The ear, nose and throat specialist, who also founded the Asean Sleep Surgical Society and has written multiple books on sleep, says the pandemic has badly affected executives’ rest.
“Many have taken their sleep for granted because they do not need to wake earlier to get ready for the office,” he says. “They sleep later, work late and have very poor sleep quality.”
People also work at home from “strange places” – not at desks, but at dining tables and from the bed, causing strain on the neck, back, and shoulders, he adds. To mitigate this, he recommends exercise, such as a walk.
The doctor is crystal clear that with sleep, quality trumps quantity.
“Some of my patients can sleep for 10 hours, but they are still sleepy and tired,” he says. “Sleep is not just rest. It is an essential time for the body to perform routine maintenance. Dream sleep is essential to feeling refreshed in the morning.”
What about myths of CEOs and founders who famously run on little sleep and get lots done?
“Everybody is different,” Pang admits. “Unfortunately, there is no way to ‘train’ yourself to sleep less. Restricting yourself to only 4 to 5 hours of sleep for several weeks results in slow performance, impaired judgement, irritability and poorer mood.”
He also warns against the myth that older adults need less sleep.
“Older people need the same amount of sleep as everyone else: 7 to 9 hours per night,” he says. “Unfortunately, because of this myth, many do not seek help for sleep problems.”