Why is Hybrid Learning Making Us So Tired?
If you’re like many students at EHS, your days seem like they’ve gotten much longer ever since school started. The days drag on more than ever before because of the mix of online classes and in-school classes. All that time spent on our computers certainly doesn’t help; it often feels like two school days in one!
I asked some EHS students to describe to me what felt different or difficult to them about the remote learning part of our days. Giordi Zimberg, grade 11, stated, “It’s harder to stay alert during class. I’m not sure if it’s because of the screen or the way classes are run, but I'm definitely less able to stay ‘in it’ when I’m online.” Maybe it’s a mix of both. One of the problems that I have come across personally is staying focused when I’m on a Google Meet while others are experiencing the class in person. The screen makes you feel disconnected from the class that you are “in” because you are watching it happen without actually being a part of it. Additionally, it’s much harder to engage and participate when you’re on mute and separated from your teacher that way. It’s understandably difficult, it seems, for teachers to engage the online students as much as the in-person students. Maybe that's just the reality of online teaching.
Another part of the problem is screen usage. Staring at a screen for too long each day can negatively impact your health. Eye strain is one big problem that is now affecting students more than ever before. As you continue to use your computer throughout the day, your eyes will start to feel more and more tired from the blue light emitted from the screen. It is not exactly easy to focus in math class when your eyes desperately need a break, but it’s also compromising your learning to look away. The strain on your eyes can cause headaches and general fatigue, as well. That may explain why our half-online school days are harder to get through than fully live school days.
Another factor that could be contributing to tiredness when it comes to online school is sleep deprivation. You can blame blue light again. Blue light undercuts your body’s ability to fall asleep because it blocks the hormone melatonin, and melatonin is what makes you sleepy. Wearing blue light glasses can help: a 2017 study done by the University of Houston found that participants wearing the glasses showed about a 58% increase in their nighttime melatonin levels. With increased melatonin levels, you are able to fall asleep and stay asleep more easily. I’d argue that the replacement of three in-person classes with remote, on-screen learning—and that additional time in front of blue light—may be contributing to sleep problems among students.
With many months ahead of us of this style of learning, you may want to purchase a pair of blue light glasses. You may also want to cut down on screen time before bed (I know, easier said than done!). As for the other problems discussed above, hopefully, we’ll all get more used to this style of instruction and adopt better focusing techniques for remote classes. Let’s remember that our teachers are doing the best they can. It’s up to us to do our best to adapt, too.