Teachers are Loosing Sleep to Online Classes and It Can Impact Economy

When the pandemic closed schools in more than 190 countries and affected as many as 1.6 billion learners worldwide, it was the grit and determination of teachers which kept the education going.

The current ‘quarantine lifestyle’ has profoundly changed teachers’ ways of working. During this unprecedented time, most teachers pivoted to teaching from home. However, some were laid off or furloughed, disrupting their lives and daily routines.

Now, that they are working from home, they have to go the extra mile to make up for not having the administrative commodities at home that are available in schools and make learning digitally efficient. For example, the basic filing system they have at schools helps keep track of student assignments, pending portions, paying adequate time for every student, and many more. One way or another, this has increased workload considerably has ultimately impacted their sleep.

All the teachers, especially women teachers had to juggle between their job and finishing their household chores, and even taking care of their loved ones.

For those teachers who have to do everything on their own, one can hardly imagine them getting the amount of sleep they need. While the causes and symptoms of sleep deprivation among teachers can come from all corners, it is vital to understand how badly it affects their productivity.

In long run, it may be presumed that affected sleep will lead to metabolic co-morbidities and even loss of workplace productivity.

Evidence has implicated a negative impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive and motor performance, especially for jobs that require creativity and strategic thinking, such as teaching. Each year, loss of sleep has cost countries millions of dollars.

An analysis conducted in Australia estimated that the financial costs of suffering are around 1.55% while non-financial costs represent 4.6% of Australian gross domestic product. Similarly in the US, United States, the statistics indicate that loss of productivity to the extent of US$ 136.4 billion can be attributed to sleep deprivation. These numbers are still scant, which indicates that we are undermining the impact of sleep disorders on the economy.

Millions of dollars are spent each year on the direct costs of treating sleep-related disorders. On top of that, there are indirect costs as well, including costs associated with illness-related morbidity and mortality, absenteeism, disability, reduction or loss of productivity, industrial and motor vehicle accidents, and hospitalization. Monetarily, the impact of the pandemic on our sleep cycles has posed a huge burden on the economy.

Teachers are responsible for training and educating young students that are eventually going to become working professionals and are the foundations of our society. A long-term disrupted teaching schedule and overburdened teachers would directly affect the overall growth of the next generation’s nation builders and this will impact the overall growth of the nation.

Measures need to be taken to ensure teachers can follow sleep schedules to be fully productive and value-add to the society in their way. One solution can also be designing education systems that are more resilient and equitable for the teaching community.

Furthermore, it also becomes important to spread awareness about sleep disorders among them for the sake of their health. If any person in your knowledge faces trouble while sleeping or gets inadequate rest, urge them to seek out proper medical help that can solve their problem and keep their physical and mental health away from any jeopardy.

— Written by Dr Sibasish Dey, head – medical affairs, Asia & Latin America

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