Pediatricians from NUH conducted a study of 372 children aged two to six compared the results to a similar study in Switzerland. The result? Singaporean kids clocked shorter sleeping hours than their peers in Europe.
Two-year-olds in Singapore sleep about 11.3 hours a day (including naps). This is almost two hours less than that of Swiss children. Furthermore, Singaporean kids clocked only 9 hours of night-time sleep – 2.4 hours less than what the Swiss had.
Move up a couple of years and it was noted that six-year-old Singaporeans had 8.8 hours of night-time sleep.
While researchers did not specify the exact lengths of sleeping time clocked by Swiss children, the final conclusion stated that Swiss children had more sleep at all ages.
What does this mean?
Firstly, the pediatricians said their findings were a ‘cause for concern’ because it revealed that children had inadequate ‘night-time sleep’. They added that sleep deprivation is associated with an ‘increased incidence of learning disorders, unintentional injuries, obesity, impaired immunity and mood and anxiety disorders.’
In fact, Associate Professor Stacey Tay, told reporters that once her child patients started sleeping longer, many of their physical problems improved and the children also showed ‘markedly improved academic ability’.
A worrying point that the study unearthed was that while a vast majority of parents think their children are sleeping enough, 44% of Singaporean children had difficulty waking up in the morning, while 40% woke up tired.
What can be done
Singaporeans live a fast paced society and even the children have packed schedules. With a whirlwind of school, homework, tuition, co-curricular activities and piano lessons, it is a wonder these kids have enough time in a day to lie down for a few hours. Here are some simple tips to get your kid to spend more time in bed:
1. Set regular sleeping times
Sometimes your child comes back late from tuition, or he stays up to finish homework. This eventually leads to bed-times that vary every day. In order to counter this, set a regular bed- time every night. By creating a routine, you will make that 9pm bed-time a habit and soon enough, your kid’s body clock will adjust accordingly.
2. Do everything that needs to be done
In accordance with the previous point, it is very important that the child gets everything out of the way so that he can sleep in peace by the time bed-time arrives. This means that all homework should be finished, schoolbags packed, pencils sharpened.. you know the drill. A handy way to do this is to make a checklist. This allows the child to sleep in peace because he knows that everything is ready for the next day.
3. Create a conducive environment
Parents take note, sending your child to bed is the easy part. The hard part is keeping him there. To accomplish this, the child has to be in an environment that encourages peaceful rest. If the child sleeps while your television is blaring in the next room, your efforts to put him to be will be undermined. We suggest using your child’s bed-time as a marker to begin winding down your day as well.
4. Plan the day
Plan your child’s week such that he does not come back late often. Even out those tuitions and piano lessons and give your child more time to himself in the evening.
5. Be there
Sometimes, parents need to make their presence felt. Young children appreciate the company of their parents in the room before they sleep. Read a book or sing a lullaby, your presence will give your kids a sense of security and comfort.