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Sleep on it: Here’s why you should snooze longer

On March 17, people all over the globe celebrate World Sleep Day, an annual event for raising awareness of the major role sleep plays in improving our health and wellbeing. We all know that not resting enough can result in grogginess and disorientation. But did you know that a good night’s rest is definitely not something to yawn about, as it can deliver a range of health benefits that go beyond simply making us feel well-rested and rejuvenated?

In this week’s article, Pacific Prime Singapore unveils the reasons why we need sufficient sleep, the short-term and long-term impacts of sleep deprivation, key tips for getting a good night’s sleep, and whether health insurance covers sleep-related disorders.

Individual health insurance blog

Singapore: A sleepless nation?

Singaporeans get an average of 6.9 hours of sleep per night, making it the third most sleep-deprived city following Tokyo and Seoul. While this is an improvement from the 6.4 hours on average seen in 2019, many Singaporeans are not satisfied with their sleep. This is especially true on weekdays, as weekends see Singaporeans achieving the recommended minimum average number of hours of sleep at 7.5 hours per night.

Some reasons why Singapore is sleep deprived include:

  • Stress and worry
  • Sleeping environment
  • Mobile device usage
  • Caffeine consumption

Some analysts further point to the culture of working long hours in Singapore as a major reason behind sleep deprivation in the city-state. According to Ministry of Manpower (MOM) statistics, Singaporeans worked for around 44.2 hours a week in 2021. In the US, the average worker clocks in 35 hours while 42 hours is the average in the EU.

Why do we need a good night’s sleep?

First, let’s look at the basics, namely the science behind sleep. Sleep passes through 5 stages: 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM:

  • Stage 1 is also known as light sleep. It usually takes 7 minutes to go into stage one.
  • In stage 2, your heart rate slows down and your body temperature drops.
  • In stages 3 and 4, you reach deep sleep. During these stages, your body undergoes a restorative stage and secretes growth hormones that help re-energize your body and regulate muscle and bone growth.
  • The REM stage, which stands for Rapid Eye Movement, usually occurs after 90 minutes of sleep and lasts about an hour. During this stage, your breathing becomes shallow and your heart rate increases. This is the stage when dreaming occurs, and also when the information you have absorbed during the day gets processed. Neural connections are further formed, which help strengthen your memory.

What are the short-term health effects of poor quality sleep?

We all know how groggy we can feel when we don’t get enough rest. Having bad quality sleep the night before not only makes us feel tired but also has a negative impact on attention span, memory recall, and learning. Further short-term negative impacts of poor quality sleep include feelings of anxiety, distractibility, and stressed relationships.

What’s more, research by the Singapore Management University revealed that workers who don’t sleep enough are more likely to waste time surfing the internet, thus leading to lower levels of efficiency and productivity. In the US alone, poor performance caused by lack of sleep costs firms a total of USD $63.2 billion per year!

Long-term health risks associated with sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation puts you at an increased risk of developing a weakened immune system, as well as a range of chronic conditions (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, cancer – including colon, breast, prostate, etc.), and even early mortality. Lack of sleep has also been linked to a number of psychological conditions, including depression and mood disorders. These negative effects all point to how adequate sleep is very much a crucial human need, alongside eating well and getting enough exercise.

Tips for improving your quality of sleep

To ensure that you get a better night’s sleep, here are a few key tips to get you started:

  • Avoid caffeine 4 – 6 hours before bedtime. That means no coffee, tea, and sodas with caffeine in them.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule, and try to do this even on weekends.
  • Sleep in a cool and dark room, with no bright lights. Try using low-wattage light bulbs instead.
  • Consider speaking to your doctor if you think your lack of sleep is being caused by a sleep-related disorder (e.g. sleep apnea and insomnia).

Sleep duration recommendations

How much sleep you need very much depends on the age group you belong to. The following visual guide by the National Sleep Foundation provides a good reference point for all the different age groups. As you can see, younger children need significantly more sleep (14 to 17 hours) than adults (7 to 9 hours).

 

sleeprecommendationinfographic

Source: National Sleep Foundation (2022)

Does snoozing help?

Common questions surrounding getting more shut-eye are “is snoozing bad?” or “does snoozing make you more tired?” While snoozing the alarm might feel good in that instant, the reality is that napping after you wake up can increase tiredness and make you feel even more drowsy once you do get out of bed. Instead of wondering what the best snooze duration is, you’re better off sticking to a sleep schedule where you can get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off.

Will my health insurance cover sleep-related disorders?

Most sleep-related disorder studies and tests are considered outpatient procedures, so you’ll need to obtain health insurance that includes outpatient coverage in order to make a claim for any of these tests. Please note that not all insurance plans will provide coverage for sleep disorders under the outpatient benefit, so if you’re unsure whether a plan covers sleep-related disorders, it’s definitely worth speaking to your insurance provider to find out.

Whether you’re looking for individual health insurance in Singapore, pre-existing conditions insurance in Singapore, or other types of insurance, you’ve come to the right place. The insurance experts at Pacific Prime Singapore can help you find the best value health insurance plan, offer insurance advice, and more.

Contact us for impartial insurance advice and a free quote today.

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Content Strategist at Pacific Prime Singapore
Jessica Lindeman is a Content Strategist at Pacific Prime. She comes to work every day living and breathing the motto of "simplifying insurance", and injects her unbridled enthusiasm for health and insurance related topics into every article and piece of content she creates for Pacific Prime.

When she's not typing away on her keyboard, she's reading poetry, fueling her insatiable wanderlust, getting her coffee fix, and perpetually browsing animal Instagram accounts.