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.
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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