Geum Yi

Even babies don’t get enough sleep in South Korea

February 19, 2016

Attributed to parents watching TV and sharing a bedroom with their children

(Korea Times file)

(Korea Times file)

By Kim Bo-eun

In Korea, a notoriously sleep-deprived nation, even infants and toddlers don’t get enough sleep, according to a study released Friday.

Compared with babies in other Asian and Western countries, Korean babies get the least hours of sleep a day as well as have the latest bedtimes, according to a study conducted by Ahn Young-min, a pediatrics professor at Eulji General Hospital.

In collaboration with a number of institutions including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the U.S., her team examined the sleep patterns of 1,036 Korean infants and toddlers under 36 months and some 30,000 babies in 17 countries. Asian countries included China and India, while Western countries included the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Korean babies slept for a total of 11 hours and 53 minutes a day on average, while other Asian babies slept for 12 hours and 19 minutes and Western babies, 13 hours and 1 minute.

Moreover, Koreans babies had the latest bedtime, at 10:08 p.m. on average. Babies in other Asian nations went to bed at 9:25 p.m., and those in Western nations at 8:25 p.m.

The team attributed this to parents watching TV and sharing a bedroom with their children.

“Many Korean parents sleep in the same room with their babies, and as they don’t go to sleep until late, staying up to watch television, the babies also go to bed late,” Ahn said.

In fact, only 5.5 percent of Korean babies slept in a separate room from their parents, while 63 percent slept in their parents’ beds and 30.6 percent slept in their parents’ room but not in the same bed.

In contrast, 66.2 percent of Western babies slept in a separate room, while 21.3 percent and 12.5 percent slept in their parents’ rooms and in their parents’ beds.

The study also showed that 47 percent of Korean parents believe their children have problems with their sleep patterns but only 2.3 percent regarded this as a serious matter.

The study, titled “Sleep Patterns among South Korean Infants and Toddlers: Global Comparison,” was published in the February edition of the Journal of Korean Medical Science.