SingHealth Duke-NUS Sleep Centre conducted a sleep study in 2018. It highlighted that 80% of adolescents get less sleep than the recommended 8 – 10 hours. Another study showed that lack of sleep at a young age has long-term adverse effects on the brain. Some of the effects cited included issues with memory retention and decision-making. As much as we encourage more sleep, a compelling problem is the quality as well. How many times have we headed to bed early, only to spend hours tossing and turning? Today, our children live in an academics-driven and tuition centre culture in Singapore. In such an environment, how can we ensure that our children get sufficient AND quality sleep? Read on to find out.

  1. Establishing A Pre-Bedtime Routine

Occasionally, our children reach home late due to Math or English tuition. Most times, they are rushing to complete their never-ending homework. This is especially pertinent for our P6 students preparing for PSLE. Regardless, it is imperative that parents try to establish a fixed bedtime. This means ensuring a time that allows them to secure at least 8h of sleep. With this, we can then establish a pre-bedtime routine. The routine can involve packing up your bag for school, drinking milk, or brushing your teeth before heading to bed. When repeated on the daily, your brain internalises. Your brain ‘understands’ that you are going to sleep soon.  Thereafter, the actions kickstart the brain to produce melatonin during this time. Melatonin is a hormone crucial in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. This is greatly beneficial as it ensures that you feel sleepy enough by the time you are in bed.

  1. Importance of ‘Warm’ Filters & Light

There is no denying that we reach out to our phones for that brief Internet time before we sleep. As much as phone usage is strongly discouraged before sleeping, we know that some habits are difficult to break. It has become so entrenched in our habits. Working around this pre-bedtime routine, we recommend installing a phone light app. Blue light from phones is harmful. It inhibits the production of melatonin in the brain, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Such apps filter out this blue light, replacing it with an orange hue that is gentler on the eyes. The importance of ‘warm’ light cannot be underestimated. ‘Warm’ light is more soothing to the eyes. In contrast, white light has a harsher brightness. In rooms where assignments or tuition centre homework is done, consider replacing the lights with ‘warm’ light. As the night progresses, it is easier to head to bed.

  1. Meditation Music / Podcasts

We have all been there. Tossing and turning in bed as endless thoughts consume our mind. The solution to this is to ease the focus to thoughts that are positive and relaxing. To stimulate such thoughts, sources such as podcasts and meditation music like SoulRelax are great to listen to. As you are listening in bed, also take deep breaths to loosen up the tense muscles. With a relaxed mind and body, it is much easier to fall asleep and secure quality sleep. Consider getting an eyemask to block out light. The gentle pressure on the eyes helps alleviate tension, ensuring that the eyes are well-rested the next morning.

We hope you have found these tips useful. If we spend approximately 8h a day sleeping, it means we spend ⅓ of our lives asleep. Thus, especially in such a stressful environment, it is important to cultivate these habits to maximise the number and quality of sleep.  Particularly so for our children who have CCA commitments, tuition centre classes and academics to attend to today.

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