Last month, I attended my brother’s marriage ceremony. After the lunch, we went up to his hotel room for a traditional Chinese tea ceremony where the newly weds served tea to the elders. While this was happening, I noticed my 16 y.o. nephew had dozed off on the sofa, missing all the fun with the family. When I enquired about the cause, I was told that he had been kept awake the night before by the computer games while everyone was asleep. I felt deeply concerned for him because he was messing up his internal clock, depriving his body-mind system the necessary renewal it needed. He already has the health problem related to fatty liver due to poor diet. Apparently, this is a common habit among teenagers and young adults in Singapore as we are such a wired-up nation where 24/7 entertainment by media like TV or internet is widely available.
In fact, a poll conducted on 940 students in 26 secondary schools (age 14-17) in a Teen Sleep Survey Singapore 2007 revealed that 80 per cent of them are getting less than eight hours of sleep on school days, while only 2.6 per cent are getting the recommended nine hours as compared to 9% in United States. The survey was approved by the Ministry of Education and several local institutional review boards which was modelled on the National Sleep in America polls. The result showed that the situation in Singapore was worse than America which was very disturbing. I noticed that in Singapore, the importance of sleep is not well-appreciated. Parents, who may acknowledge that their teenage children are not getting enough sleep, are also unsure about what to do about it.
At the prime age of youth, they should be expressing enormous energy, creativity and a passion for life. However, due to unhealthy lifestyle habits of modern living, peer pressure, stress from school and wrong conditioning by media, I’ve seen some of our youths are becoming listless in family or social gathering, they lack intensity yet mentally are restless, irritable easily and have poor concentration. Unless the parents themselves take responsbility by interferring, the children will develop many problems at the physical, mental and emotional levels at later life stage.