Let’s Sleep More, Let’s Sleep Better

TODAY, youths like us don’t get enough sleep. Studies show that Singapore is the second in the world with the least hours of sleep, clocking of an average of 6 hours 32 minutes per day. That’s close to two hours short of the requisite eight.

Call it sleep deprivation, or even insomnia, but I like to think of this as a sleep crisis, a major health concern. There’s just too much stress and too much work. Assignments come thick and fast, especially over the AA and PT season—you know, that April-May, July-August period when all of us are scrambling to complete those rotten Alternative Assignments and Performance Tasks, all over a two-week window.

One time, we had a Social Studies exam and two AAs due in one week. The luckier and perhaps not as diligent students like me turned in at one o’clock for two consecutive nights, but there are many who pulled in all-nighters.

One burden teachers can lift from our shoulders is to organize our pen-and-paper assessments well clear of the deadline weeks. We’re not asking them to cut down on the workload. We’re RGS girls, after all. We aren’t wimps. We can juggle our CCAs and the million other commitments in our lives, but all we ask for is this: smarter assessment scheduling.

The other problem most teens run up against is the noise of the digital world. Our frontal lobe is too botched up with too many things, multi-tasked to the point of insanity—Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram. Then there’s Twitter and Tumblr.

That’s why we should take a phone fast, and go cold turkey, even if it’s for five minutes. But come on, surely we can do better than that! So here’s what I propose: 20 minutes before you turn in, no phone, no television, no Macbook, no assignment, nothing to get your brain buzzing too wildly. That means you’ve got to commit to an exact bedtime, and stick with it. Make it a ritual, make it sacred.

Reflect on your day. Think of one major victory. Think of one thing you’re grateful for. And if you must think of your failures for the day, think of them as mistakes— mistakes that help you grow as a person. Now, I urge you, write down all your reflections in a journal, and call this your gratitude journal.

If you’re in the habit of venting, don’t. Venting is venomous, and it isn’t particularly edifying for the mind.

For all of us who are such good friends with stress, and that demon, insomnia, think about our abundant blessings. It’s one sure way of inviting sleep into our nights. Sleep, after all, is like a baby. It needs to be coaxed, cajoled a little, and cooed. So the next time you’re really having trouble going to sleep, think of the three Cs: coax, cajole, and coo. Think of them also as a quiet prayer of thank you and gratitude.

(497 words, approximately 3 minutes of talk-time)

Lim Zhi Yi, Secondary Three
September 2016

For more essays by Zhi Yi, visit Zhi Yi Writes.

This essay was written as a speech in response to the question:
Identify a problem that students have to grapple with and suggestion possible solutions

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