The first phase of the society’s social media campaign is called ‘One Hour More’ and seeks to educate the public on the benefits of sleep and the health risks of not sleeping enough.
What sleep deprivation does
In a survey conducted by the Singapore Sleep Society on nearly 400 junior college students, the results showed 97% of the students saying they were feeling drowsy during class, with about 70% actually falling asleep in class at least once a week. To stay awake during the day, 33.2% of students drank caffeinated beverages.
What the experts say
“Prolonged sleep deprivation and disrupted sleep patterns can have long-term, serious health implications. Studies have linked lack of sleep to depression, cardiovascular disorders and other serious conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity,” warned Dr. Lim Li Ling, President, Singapore Sleep Society.
“Ensure that you have enough sleep regularly to protect your health, and reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses. Untreated chronic sleep disorders like obstructive Sleep Apnoea and Insomnia can also cause insufficient sleep and health problems. Chronic sleep disorders should not be left untreated.” said Dr. Mark Hon Wah Ignatius, Vice-President, Singapore Sleep Society.
Children show behavioural changes when they are sleep-deprived. The signs of sleep deprivation can be harder to recognise and children who get less sleep are more likely to show symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Sleep deprivation also causes inattentiveness, leaving the child with low energy and unable to focus in class.
“In addition, sleep deprivation in children and adolescents has also been shown to contribute to behavioural problems, impairment of performance in school and sports, overuse of harmful alertness promoting agents e.g. caffeine, nicotine and increased risk-taking behavior e.g. recreational drugs,” said Dr Jenny Tang, Vice-President, Singapore Sleep Society.
(Next Page: Dr. Jenny Tang, Vice-President of Singapore Sleep Society and Paediatrician for Singapore Baby and Child Clinic answers your questions on sleep disorder and habits.)
theAsianparent.com snagged an interview with Dr. Jenny Tang, Vice-President of Singapore Sleep Society and Paediatrician for Singapore Baby and Child Clinic. We asked her questions pertaining to sleep disorder and habits.
1. Q: How can parents help kids who find difficulty in falling asleep?
A: Kids may have difficulty falling asleep due to a variety of reasons and may vary depending on the age of the child.
Young infants and toddlers may have difficulty sleeping due to sleep association disorders or limit setting problems. Training the child to fall asleep on his own and consistent limit setting will help. A good bedtime routine to help children look forward to bedtime is important. E.g. wash up, cuddle with mum, bedtime story and goodnight kiss.
Adolescents may have a physiological later sleep time or a delayed sleep phase. Good sleep hygiene will help sleep onset at the desired bedtime. Good sleep hygiene includes:
– Regular sleep and wake times
– Ideal bedroom environment with comfortable bed, temperature, quiet, dark
– Use the bed for sleep only and not other activities e.g. computer homework
– Do not have heavy meals or exercise too close to bedtime
– No stimulants or caffeine containing foods before bedtime e.g coffee tea sodas
2. Q: How much sleep should a child typically have?
A: Ideal time varies with age of child please see a page from my book:
3. Q: How to stop children from grinding their teeth when they are asleep?
A: It is common and does not cause problems until after milk teeth have changed over after which severe bruxism may cause wearing out of enamel and dental fractures. If this is a concern then a dental review with dental guard might be useful. Bruxism is common and may persist till adulthood. Measures to reduce triggers e.g. stress, excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages is advised.
4. Q: What kind of beds should parents buy for their primary school children?
A: Any comfortable bed of appropriate size.
5. Q: Are there any particular sleeping postures to be avoided/encouraged?
A: For infants, avoid sleeping prone i.e. on the stomach as this may increase the risk of sudden infant death especially if other risk factors are present e.g. passive smoking.
6. Q: Are power naps advisable?
A: Scheduled short naps especially for the sleep deprived have been shown to improve alertness, learning, memory and performance.
7. Q: If a person takes an afternoon nap, does that mean he/she needs a lesser amount of sleep at night?
A: I would advise age appropriate total sleep times and naps. Most children older then 5 drop their daytime naps and achieve their total sleep time in the consolidated period of nighttime sleep. This enables them to have full cycles of sleep required for full benefits of sleep compared to naps which may have less of dream sleep and deep sleep.
8. Q: Is there a correlation between sleep and food?
A: Chronic sleep deprivation may result in a derangement of the appetite hormones resulting in excessive intake of food and tendency for weight gain.
9. Q: How can people stop or reduce the frequency of snoring?
A: Snoring is a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and this needs to be excluded especially in habitual snoring. Optimal treatment of the OSA will reduce or stop the snoring e.g. tonsillectomy, CPAP therapy etc.
Treatment of problems contributing to snoring and OSA also helps e.g. allergies, obesity. If OSA has been excluded, certain ENT procedure can be done to reduce or stop snoring e.g. stiffening procedures of the soft palate. E.g. insertion of pillars.
10. Q: Some kids are afraid of the dark, does keeping a dim light on while sleeping have an implication on the quality of sleep?
No. A night-light will be helpful in this situation.
11. Q: Do dreams affect the quality of sleep?
A: Not unless it causes an arousal and prolonged periods of awakening or associated with a sleep disorder e.g. REM sleep behavioural disorder where there is acting out of dreams and frequent aggressive or violent behaviour during sleep.
Dr. Jenny Tang
Dr. Tang was presented with the Young Investigator Award in Japan in 2005 for her work on childhood Sleep Apnoea. Dr. Tang was also awarded the Health Manpower Development Programme Fellowship from the Ministry of Health and underwent advanced training in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine and Sleep Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Rainbow Babies and ChilDr.en Hospital, Cleveland Ohio USA. She a member of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Society of Singapore, Australasian Sleep Society, Asian Pacific Society of Respirology, Academy of Medicine of Singapore, American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Singapore Paediatric Society.