By Aaron Gan (14S05A), Celine Liu (15A01E), Kate Tan (15S03U)
Think of the words ‘Rafflesians’ and ‘sleep’ in the same sentence and you would probably put one word in between: don’t. In our hectic day to day lives sleep can often take a backseat to our other plans, after all, there is work to be done, CTs to ace and friends to hang out with. At this age our energy may seem boundless and our bodies invincible; everyone knows a quick nap between classes cures all ills anyway, but sleep (or the lack thereof) is not something that should be taken lightly. The most obvious effect of sleep deprivation is of course sleepiness, which by itself brings about a host of problems including dizziness, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. In fact, just an hour and a half of lost sleep can reduce alertness by 32%. The consequences are extensive, increasing health risks over the long run and even causing mental illnesses, and yet these consequences are easily ignored even when our bodies are screaming for sleep; caffeine, power naps or simply getting used to constant fatigue are all ways in which we ignore this fundamental need for rest.
Just from observation alone it is obvious that many amongst us are not getting enough sleep, so in an effort to address this too-prevalent problem, Raffles Press conducted a survey to find out the sleeping habits of the average Rafflesian.
Sleep is paramount to both our mental and physical well-being, a fact that is not unknown to the average Rafflesian; when faced with the dreaded Student’s Trilemma, over 60% valued their sleep over their work or social life. And yet the numbers do not reflect this. Perhaps the most worrisome trend found was that only 6% of people surveyed are getting 8 or more hours of sleep per weekday, the average recommended amount needed to function optimally. While this number goes up to 76% on weekends, making up for lost sleep over two days is far from ideal, as even short term sleep deprivation during the weekdays can have effects on your mood and ability to focus in class, accounting for the more than 65% of respondents who fall in class at least sometimes if not daily. Furthermore, even though most respondents feel the urge to sleep at around 10-11pm, the majority only went to bed at 12, choosing to ignore their body’s natural response to sleep deprivation. Naps have been proven to help restore alertness and lessen the effects of sleep deprivation, and yet 40% of respondents rarely if ever took naps, in comparison to the 11% who nap everyday.
What is heartening to know however is that few Rafflesians have problems falling asleep at night, with only 10% frequently taking half an hour or more to sleep. Yet this could perhaps also be another symptom of sleep deprivation, studies have shown that falling asleep within 5 minutes can actually indicate a sleep disorder. At the end of the day, the importance of sleep should not be understated. While some respondents blamed their lack of sleep on the burdensome workload from school and CCAs, a strong majority admitted that time management also played a large factor. Yet no matter what the cause, it all depends on where our priorities lie, and sleep should definitely be on top of the list. Life will continue to get busier and we will continue to make excuses, but sacrifices must be made. Everyone has 24 hours a day, not all can be spent awake: where will you draw the line?