We know how important sleep is, and although a top-quality bed is a great start in getting a restful night, there are a variety of factors that keep us Brits tossing and turning!
The Sleep Council has recently released its 2017 Great British Bedtime Report – aiming to shed some light on the nation’s sleeping habits. An off-shoot of the National Bed Federation, the Sleep Council aims to promote the physical and mental benefits of a good night’s sleep, and understanding how people sleep is a huge part of this.
Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council said: “It is the first time we have ever undertaken such wide-ranging benchmark consumer research, and being able to compare this year’s data against that produced in 2013 really helps to set the nation’s changing sleep habits into context”.
One key takeaway from the report is that we’re increasingly turning to the bottle to help us nod off: Men are more likely to use alcohol to help them drift off than women, and 45-54-year-olds’ are the biggest culprits when it comes to having a nightcap. But in total, 25% of respondents said they use alcohol to help them get to sleep, compared to just 16% back in 2013.
This is a worrying trend: not only because of the health risks associated with increased alcohol consumption, but, although it seems to help you get to sleep, alcohol can actually disrupt your REM cycle – reducing the overall quality of your sleep and often causing you to wake up earlier than you otherwise would have.
And this is reflected in the fact that we’re not getting as much sleep as before: 74% of us now sleep less than seven hours a night, with most us sleeping between 5 and 7 hours, and 12% getting fewer than 5 hours a night: up 5% from 2013!
The couple that sleeps together doesn’t necessarily stay together, as there’s an increasing trend for sleeping in separate bedrooms. In 2013, just 8% of those surveyed said they slept in a separate room to their partner – but in 2017 this has risen to 12% sleeping apart every night, and 24% sleeping apart at least some of the time.
It’s not just separate bedrooms, either. We’re also turning to bigger beds to get a bit of space from our sleep partners: with the number of respondents who own a king-sized bed jumping 12% – up to 32%. However, figures show that 47% are still sleeping in a standard double.
Over the last few years, the role technology plays in our quality of sleep and the stress of being always connected have both been discussed as public health issues – with France even making it illegal to ask employees to check their work emails after-hours! So it’s encouraging to see that less of us are bringing technology into the bedroom, or doing work when they should be sleeping.
Although the number of those checking social media before bed rose slightly (from 8% to 9%), checking emails has more than halved: from 14% to 6% – must be that French influence! And the number of people that report watching TV in bed has fallen too: from 38% to 30%, while those using a laptop or tablet in bed is down from 12% to 8% – and a surprising 38% of those polled said that they don’t keep a smartphone in their bedroom at all: encouraging statistics, as Lisa Artis put it, “TVs, laptops and games consoles all have a significant impact on our sleeping habits and using a gadget just before bed makes it harder to switch off mentally and wind down.”
We should spend as much as a third of our lives sleeping, to keep ourselves physically and mentally healthy. But sadly, almost half of us say stress is keeping us up. 25% report ‘partner disturbance’ as the thing that has them tossing and turning (perhaps this explains the trend for separate rooms and bigger beds) and 13% say that an uncomfortable bed leaves them unable to sleep.
“Bedtime should be a place where you can switch off, forget about the busyness of the day and relax. We can all suffer from worry and anxieties from time to time, but if its creating unhealthy sleeping habits, people should take action and get the peaceful night’s sleep they deserve.” – Lisa Artis, The Sleep Council
The stereotype goes that women are bigger worriers than men, so perhaps unsurprisingly, 51% of women find themselves up all night due to stress, compared to just 39% of men. And it could be money worries for some of us, since the survey found those who earn more are also prone to sleep more: 71% of those with a household income between £80,000 and £100,000 sleep on average more than six hours per night, whist 50% of those who earn under £10,000 sleep less than six; which could have a knock-on effect, since 23% of those polled say that a bad night’s sleep has a negative impact on their work performance, and 55% claim to feel more ready to ‘face the day’ if they’d slept well the night before.
If you’re finding it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, we’ve put together some tips to ensure you wake up feeling refreshed and well rested. Or take a look at the Sleep Council website, where you can find helpful advice on how to improve sleep quality.
The Sleep Council Great British Bedtime Report was conducted by questioning a sample of 5,002 people between 27 December 2016 and 4 January 2017 via an online survey, ensuring a similar sample to those questioned in 2013.
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