Sleep deprivation is so common, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, that most people shrug it off. Some might even be proud of their ability to function on little sleep. AIA Group Limited conducted a research from May to July 2019 involving 5,000 respondents in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand and found that over half of the people surveyed (55%) said they get just 6 hours of sleep every night. To help combat sleep deprivation, AIA launched a new initiative called #OneMoreHour with the aim of raising awareness of the health benefits of getting adequate sleep and introducing rewards to encourage people to get more sleep.
In attendance at the #OneMoreHour launch event was Professor Michael Chee, one of Asia’s leading sleep experts from Duke-NUS Medical School and NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in Singapore, who shared key insights about the dangers of sleep deficit. “In Asia-Pacific, it’s common for us to spend billions on quick fixes like supplements, but the real fix is to put effort into getting better sleep,” says Professor Chee. In his opinion, as much as we know the benefits of sleep, we give it low priority and this can be seen from the rising prevalence of obesity and diabetes, as insufficient sleep is one of the contributing factors to these diseases.
Professor Chee further explained on how getting less sleep is detrimental not only to one’s physical health, but also to brain health. Sufficient sleep improves our immune system, thus reducing the likelihood of developing chronic diseases and helps in cutting back stress and anxiety. The expert advocates sleeping just #OneMoreHour because he reckons that change needs to be done step by step. “It’s impossible to change your lifestyle immediately hence we encourage people to do it gradually. Sleeping is to de-stress, let’s not make it a mission to accomplish,” he says.
Sleep Questions, Answered
Can we make up sleep deficit with cat naps?
Power naps do work wonders for our cognition and also to improve our mood. “Nap is like a booster, but that doesn’t give us the green light not to have enough nocturnal sleep. Adequate nocturnal sleep is very important, especially to our metabolism and body mass index (BMI),” explained Dr Chee.
What is the ideal number of sleep hours?
The recommended hours vary depending on different age groups. As we know, children need more sleep, whereas for teenagers, the ideal would be eight to 10 hours. For adults, it’s seven to nine while the older group can pass with six hours of sleep.
Will sleeping more on the weekend allow us to catch up on sleep?
“Catching up is better than not catching up, but the fact that you have to play catch-up suggests that you are really deficient in sleep. It’s also what we call the ‘social jet lag’,” said Professor Chee. ‘Social jet lag’ is a shift in sleep schedule where people sleep in on the weekend and wake up later. Professor Chee pointed out that although shifting your sleeping schedule is better than being sleep-deprived, it will, however, take a hefty toll on your health.
Can one have too much sleep?
Too much sleep is defined as greater than nine hours a day. While insufficient sleep is damaging, on the other end of the spectrum, too much sleep on a regular basis can put our health at risk too. “Oversleeping leads to health hazards like negative cognitive, higher risk of diabetes and stroke, thereby leading to a higher risk of mortality,” explains Professor Chee.
Find out more about why a good night’s rest is so crucial and how you can improve your sleep, in the January/February issue of Her World.
This article is brought to you by AIA