POSTED: October 31 2016
UK: Nation of sleepless nights – one in four UK adults want a better night’s sleep

UK: Nation of sleepless nights – one in four UK adults want a better night’s sleep

The UK is home to more self-confessed poor sleepers than many other countries, a new international comparison from Aviva reveals. And Aviva’s latest Health Check UK report finds that getting enough sleep has become one of the UK’s top health ambitions.

Aviva’s international research compares whether people get enough sleep in 13 countries across Europe, North America and Asia and indicates that UK adults rank among the worst sleepers. Over a third (37%) of adults in the UK say they do not get the right amount of sleep, the highest proportion of any of the countries surveyed.

Separately, Aviva’s Health Check UK report finds that a quarter of UK adults (25%) list getting a better night’s sleep as a health ambition. This is now the second most common health ambition, beaten only by the desire to lose weight or improve BMI score (34%).

As the hundredth anniversary of turning the clocks back this weekend gives the UK an extra hour in bed, Aviva’s research suggests that getting more sleep may just be what the nation needs.

Aviva’s latest Health Check UK research finds that three in ten (29%) families plan to take action to improve their sleep over the next 12 months, compared to just 20% who did this in the past year. Getting better sleep has seen the biggest shift in family health priorities across any of the actions suggested by Aviva’s research, including doing more exercise and losing weight (both up by eight percentage points).

In fact, more families plan to take action to sleep better (29%) in the year ahead than plan to reduce sugar intake (22%) or eat more healthily (26%). Only half (51%) of parents say they ensure their children get the right amount of sleep.

Children’s sleep patterns are a key factor that shape parents’ happiness with their family’s overall health. In households that are happy with their family’s health, only 15% of parents have concerns over the amount of sleep their children get. In households that are unhappy with family health, twice as many parents (34%) have concerns over the amount of sleep their children get. Nevertheless, half of parents (49%) admit to using going to bed later as a reward or motivation for their children.

Aviva’s Health Check UK report also shows that not getting enough sleep impacts on our ability to exercise – with 44% of UK adults saying they are generally too tired to exercise. Women are more affected than men with 52% of females feeling they are too tired to exercise, compared to 35% of males.

And the shorter days following the clocks turning back makes exercise far less appealing, with 57% of women and 48% of men saying they find it more difficult to exercise in the darker months. Younger age groups are particularly affected: 61% of 18-24s agree, compared to 45% of over 55s.

While still relatively low, the overall proportion of UK adults using sleep monitors has nearly doubled in past year (from 4% to 7%). Younger age groups are far more likely to already be tracking their sleep, with 16% of 25-34s using a sleep monitor. And overall, 49% of UK adults would consider using a sleep monitor in the future.

Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director for Aviva UK Health comments: “If it feels like you’re always running on empty, you’re not alone: our research shows that as a nation we’re some of the worst sleepers in the world, with two in five of us feeling we are not getting the right amount of sleep. It’s therefore no surprise that so many aspire to getting their full forty winks.

“The importance of getting a decent night’s sleep should never be underestimated. Sleep plays an important role in mental and physical health, with your body using this time to renew and repair. However, it’s very easy to make a habit of going to bed too late, or not being able to switch off when you do eventually turn in for the night.

“Sometimes a few lifestyle changes are all that’s needed to boost your sleep levels, such as establishing a routine, eating dinner earlier in the night or avoiding TV and mobile phone screens before bed. Sleep trackers are also a great way of monitoring your rest patterns. However, if stress, anxiety or other mental health issues are what’s keeping you awake, getting help and support – including seeking advice from your GP – is recommended. Tackling sleepless nights is a crucial step to improving overall health and wellbeing.”

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