With the country getting an extra hour in bed as the clocks go back this weekend, Aviva’s latest study reveals that over half (51%) of the nation say they are not getting the recommended seven hours or more sleep per night. On average, UK adults were found to be getting just under six and a half hours of sleep per night.
When asked about the main reasons why they are not getting enough sleep, nearly one in five people surveyed cited money worries (18%) followed by health or medical problems (16%) and workplace pressure (11%). Almost 1–in–10 (9%) of survey respondents attributed lack of sleep to family and relationship issues.
On average, UK adults said they had five nights of trouble sleeping in the past month because of money–related stress, with nearly half (45%) agreeing that the cost of living and the associated financial squeeze are keeping them awake at night. Those surveyed said they are worried because they are struggling to pay utility bills such as electricity, gas or water (24%) and having difficulty affording food, drink and other necessities (21%).
Almost two thirds (64%) of UK adults were also experiencing physical or mental health problems. Nearly a third (31%) of survey respondents said they are feeling tired all the time, and over a quarter (29%) said they were experiencing mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. One in five (20%) of people surveyed said they had gained weight, and another 18% said they are having difficulty concentrating and/ or memory problems.
Dr Subashini M, medical director, Aviva UK health says: “Aviva’s research highlights the worrying impact that the current period of uncertainty is having on the nation’s mental and physical health. Without a good night’s sleep, we can find it more difficult to function and deal with the challenges of everyday life. Our research highlights worrying trends, such as feeling tired all the time, mental health problems and difficulty concentrating, which could also affect productivity and someone’s ability to work effectively and safely. As well as suffering general fatigue, people who regularly don’t get enough sleep are at a higher risk of serious medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The current financial situation is likely to continue for some time, and sleep alone isn’t going to solve everything, however, it’s a good place to start.”
Sleeping difficulties were also negatively affecting the sufferers’ social lives (35%) and relationship with their partners (26%). Just over a third (34%) of UK adults said sleeping difficulties are negatively affecting their work or academic performance, further highlighting the importance of adequate and quality sleep for both health and social as well as professional life.
Reassuringly, the research findings suggest that most UK adults are aware of how important it is to get the right amount of sleep, with more than 7 in 10 (72%) taking measures to sleep better.
Dr Subashini M, medical director, Aviva UK health continues: “Sleep isn’t just about restoring our energy levels after a hard day, it plays an essential role in keeping our mind and body working well. While we sleep, a number of physiological processes take place relating to our immune system, our metabolism, how we age, how we process and retain information and how we manage stress, to name a few. There are lots of methods available to help aid sleep, such as having a good sleep routine, allowing time to wind down and going to sleep at a similar time. It’s also a good thing to avoid electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime, as they give out blue light that can stop sleep. Controlling light and noise levels, alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine can also help with quality of sleep. If sleep becomes a real concern and is impacting your mental well–being, therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy can be really useful for some. Your GP can advise on the most suitable course of action.”
“The most important thing is tackling the root cause of the problem. There’s a whole host of support and information available through charities and specialist organisations, and it’s likely that any health and well–being benefits you receive through your employer will include practical tools to help support your mental, physical and financial well–being.”