Quarantine changes sleep and motivation in students


Allison Szetu

Learning online and different activity levels affect students’ sleep and motivation.

Kristie Kim, Social Coordinator

The COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine have decreased the demands of extracurricular activities, causing students to change aspects of their sleep schedules. Not only are students at home for almost the entire day now, students also have to learn online and spend more time using technology than ever before, which has been an adjustment. 


Junior Tony Liu believes that a good night’s sleep is very important, and he has put in effort to achieve that. Liu goes to sleep earlier during distance learning than compared to when he went to school physically, which is because of the different pace of  school work.

“Right now, I’ve realized that using the computer before sleeping is not good [because] it takes longer for you to fall asleep,” Liu said. “So now, I try to adjust to the cycle [so that] now I do not use electronic devices before I go to sleep.”


Distance learning has also brought on changes in students’ motivation as the current school experience and environment are so different compared to going in person. Being in one place the entire day has changed activity levels in addition to the will to do a typical amount of work. Freshman Harjyot Kaur noticed a change in motivation when online learning began this year.

“I have felt a little [less] excited to do things, so a little less motivated. I have a little more energy because I don’t go to school, but sitting on Zoom all day is also pretty exhausting,” Kaur said. 

Attending Zoom calls for several hours a day is not very exciting for most students. Senior James Varah has also faced difficulties in terms of his environment, being at home during school hours has played a role in how he has been sleeping. It is difficult for Varah to separate relaxation and school work when he works in the same room, even inches away, from where he sleeps..

“I feel like it’s harder for me to fall asleep, maybe because everything that I do in one day is in the same room where I sleep,” Varah said.


Differing from the other two students, senior Gemma Rice has a different perspective on her motivation. 

“With quarantine I’m definitely getting more sleep because I get to sleep in later. And that’s making me more motivated to do my work because I’m home all the time and I’m able to use my free time,” Rice said.

Because of COVID-19, there have been restrictions on  extracurricular activities both inside and outside of school. Not having the same steady schedule as before and not being able to do things like sports or seeing friends as often impacts the way students sleep and feel physically and most likely mentally as well at home now.

“With the lack of sports seasons, I have more down time and I feel like I’m able to relax more during the day,” Rice said. 


Varah is part of the Iron Panthers, Burlingame’s robotics team, which is  a community he enjoys being part of. But the meetings that the team is holding are very different over Zoom and take less time than having them in person at school. 

“I think not being in robotics and having more [personal free] time has actually decreased my motivation,” Varah said. 


One interesting aspect of sleep that has changed in a few students is the way they dream. With more free time that comes with online school, students have had more time to relax in the evenings. Watching TV is something many students do during their free time. Junior Kasilita Veimau has been going to sleep later during distance learning compared to when she went to school in-person and has noticed changes in her dreams.

“[One] reason why I go to sleep so late is because I am always watching Netflix. Constantly, I’m having these dreams with these different characters from these different shows,” Veimau said.

Veimau mentions that she does not feel as drained as she did when she went to school physically. In addition, she has more energy stored up so she feels as though she does not need to go to sleep as early. The depth of sleep has differed among students, something that impacted the way Varah dreams.

“I feel like I remember my dreams more, maybe because I’m sleeping lighter, so I end up waking up just after having a dream,” said Varah.

Like Varah, Kaur also described the change in depth of her sleep. The speed of falling asleep differs for everyone because of the individuality of our own routines.

“I used to be a little more of a light sleeper and it was harder for me to fall asleep. But now, I’m out within 10 minutes of laying down,” Kaur said.

Even with all of the changes in sleep that quarantine and distance learning have brought, being mindful is important. Liu wants to remind fellow students of the importance of sleep. 

“I would suggest to people… to always remember that having a good night’s sleep is essential for a good day of productive learning,” Liu said.