Voices of Youth: Earlier bedtime better than later school start time

I welcome the research studies that the Ministry of Education has commissioned to delve more deeply into the quantity and quality of sleep of Singapore's school-going population.

Undeniably, a later school start time sounds like an attractive solution.

After all, assuming students sleep at the same time, they will be able to get more sleep with school starting later.

However, we should recognise that the intended benefits may not fully materialise, as students may simply sleep later.

For example, a 2016 study involving a local school found that a 45-minute delay in school start time resulted in a mere 10-minute increase in sleep time.

With schools starting later, there could also be unintended consequences, such as a greater surge in traffic during the morning peak hours as it could coincide with the start times at workplaces.

While this does not mean that we cannot seriously consider having our schools start later, we should be cognisant that it is no silver bullet.

It would be more effective if students aim to sleep earlier on a consistent basis.

While it might be challenging at the start, this would create a healthy sleep pattern that would allow students to get enough sleep even if schools start early.

Personally, I found the transition to sleeping at 9.30pm and waking up at 4.30am for training in national service tough at the start, but my body eventually acclimatised.

I hope that all Singaporeans, regardless of their age, will develop healthy sleeping habits. After all, a good rest at night is always so refreshing.

Lee Young Kai, 19

Full-time national serviceman