SweetDream Malaysia wants you to improve your sleep by improving your swimming! Yes, you read that right.

Considering the myriad of benefits quality sleep brings to our mental and physical well-being, it is common knowledge that getting a good night’s rest is a big part of healthy living. Yet, for many, getting optimal sleep can feel like a daunting task, especially in these current times of crisis. 

Whether it’s caused by stress or illness, poor sleep plagues many people, offering little relief  from day after day of hectic schedules, causing more distress and fatigue. According to a research paper that was conducted less than a decade ago, 33.8% of the general population in Malaysia were reported to have insomnia symptoms, while 12.2% had chronic insomnia. Although sleep and exercise may seem to be mediated by completely different physiological mechanisms, the link between the two behaviours are undeniable. 

Studies have shown that individuals with chronic insomnia who begin regular exercise can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It’s no secret that regular exercise of any kind can improve your health, whether that includes walking, running, or sporting activities. However, swimming is often deemed as the most medically beneficial for people of all ages, and for good reason. 

Unlike running or jogging, swimming has an added advantage of having a much lower risk of injury on the body due to its low impact nature. The buoyancy of water lessens the stress of gravity’s pull of the weight-bearing joints. On top of that, swimming engages all of the major muscle groups. All the main four strokes engage the abdominals, biceps, triceps, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Other primary muscles used in swimming include the anterior and posterior deltoids, pectorals, and trapezius.

Unfortunately, as beneficial as swimming is as a life skill, many adults and children never experienced the sensation of it. In 2015, New Straits Times reported that deaths by drowning in the country average between 650 and 700 annually over a ten-year period, without decreasing. To put things into perspective, our drowning rate per year for a population of 29 million is too high compared with Australia, which has a similarly sized population and a drowning rate of 300.

Noticing the many health issues that have been prevalent across the nation, SweetDream  has taken upon themselves to be a part of the solution. “We wanted to run this programme to highlight the important benefits of exercise and its positive relationship to sleep,” said Tan Kai Hoe, spokesperson of SweetDream Malaysia.

In collaboration with MySwim Coaching, the renowned mattress manufacturer is launching a swimming course for a number of winning participants, titled Swim Well, Sleep Well. The campaign focuses on one of two options; stroke correction or learning to swim freestyle, and will be conducted through six sessions over the course of six weeks. Following months of delay due to the coronavirus, the programme finally had its launch today. To commemorate Swim Well, Sleep Well, we conducted a round table interview with the individuals behind the programme: SweetDream Malaysia’s Tan Kai Hoe and Kok Lee Min as well as MySwim Coaching’s Shauqie Aziz and Wong Pui Yan.

The second round of entries for the Swim Well, Sleep Well campaign will be announced soon; stay up-to-date via the SweetDream Malaysia Facebook page.

SweetDream Malaysia
Kok Lee Min, executive director of SweetDream Malaysia; Shauqie Aziz, MySwim coach; Tan Kai Hoe, director of SweetDream Malaysia; and Wong Pui Yan, director of MySwim

How did the collaboration between SweetDream and MySwim come together?

Kai Hoe: It made a lot of sense, especially through the point of view of running a company. Discipline, consistency, as well as confidence are all vital qualities when it comes to running a company. One day, I realised that Lee Min has always been the one who embodies all of those qualities. Due to her lifestyle, she wakes up on time consistently on a daily, and as a result she has been constantly improving herself over time. Through her growth, I can see how much benefit swimming can bring to a person.

Once I had the idea, I asked her whether it’d be a good idea if we could explore a programme that’s centered in teaching people how to swim. I thought it’d be a great idea to dive deep into the connection between exercising and sleeping. I believe that through swimming, you can improve your sleep quality. Eventually, I was introduced to MySwim through my wife. And that’s when I met Shauqie, the coach. 

Lee Min: When we had a meeting with Shauqie, I explained the basis of the programme and what it’s going to be like. Immediately, he was excited about the direction of the programme. He agreed that there is an undeniable connection between sleeping and swimming.

 

Why is it important that adults learned how to swim?

Shauqie: Almost all of the exercises we do, including running, are considered as high impact exercises. Which means that these activities are damaging to your joints. Swimming is the only exercise that is relaxing due to its impactless nature. I genuinely believe that swimming is one of the best things that can happen in a person’s life.

Which is why when Kai Hoe brought this idea that he had to my attention, I never thought what I do can be related to mattresses. Yet, over time, the connection became more and more apparent to me. All in all, the programme by SweetDream Malaysia – Swim Well, Sleep Well appealed to me because of how unprecedented it is as a programme. 

 

Nowadays, more people are experiencing health issues such as scoliosis and chronic pain, which often lead to insomnia. How will this programme benefit these people?

Shauqie: For people with scoliosis, the number of activities you can do is significantly reduced. You’re not advised to run, perform jump squats, or any exercise that is high impact in nature. These activities would be counterintuitive since you are worsening your condition instead of relieving the pain. 

On the other hand, swimming freestyle allows you to stretch your body, and as a result the exercise is lengthening your body. And since you’re not compressing your body, swimming actually helps in soothing your back as well. That being said, proper techniques are required to achieve optimal results. 

 

With the pandemic still looming over us, what precautions have the programme taken to ensure that it is safe for people to participate in the program?

Pui Yan: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of recreational waters. In addition, it has also been reported that the virus would not be transmittable in properly chlorinated water. And since we’re conducting the courses in an open-air location, the ventilation of the pool is stellar. 

In terms of COVID-19 precautions, we’d make sure that social distancing is implemented at all times and all participants are taking the necessary hygiene measures throughout the course. On top of that, the coaches are assigned to swimmers based of the number of participants, one coach for every four participants. Thus, reducing the opportunity for close contact.

Shauqie: The sessions would take place from 7am to 8am, which is basically non-public swimming hours. In length, it’s a 50-metre pool and the width is about 22 metres. To put things into perspective, it’s eight people in an Olympic-sized pool. It’s very safe.

 

Can we have a breakdown of the programmes?

Pui Yan: So there are two programmes. For the first programme, we are looking for people who are able to swim breaststroke as well as people with no swimming background, to teach them how to swim freestyle. Throughout the programme, we will explore the different strokes. These strokes would be extremely beneficial for adults in building their general foundation. Throughout the course, we would teach them how to swim freestyle in six sessions.

The second programme is for those with some experience in swimming freestyle but have yet to master the technique.  We’re going to correct your stroke a little bit. Show you how to breathe properly, do your strokes, as well as how to kick properly. By the end of the course, you’d be able to swim non-stop, be it hundred-meter laps or even a kilometre. So that’s what we’re trying to achieve.

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