A new study into the nation’s sleep – or lack of it – ahead of National Sleep In Day (28 October) shows as many as one in ten British adults are getting by on fewer than five hours’ sleep a night.
The study of 2,000 people, commissioned by family bed-maker Harrison Spinks, asked the UK public to rate their sleep and, despite many saying they get seven-plus hours of sleep a night, not so many would say they were getting a good night’s sleep – almost a quarter (23%) described their sleep quality as 3/10 or worse (0 being the poorest rating). Sheffield topped the list for lowest quality of sleep, followed by Belfast and Manchester.
Poor quality sleep is impacting Londoners’ daytime wellbeing with a quarter (25%) saying they never feel completely refreshed and 15% said they felt sluggish for the whole working week. Furthermore, according to Mattress-Guides, poor sleep can also have a negative impact on our mental health, which can lead to serious issues such as (but not limited to) depression.
Reliance on technology, eating and drinking late and alcohol may go some way to explain the capital’s nocturnal anxieties – over a third of Londoners (34%) browse the internet, almost half check their phone, tablet or laptop and 26% smoke or drink in the hours before bed.
Sleep expert and presenter of Channel 4’s The Secret of Sleep, James Wilson said: “The workplaces of Britain are seeing the impact of poor sleep, in terms of absence and productivity. I talk to hundreds of poor sleepers every month and they often report that they just don’t understand sleep, even at the most basic level.
“There is so much conflicting advice and lack of clarity on how to sleep well. Often people compare their sleep against an unrealistic expectation which increases anxiety around their sleep and leads them to worry more and sleep worse.
“I encourage people to understand what their sleep need is, in terms of quality and quantity, who they are as sleepers – larks, owls or typical – and what changes they need to make to their mindset, behaviours and sleep environment.
“To induce sleep we need to have a drop in heart rate – be relaxed – and a drop in core temperature – be cool – so we need to consider if what we do before bed and what we sleep on and under helps this process. Too many people try and actively force sleep, when what we need to do to sleep better is create the right conditions for sleep to come to us.”
Ruairi Giles, Commercial Director at Harrison Spinks said: “We know that we are in the midst of a sleep epidemic and these statistics show the difficulties that people face trying to get to sleep and stay asleep.
“It’s interesting that both physical discomforts and worries are in the top reasons for people struggling to get to sleep and waking in the night. Our fast-paced world and reliance on technology seem to be impacting on people’s sleep and wellbeing.
“Whilst we can’t solve the problems that make people stressed, creating an environment more conducive to sleep – such as banning technology in the bedroom and opting for a supportive and comfortable mattress with heat-regulating natural fibres – can drastically improve the sleep process.”
Almost half (48%) the Londoners surveyed said that they found it difficult or very difficult to get to sleep. Feeling stressed (48%), not being able to get comfortable (29%), and feeling too hot (23%) were the main reasons for people struggling to get to sleep. Londoners admitted that worries about money/finances (18%), work issues (14%) and family issues (16%) kept them awake.