Is your kid getting enough sleep?

Sufficient, good quality sleep in tweens is vital to learning and problem solving.


We know it’s a struggle to drag your child out of bed to face a school day. But maybe that’s also because their bodies are protesting a lack of sleep.

   It’s no mystery that sleep provides many benefits including improved health, better management of emotions and weight control. But sleep is also vital for language learning, memory, problem solving and behaviour in children. This was suggested in a new study led by Dagmara Dimitriou, director of Lifespan Learning and Sleep Laboratory, department of psychology and human development, University of California at Irvine Institute of Education. 

   The recommended amount of sleep for adolescents, as recommended by Dimitriou, is around nine hours but school commitments, biological factors such as pubertal phase delay, as well as modern lifestyle distractions such as energy drinks, coffee, social media and smartphones mean that insufficient and poor quality of sleep are pervasive among adolescents.

    In fact, Dr Kenny Peter Pang, an ear, nose & throat consultant at Asia Sleep Centre, believes that with Singapore’s curriculum, it is only possible for adolescents to get about seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Even then, he says that many teenagers he treats sleep only about five to six hours per night, which is “grossly inadequate”.   

    He says, “Some teenagers have very irregular sleep patterns. They may occasionally sleep at 9pm and wake up at 6am but on certain days they may sleep from 3am to 6am. This irregular sleeping pattern is terrible for the brain and body. If this persists, the child may develop Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. This is when the child sleeps later and later at night, to the point where they cannot even sleep earlier at night anymore.”

    Dr Pang points out that tweens and teenagers with sleep deprivation are usually moody, irritable, temperamental and suffer from poor concentration and are unable to focus on their studies. This is in turn translates to poor results in school and exams.

    Being deprived of sleep also lowers their immune system, which means that these kids fall sick more often, frequently getting flus and colds, which further hinders their studies. Dr Pang also points out that sleep-deprived youngsters are constantly moody, which leads to misunderstandings and quarrels with siblings and parents. 

Photo: INGimage

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