POSTED: August 01 2017
Losing sleep over health worries.

Losing sleep over health worries.

A survey from leading health insurer, Bupa, suggests that up to 32 million adults in the UK has a disturbed sleep due to health concerns.

Britons are becoming a nation of night time worrywarts with more than three fifths of the nation1 – that’s over 32million adults – waking up in the middle of the night thinking about a health concern that hasn’t been checked off of their to-do list, according to new data from Bupa Health Clinics.

The research identified 4.05am as the most common time for a ‘health wakeup call’, and it’s overdue dental check-ups (25%), losing weight (23%) and talking to someone about stress or a mental health issue (20%) that are disturbing the country’s sleep the most. Booking a GP appointment for a niggling symptom2  and getting a general health check-up3  complete the top five concerns, according to the research by Bupa Health Clinics, which surveyed over 4,000 people across the UK.

Worryingly, a fifth of Britons admit that general health tasks are the least likely area of ‘life’ to be checked off the to-do list, being frequently delayed instead. People are more likely to complete tasks related to work, their finances or relationships instead; meaning that paying in a cheque, asking for a pay-rise and even arranging a date will be prioritised over booking a GP appointment or scheduling in a health check.

However, it’s not hearing the potential outcome of medical appointments that’s putting people off, as almost half4  of respondents agree that there is just always something ‘more important’ to deal with in their busy lives.

Dr Luke James, Medical Director at Bupa Health Clinics says: “This research highlights that despite de-prioritising them, lingering health tasks can quickly go from being a simple reminder to book an appointment, to enough to keep you up at night – 59% percent of respondents struggle to nod off when they go to bed and are instead worrying about not giving their health the attention it needs.

“The issue is that persistent worrying can lead to further problems – blood pressure can go up and people can start suffering from things like heart palpitations. These are potentially more serious conditions, which can be much more difficult to bounce back from. It’s time for the nation to act, tick those actions off the list, and worry less.”

However, health-related ‘to-dos’ popping into our minds is not confined to the early hours – other common worry-moments are during the nation’s down time (19%), in the shower (7%) and on the daily commute (6%).

The research also revealed that people in Belfast are the most likely to be woken up by a nagging health related task, followed by people from Cardiff, then Bristolians, those from Edinburgh and lastly the residents of Glasgow.

From a more national perspective, health-related tasks pop into our heads an average of five times a week with the top ten concerns being:

  1. A dental check up
  2. Losing weight
  3. Talking to someone about stress or a mental health concern
  4. Booking a GP appointment about a niggling symptom
  5. A general health assessment
  6. Treating aches and pains
  7. Getting a fly jab
  8. Getting a mole checked
  9. Giving up smoking
  10. Treating a skin related issue like psoriasis or eczema

Dr Luke James, Medical Director at Bupa Health Clinics, shares advice on how to put an end to the 4am wake-up call:

TIP 1: Use pester-power:
Enlist a close friend or relative that will ask you about your health. It can work two-ways – you can nudge each other to make those all-important appointments or enquiries.

TIP 2: Make it enjoyable:
Take yourself (and your to-do list) out for a coffee or breakfast once a month and work through your actions in a calm and enjoyable environment. You’ll soon stop thinking of it as another thing you ‘must’ do and instead look forward to the time you’ve given yourself and the peace of mind it gives you in return.

TIP 3: Give yourself a once over:
If you’ve been letting health tasks fall off the list, your worrying may start to escalate unnecessarily. To quickly regain peace of mind, book yourself a health MOT, giving all areas of concern a once over at the same time. A Bupa health assessment also includes a coaching follow up call from our experts which will help you stick to your goals and get those health-related tasks checked off the list.

With more than 50 Bupa Health Clinics across the country offering pay as you go health services, it’s easy to book appointments at a convenient time and place to ensure those health-related tasks are checked off the list. Offering health assessments, physiotherapy, dermatology, GP appointments and much more, Bupa Health Clinics can provide peace of mind and convenience for busy Brits, and you don’t need insurance to benefit.


Research: The research surveyed 4,062 people over the age of 16 and was commissioned by Bupa Health Clinics and carried out by Censuswide in June 2017.

1  61% of Britons over 16
2  18.2% of Britons over 16
3  17.9% of Britons over 16
4  44% of Britons over 16

For more information on Bupa, visit

You can see the Bupa press release in full here.