Singaporeans among world's worst sleepers, stress cited as key reason: survey

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
(Getty Images file photo)
(Getty Images file photo)

Singaporeans are among the worst sleepers in the world, with stress cited as the biggest reason keeping them up at night, according to a global annual survey released on Thursday (14 March).

The survey shows that Singapore tied with Japan in first place for the least average hours of sleep on weekdays at 6.3 hours, and came in second for weekends at 6.7 hours after Canada.

Globally, people averaged 6.8 hours of sleep on weekdays and 7.8 hours on weekends, according to the survey commissioned by Dutch technology company Philips. The daily recommended hours of sleep is eight.

“It’s worrying that Singaporeans are still ranked among the world’s poorest sleepers, despite public awareness around the importance of quality sleep for overall health,” said Ivy Lai, Philips Singapore’s country manager.

Respondents in Brazil slept the most on average during weekdays (7.2 hours) while those in China slept the most on average during weekends (8.5 hours).

Conducted by consulting firm KJT Group from 9 to 28 January, the survey was carried out in conjunction with World Sleep Day on 15 March.

The survey covered over 11,000 adults in 12 countries: Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, and the United States. 750 of the respondents were Singaporeans.

Weeknights

Country

Average hours of sleep

Japan

6.3

Singapore

6.3

Australia

6.7

Canada

6.7

India

6.7

South Korea

6.7

Germany

6.7

United States

6.8

France

6.8

Netherlands

6.9

China

7.1

Brazil

7.2

Weekend nights

Country

Average hours of sleep

Canada

6.6

Singapore

6.7

Australia

6.8

Japan

7.0

India

7.2

United States

7.4

Germany

7.6

France

7.7

South Korea

7.8

Brazil

7.9

Netherlands

7.9

China

8.5

The survey also found that 70 per cent of Singaporeans described their sleep as “somewhat” or “not at all’ well, with only 6 per cent indicating that they sleep “extremely” well.

39 per cent said that their sleep has worsened in the past five years.

“The impact of this is demonstrated daily, with as many as 65 per cent of Singaporeans saying they have experienced several episodes of daytime sleepiness throughout the week,” said Philips.

Stress was the main reason for Singaporeans being deprived of sleep, with 61 per cent of them citing it as a cause. The other factors keeping them up at night include their sleeping environment (35 per cent), distraction from entertainment such as television and social media (30 per cent), their partner’s snoring (14 per cent) and sleep schedule (10 per cent).

While 81 per cent of Singaporeans said that they want to improve their quality of sleep, 80 per cent of them have not sought help from a medical professional due to the perceived high costs of sleep consultation and treatment.

Instead, they are choosing simple strategies to catch more sleep, including watching TV (34 per cent of respondents), having set times for bed and wake up (28 per cent), reducing caffeine consumption (25 per cent), playing soothing music (19 per cent) and sleeping in a different location from their partner (12 per cent).

“While most are aware that sleep is fundamentally important, achieving the recommended eight hours of quality sleep is still an elusive goal for many people each night,” said Mark Aloia, Philips’ global lead for behaviour change, sleep & respiratory care.

He added, “The lack of quality sleep may not only induce low productivity and daytime sleepiness, but also pose serious health issues if not addressed. Those who suffer from prolonged poor sleep should consult their doctor to identify contributing factors and determine if they or their partner are at risk of underlying health issues such as obstructive sleep apnea.”

As many as one in three Singaporeans suffer from sleep apnea, with 91 per cent of them undiagnosed, according to a study published in 2016 by health professionals in Singapore.

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