Kids in S'pore sleep less than those in Switzerland: Study

A study of 372 children aged from two to six paediatricians from the National University Hospital found that their snooze time is less than that of children in Switzerland, which has also done a study of the sleep patterns of children aged two and older.

Two-year-olds here sleep almost 11.3 hours a day, including naps- almost two hours less than the sleep time logged by Swiss children of that age. The toddlers had only nine hous of night-time sleep- 2.4 hours less than what Swiss children had.

Six-year-olds here had 8.8 hours of night-time sleep and about 10.4 hours including naps. The reseachers did not give the length of time that Swiss children of that age slept, though they said they has more sleep at all ages.

The paediatricians were surprised with the large number of children over the age of two who were still taking naps in the daytime- more than 76 per cent, compared with just 5 per cent among Swiss children.

The study found 44 per cent of children here had difficulty waking up in the morning and 40 per cent woke up tired- both symptoms of inadequate sleep. These findings were a "cause for concer" since children with later of irregular bedtimes, short sleeping times and daytime sleepiness have "lower academic achievements".

In addition, sleep deprivation are associated with the increased incidence of learning disorders, unintentional injuries, obesity, impaired immunity and mood and anxiety disorders.

What they found equally worrying is that a vast majority of parents think their children are sleeping enough. 
About 84 per cent of parents said their children had enough sleep, 90 per cent said they had no sleep problems and even the 10 per cent who said there were problems felt the child would grow out of it.

This is one of the 4 types of circadian rhythm sleep disorders that many Singaporeans are increasingly facing.

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are related to the timing of sleep within the 24-hour day. People with such disorders do not have a problem maintaining sleep once they are asleep, but their sleep-wake routine is out of synchronization with the norm.

This is a problem only if they are required to sleep or wake up at times that disrupt their sleep cycles so that do not get enough sleep. The circadian rhythm is affected by light exposure, the levels of melatonin- a sleep hormone in the body and the activities that one engages in.


People with this syndrome- typically adolescents and young adults- tend to fall sleepy later and later. It is usually caused by performing mentally stimulating activities and exposure to light at night. They may not be able to fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning, which makes it difficult for them to wake up in time for school and work.


low salt diet may improve conditions such as anxiety, irritability, depression, fatigue and migraine headache the findings of an investigation of a low salt diet for “insomnia and tension states” was published in the Journal of the American Association in 1945 (1). Patients with “pronounced insomnia, nervous tension, anxiety and increased emotional liability” were instructed to follow a low salt diet with striking results.

What action can YOU take to help your children overcome sleep disorder?
  1. Start from the food at mealsexcess salt and sugar damage the blood vessels, leading to decreased blood flow. Excess saturated fat and trans fat can clog veins and arteries and impede circulation. In order to improve poor blood circulation, avoid canned foods and deep-fried foods, which often contain trans fats. When your circulation improves, the quality of your sleep will improve.
  2. Exercise- to get rid of toxins and calories by sweating and thereby eliminating salt.
  3. Drink plenty of water- removes the toxins by flushing it out of the body.
    Miller, M. Low sodium chloride intake in the treatment of insomnia and tension states. JAMA. 1945. 129; 4: 262-266.