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Are children sleeping more or less during the coronavirus pandemic?

Deseret News logo Deseret News 9/1/2020 Herb Scribner
a person looking at the camera: A girl shows her work to the teacher during a class at a community library amid the new coronavirus pandemic at the Morro do Salgueiro favela of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. © Silvia Izquierdo, Associated Press A girl shows her work to the teacher during a class at a community library amid the new coronavirus pandemic at the Morro do Salgueiro favela of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.

Children may be getting the same hours of sleep now compared to before the pandemic — but it might be coming in a different way.

A new study — published in late July in the Journal of Sleep Research — reviewed sleep habits for 1,619 cases.

  • The children were ages 4, 5 and 6, and they were from 11 different preschools in Guizhou, in the city of Zunyi, which is about 650 miles from Wuhan, according to The New York Times.
  • The children’s sleep habits were compared to a similar study group from 2018 so researchers could see if there had been any changes.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what the researchers found:

  • Children at home were going to sleep 57 minutes later on average compared to 2018 during the week and 30 minutes later on weekends.
  • Children are waking up later — one hour and 52 minutes later compared to 2018 on weekday and an hour later on weekends.

Here’s how The New York Times explained this:

“In other words, they were sleeping longer at night than the children in 2018 and, perhaps not surprisingly, sleeping less during the day; only 27.5% routinely took daytime naps, compared with 79.8% in 2018 (69.4% on weekends). It added up to about the same amount of sleep in a 24-hour period, and, interestingly, “somewhat unexpectedly,” as the researchers noted, the caregivers in 2020 reported fewer sleep disturbances. Daytime sleepiness, night wakings, bedtime resistance and sleep anxiety were all lower in the pandemic sample than in the 2018 group.”

A new school year and a new normal

Frank Ghinassi, president and CEO of Rutgers Health University Behavioral Health Care, told CBS News that children are going through a new normal because of the pandemic, which has forced their habits to change.

  • “Now they have to adapt to a new normal — because it’s not really going back to school, it’s going back to a new set of rules at school. So, we’re going to see stress and a lot of those kids are going to have to learn to adapt all over again, just like they learned to adapt in February or March. And that adaptation or change always produces stress on individuals.”
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