Survey by NTU students: Most parents not aware of their child’s lack of sleep

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A survey by four NTU students (Cai Yiming, Jeremiah Wong, Joan Agustin and Muhammad Dinie) in Singapore shows that more than 30% of six-to-nine year old children show signs of sleep deprivation. The survey was done on more than 300 parents late last year as a social campaign, The Pillow Police. It was part of the students’ final-year project and done in collaboration with the National University Hospital (NUH) which, among other things, contributed to the analysis of data findings.

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On a regular school day, most children sleep an average eight hours, fewer than the nine to 10 hours they should ideally clock. This means if a child gets up at 6am, he has to be in bed by 9pm, at the latest. However, >85% of the children hit the sack after 9pm, when most of them need to wake up early as primary schools start at 7.30am. The study found that about 4 in 10 pupils feel sleepy during the day and 37% do not go to bed at the same time every night.

Dr Michael Lim, a paediatric pulmonary and sleep consultant at NUH, said that children should be sleeping earlier if they have an early start to the day. He also added that there is a need for a consistent bedtime routine. The quality of sleep matters. Parents should definitely look out for signs such as restlessness, deteriorating grades, inattention, poor decision-making skills and a higher risk of displaying anxiety and depressive symptoms.

The surprising fact was that only 8% of parents recognised that their children may have sleep problems. “It is worrying that parents don’t realise that sleep deprivation is an issue among kids. There is a need for better awareness. Most parents were surprised by our findings.” said Cai Yiming.

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Scientist-entrepreneur-manager-journalist: -Co-founder, Author; Former Assistant Editor and Director, Biotechin.Asia, Biotech Media Pte. Ltd.; -Founder & CEO, SciGlo (; -Programme Management Officer, SBIC, A*STAR (former Research Fellow). --Sandhya graduated from University of Madras, India (B.Sc Microbiology and M.Sc Biotechnology) and received her Ph.D from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She worked on oxidative stress in skin, skeletal, adipose tissue and cardiac muscle for a decade from 2006-2016. She is currently working as a Programme Management Officer handling projects and grants at Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Earlier to this she was a Research Fellow in the Fat Metabolism and Stem Cell Group at SBIC. Sandhya was also the Vice President and Publicity Chair of A*PECSS (A*STAR Post Doc Society) (2014-2016). Recently she founded a platform for scientists - SciGlo ( and is a startup mentor at Vertical VC (Finland). She is an ardent lover of science and enjoys globe trotting and good vegetarian food.