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Ask Tripat Singh why sleep is important and you’ll get a simple answer: “don’t sleep for one night and see what happens”. 
The medical doctor decided to dedicate his professional life to preaching the virtues of sleep after ten years of formal education taught him that large swathes of the medical community fail to recognize the crucial role sleep plays in keeping us fit and healthy. 

Drawing attention to the potential causal relationships between sleep deprivation and serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, Tripat has spent the past twelve years convincing medical professionals that sleep is as important to our health as regular exercise, good nutrition and mental well-being.

At the time, Tripat was teaching postgraduate students how to treat people with sleep disorders, in a sleep lab he set up in India to compensate for, in his view, the lack of formal sleep education given to the country’s trainee medical professionals. Training postgraduate students was interesting work, but it also frustrated Tripat. The extent to which he perceived sleep was overlooked in the country’s medical community was vast, and Tripat felt as though the impact he was having as a teacher fell well short of what was required. 

“We would only get one or two postgraduates each year,” he says. “I was looking for a bigger platform which would allow me to do more trainings and reach a larger audience, so that I could help grow the field of sleep medicine at a much faster rate.”

Philips offered exactly that. Since becoming the Clinical Manager of the company’s Sleep and Respiratory Business in ASEAN, Korea and Pakistan, Tripat has taught hundreds of medical professionals how to diagnose and treat sleep disorders – most recently from the company’s Sleep and Respiratory Education Center in Singapore, a state-of-the-art scientific hub which opened in March 2018. 
Spanning 102 square meters, the center includes bedrooms for sleep observation and monitoring, and provides medical professionals with access to the company’s latest sleep and respiratory therapy technologies. The main focus of their training is diagnosing and treating patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). 

Affecting 15% of Singapore’s adult population, OSA causes a sufferer’s throat to close during sleep, which halts their breathing for a few seconds, depriving their body of oxygen and triggering the brain to briefly wake them up, in order to resume breathing [1].

The whole process can repeat itself up to one hundred times every hour, but as the sufferers only wakes for very short periods, they don’t realize what is happening at the time. Of course, when they wake up and go about their day, they feel like they haven’t slept at all. 

According to Tripat, their fatigue could have deadly consequences. “It’s very dangerous because they could fall asleep at any time during the day. They could fall asleep at the wheel, or while operating machinery at work,” he says. “If untreated, it could potentially also lead to further health complications such as hypertension, diabetes and general poor quality of life.”

While occasionally harmless, repetitive snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea.
Myth debunking
The idea that it indicates deep sleep is a pervasive misconception in Singapore – one of many that Tripat and his team regularly debunk. (Training yourself to get by on less sleep, or ‘banking sleep’ in advance by sleeping in on the weekends before a week of late nights, are other such examples of wishful thinking.)
Fortunately, Philips has developed a wide range of sleep therapy devices (CPAP machines) and masks that help sleep apnea sufferers get a full night’s rest, by providing patients with a constant flow of airway pressure that prevents their throats from collapsing during sleep. The impact on users’ lives could be huge, possibly reducing their risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, while also possibly increasing their productivity in the workplace, by improving their attention, memory and decision-making.

Driven by the belief that achieving a high quality of sleep is just as important as sleeping for at least seven hours each night, Tripat says Philips “has recently moved beyond treating sleep apnea, towards products which help to enhance the efficiency of your sleep”. One example of this new wave of products is SmartSleep. The wearable headband improves the quality of your deep sleep, by playing tones specifically designed to boost the slow waves responsible for washing away the unnecessary brain cell connections made during the course of a day. Some users feel the benefits after only one night of using the product, and 80% report positive results in the first two weeks of use [2]. 

While the products will play a vital role in helping Philips achieve its aim of improving 3 billion lives every year by 2025, the company also understands that sophisticated sleep therapy technologies alone won’t be enough to reach that goal. Which is why, in addition to training medical professionals, channel partners and internal sales teams, Tripat drafts curriculums and creates sleep program for universities, to address the academic imbalance that led him to join Philips in the first place. 

“That's one thing I really appreciate about Philips: their thorough commitment to providing education without tinkering it in any way,” he says. “You don't get that kind of commitment in the corporate world normally – that's a big differentiator of Philips.”

In fact, Tripat says his greatest achievement at Philips was working on creating the ASEAN-wide RPSGT Exam Training Program, the region’s first vocational training program dedicated to helping students obtain the internationally recognized Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT) certification for sleep disorders

“Twelve sleep professionals have gained the RPSGT certification since taking that program,” says Tripat. “It’s become very popular in the region.”

The way Tripat sees it, the success of the program is due in no small part to the atmosphere of trust and respect that Philips Singapore fosters within its workplace.  

In addition to using its mission of improving the lives of others to inspire and engage its employees, Philips grants its staff the freedom to work from home whenever they feel they’d be more productive outside the office – a benefit which Tripat says results in a “wonderful” environment that “definitely helps to boost creativity” and innovation.

“It's more of a results-oriented work culture rather than a sitting-in-the-office type culture,” he says. 

“Philips shows faith in us, and as a result, our confidence in what we are doing and how we are doing it increases.”


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