Asia-Pacific News

Singaporeans among most sleep deprived worldwide

Peter Dazeley | Photographer's Choice RF | Getty Images

Asian cities are renowned for their grueling work schedules and a recent study confirmed that Singaporeans are among the most likely to miss out on valuable shut-eye.

Singapore is the third most sleep-deprived of the 43 cities profiled in a report published by Jawbone, the makers of digitized wristband that tracks sleep patterns, this week.

People living in the Southeast Asian financial hub average 6 hours and 32 minutes of sleep a night, beating only Tokyo and Seoul where people average less than six hours. Tokyo is the world's most sleep-deprived city; residents average of 5 hours and 44 minutes of sleep a night.

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Some analysts linked Singaporeans' lack of sleep to the well-established culture of working long hours. eFinancial Careers, a global online financial careers website, revealed in its recently published Money Never Sleeps survey that 78 percent of financial service professionals in Singapore work beyond their contracted hours.

The bulk of those working overtime do so to coordinate with overseas offices and often have to arrive early or stay late to take part in conference calls with overseas colleagues, eFinancialCareers found.

The study found that nearly three in ten of people work between 51 to 60 hours a week, while 11 percent work more than 50 hours a week. Furthermore, 43 percent of professionals in financial services are contactable around the clock, over weekends and during holidays.

Over a third of people surveyed said they had been woken up during the night by a call from a colleague or client and two thirds said their annual leave had been disrupted by work.

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"Singapore, like many competitive and fast-paced societies have a 24/7 culture of round-the-clock entertainment, services and businesses," Dr. Lim Li Ling, medical consultant and consultant neurologist at the Singapore Neurology & Sleep Centre at Gleneagles hospital told CNBC.

"High achieving people tend to prioritize maximizing their time and potential by frenetic multitasking, while those struggling to get by might work long hours or in shifts or multiple jobs to make ends meet, or to upgrade their skills," Dr. Lim added.

Jawbone profiled a sample of 5,000 wristband users for all the cities it surveyed.

The data found that most well-rested people were located in Melbourne, Australia, where users averaged 6 hours and 58 minutes a night.

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Among other interesting observations, Dubai has the most leisurely sleep schedule, with 10 percent of users still asleep by 11am. In Beijing there is a tendency for workers to take afternoon naps at work, and also in Madrid, although afternoon siestas are more popular on the weekend.

People in Brisbane Australia are the earliest to bed, with an average bedtime of 10:57 pm, and the earliest to rise at 6.29am. At the other end of the spectrum, Moscow city dwellers are the latest to bed at 12.46am and the latest to rise at 8.08am.

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Experts generally recommend between seven and nine hours sleep per night for healthy adults, although there is much debate around this topic.

According to a Wall Street Journal article published last month, recent research shows that skimping on a full night's sleep, even by 20 minutes, impairs performance and memory the next day, while getting too much sleep can be linked to diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

"Sleep deprivation - if extreme and long term, actually is associated with higher mortality. This is the simplest way of getting the message across, getting too little sleep shortens your survival," said Dr. Lim.

"Lack of sleep is a silent and insidious killer and probably an unrecognized epidemic especially in developed nations and competitive societies. Getting enough quality sleep is a vital first step to optimal health," she added.