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Food & Health

Are You Cheating Yourself Of Sleep?

With such hectic lifestyles and busy routines, getting eight hours of sleep is a thing of the past for not just the old, but also the very young.

In 2014, according to a report by Jawbone, the creators of the wristband that tracks sleep patterns, Singaporeans are among the world’s most sleep-deprived people. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, should it? With a culture of working long-hours and round-the-clock schedules to meet, count yourself lucky if you’re getting at least four to five hours of sleep per night.

Here’s the real shocker, 37.5 per cent of 6- to 9-year-olds showed signs of sleep deprivation in a survey conducted by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with more than 300 parents in 2015. Our question is, why? Why are these little children not getting enough sleep?

“The increasing use of technology in this day and age has greatly affected sleep for both adults and children. Television, computers, smart phones, etc. are all common “bedtime disruptions” for both adults and children.”

Dr Petrina Wong, consultant in Respiratory Medicine Service in the Department of Paediatric Medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and an Exco member of Singapore Sleep Society sheds light on this matter.

“The increasing use of technology in this day and age has greatly affected sleep for both adults and children. Television, computers, smart phones, etc. are all common “bedtime disruptions” for both adults and children,” explains Dr Wong. However, technology is not the only culprit. Other factors like increased school and social commitments, and extracurricular activities have also contributed to our young population getting lesser sleep than before, she adds.

Go To Sleep
Remember the times when you were growing up and sleep was your most favourite thing to do? I remember begging my mother for five more precious minutes every morning when she wakes me up for school. This is the same precious sleep we neglect today for other things.

“Sleep is important for physical health, mental health and general well-being. In children especially, adequate sleep is vital for growth, good brain function and daytime performance,” states Dr Wong. In today’s society where kids are pressured by exams, it gets hard for parents to get enough sleep as well because they need to stay up for revision with their children.

“My oldest is in Primary 3 and my youngest is barely a year and a half old. When it comes to exam time, my sleep (deprivation) is the
worst then because I utilised the few hours I have at home after work to make sure my son is prepared for the exams. And when I go to
sleep, my little one starts his story by waking me up every few hours. I cannot tell you how exhausting it is for me and my son,” shares Karen Lim, mother of two.

According to Dr Wong, for preschool children, the general recommended sleep duration is 11 to 12 hours a day, while primary school-aged children should sleep for at least nine to 11 hours a day.

Sleepless No More
Parents are encouraged to set good examples for their children to follow such as regular sleeping hours and the avoidance of electronic devices close to bedtime. Remember, monkey see, monkey do, and you are your child’s best teacher.

  • Stick to the routine
    Try to keep similar sleep schedules for school days and non-school days. Dr Wong adds: “Be consistent in enforcing the same bedtime rules between different caregivers. This applies to households where there is more than one caregiver for the child.”
  •  Lights out
    Keep your child’s bedroom dim, cool, quiet and comfortable, and avoid using the bed for punishment, schoolwork and activities other than sleep.

Are you depriving yourself of sleep? Leave us a comment down below.