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Nearly 3 in 10 Singaporeans sleep less due to pandemic: Study

SINGAPORE — More than half of the Singaporeans surveyed in a global study said that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on their ability to sleep well.

Nearly 3 in 10 Singaporeans sleep less due to pandemic: Study

Scrolling through social media or watching videos were the most common reasons given for people who use their phone at bedtime, which led to them falling asleep later than they would like to.

  • A study found that the pandemic has affected the ability of 57 per cent of Singaporeans to sleep well
  • Close to three in 10 said they now sleep less each night
  • Only 21 per cent of respondents said they feel well-rested most of the time when waking
  • A separate study found that sleeping in the afternoon, as well as at night, can markedly improve learning and memory for teenagers
  • This is regardless of whether participants had enough sleep over a 24-hour period


SINGAPORE — More than half of the Singaporeans surveyed in a global study said that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on their ability to sleep well.

The study, undertaken by global health technology firm Philips and released on Wednesday (March 17), found that 57 per cent of the 1,000 Singaporeans surveyed said that the pandemic had directly impacted their sleeping patterns.

Close to three in 10 — 28 per cent — also said that they now sleep less each night, while fewer than half felt that they get enough sleep at night.

Only 21 per cent of the respondents said that they feel well-rested most of the time when waking up in the morning.

Philips polled 13,000 adults in 13 countries, including 1,000 in Singapore, from Nov 17 to Dec 7 last year for its annual Global Sleep Survey.

The release of the survey results coincides with World Sleep Day on March 19. What Philips found was that Singaporeans are sleeping less this year, averaging 6.8 hours a night on weekdays and 7.3 hours on weekends.

This is a dip from last year’s survey findings, where Singaporeans were found to get an average of seven hours of sleep on weekdays and 7.5 hours on weekends. The recommended amount of nightly sleep for a healthy adult is seven to nine hours a night, the Philips report said. 

Of the countries surveyed, Japan ranked top in terms of the least number of hours slept, averaged across the week, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom.

Singapore came fourth, while respondents in China got the most sleep, on average, at 7.4 hours a night, followed by India at 7.3 hours a night.

Among the Singaporeans surveyed, the reasons for their lack of sleep were:

  • Worry and stress (31 per cent)

  • Sleeping environment (16 per cent)

  • Mobile devices such as phones and tablets (13 per cent)

Singaporeans kept awake by worry and stress said that they worry most about:

  • Work responsibilities (58 per cent)

  • Financial challenges (56 per cent)

  • Family (32 per cent)

  • Their own or family’s health (30 per cent)

Almost a third, or 31 per cent of them, were also kept awake by concerns about the ongoing pandemic.

The use of mobile phones in bed is also a persistent problem and contributes to inconsistent sleep habits, researchers said.

The majority of respondents — or 69 per cent — who use their phone before falling asleep admitted that it led them to fall asleep later than they would like to.

This is due to:

  • Scrolling through social media (71 per cent)

  • Watching videos (62 per cent)

  • Texting (45 per cent)

  • Checking emails (39 per cent)

  • Reading news about the Covid-19 pandemic (28 per cent)

Despite their lack of sleep, Singaporeans were not turning a blind eye to their sleep issues, researchers said.

More than half — or 57 per cent — said that the first time they had a telehealth appointment to combat their sleep-related problems was during the pandemic.

Some were also experimenting with a variety of methods to get a better night’s sleep, including having a set bedtime and wake-up schedule, watching television, reducing caffeine consumption and reading or playing soothing music, the survey noted.

Ms Ivy Lai, country manager of Philips Singapore, said: “The pandemic has undeniably altered our daily routines, including our sleep habits. Despite the time savings from skipping the daily commute, it’s clear that Singaporeans still face multiple challenges in getting good and sufficient quality sleep each night.

“Getting enough sleep is essential for productivity and overall wellness, so it’s crucial that individuals facing persistent sleep issues take action to get themselves diagnosed and treated for serious underlying sleep-related chronic conditions.”


Sleeping not just at night but also in the afternoon can significantly improve learning and memory for teenagers, a separate study found. This was conducted by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the results were released on Wednesday.

This is regardless of whether participants had enough sleep over a 24-hour period.

The fifth series of the study, titled Need for Sleep, investigated the effects of sleep restriction on 112 teenagers aged 15 to 19. The participants were divided into four groups.

They were examined on whether they had sufficient sleep of at least eight hours or whether they had 6.5 hours — the number of hours of sleep that is “common in the local adolescent population”.

They were also examined on whether the sleep was continuous at night or split between sleep at night and a 1.5-hour nap in the afternoon.

Over two weeks, researchers found that splitting sleep into a shorter period at night and an afternoon nap led to “significant gains” in participants’ afternoon memory performance. The split-sleep schedule also did not impair learning in the morning.

Analysis of the brain activity during sleep suggested that the opportunity to engage in “slow wave sleep”, often referred to as deep sleep, during the nap could have contributed to this.

Professor Michael Chee, the study’s principal investigator, said: “Demonstrating the benefit of a multi-night split-sleep schedule on memory in two different tasks in the same students is a unique finding and should persuade educators to make provisions for napping.”

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