Singapore is one of the most sleep-deprived nations in the world, with 44% sleeping less than 7 hours a night. Based on a study conducted by the University of Michigan, Singaporeans also sleep at the latest time (11.45pm) compared to populations in other countries (e.g. Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, United States and United Kingdom). Majority of the locals associated sleep deprivation to the stresses of daily life and the culture of working long hours.


In this article, we will draw your attention to the widely held beliefs Singaporeans have about sleep. Such sleep myths are not entirely true, and they have contributed to the unhealthy sleep behaviours of Singaporeans.



Myth 1: The older you are as an adult, the lesser sleep you need.


False. Did you know that older people need just as much sleep as the younger adults? Although sleep patterns typically change as one grows older, the sleep needs stay constant throughout adult life. Older individuals generally get lesser sleep at night due to more frequent night waking. As a result, they usually take longer naps in the day.


Sleep experts recommend an average adult to get 7 – 9 hours of sleep daily.



Myth 2: With less sleep, your body can still adapt to function as well.


Frequently, we believe that we will be able to get by and power through by simply having an extra dose of caffeine. The truth is we will eventually accumulate a large sleep debt that can be tough to “compensate”. Sleep deprivation adversely affects your ability to think and has been linked to diseases like obesity, diabetes and hypertension.


Inadequate sleep lowers the production of growth hormones, which increases the likelihood of weight gain and subsequently, obesity. Additionally, the lack of sleep impairs the body’s ability to use insulin, giving rise to diabetes. Interrupted sleep also negatively affects the normal decline of blood pressure during the sleep cycle, resulting in hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Hence, the evidence is relatively strong to refute this myth.




Myth 3: It doesn’t matter when your bedtime is.


False. Our bodies tend to follow our innate biological clocks in terms of sleeping patterns.


A permanent shift in our sleep schedules can be detrimental to our health. Research has shown that nightshift workers often experience circadian rhythm desynchronization and lower sleep quality. Compared to day workers, they are also at a greater risk of getting depression, diabetes and breast cancer. Therefore, the time we sleep is crucial to our health.



Myth 4: Loud snoring isn’t harmful.


Did you know that loud snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a disorder where individuals snore loudly and experience breathing pauses throughout the night, due to the collapse of airway in their throats. These pauses cause strain to the heart and cardiovascular system and elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease when left untreated. If you snore loudly and feel lethargic in the day, you should consult a doctor to get it checked out.



Myth 5: Drinking alcohol before bedtime improves your sleep 


False. Although alcohol may induce sleep in the first couple of hours after consumption, it subsequently disrupts sleep and decreases rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, resulting in a poor-quality sleep. Moreover, the intake of alcohol has also been shown to aggravate sleep apnea symptoms.



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