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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sleepless in Singapore

Published on May 26, 2013

Many Singaporeans are not getting enough sleep and they are generally unaware of the serious ill-effects of the poor habit. One in three people are getting so little sleep it is affecting their health, according to a recent editorial in the Annals, a journal by the Singapore Academy of Medicine.

A Straits Times street poll of 140 people found that most of them were ignorant of the finding that insufficient sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart diseases. Experts have also pointed out that long-term sleep deprivation can cause damage to memory and cognitive functions.

It is easy to blame the problem on the long hours at work. But lack of sleep causes poor concentration, which leads to a vicious cycle of spending more time on a task and hence working longer hours. The lack of concentration also increases the risk of transport and industrial accidents by one and a half to two times, according to the Annals.

Corporate managers should set an example by not staying late in the office when there is no need to. They should let their staff know that working long hours in the office does not make them better workers. Instead, it might indicate that they may not be as organised in their work as they should.

Many people also stay up late into the night to engage in social media. They have developed a habit of checking Facebook, Twitter and e-mail and surfing the Net. This is especially so among the young. Parents should set a curfew on their children and be strict about it for their own good.

The Ministry of Education has given schools the leeway to start their morning sessions at eight, instead of 7.30 am. Many schools are not taking advantage of this, but keeping up old practices which require students to rise at the crack of dawn. The Health Promotion Board should launch a concerted educational campaign to promote awareness of the long-term ill-effects of insufficient sleep.

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