Bad sleep is a big problem in the UK.
More of us are self-medicating to get to sleep and nearly a third of us don’t get any more than six hours a night.
But could our lifestyle choices be to blame rather than long working hours?
Nearly 13,000 Brits were surveyed by Bensons for Beds and as many as 45% of people are consuming drinks that are known to cause sleep disturbances directly before going to bed.
These include stimulants such as caffeine in tea and coffee, and alcohol, which initially acts as a sedative but causes wakefulness later in the night. While it is recommended that adults drink alcohol no closer than two hours before bedtime, almost a third (33%) admit to having their last alcoholic drink less than one hour before going to sleep.
Dr Guy Meadows, the UK’s foremost sleep expert and founder of The Sleep School says: “Simple changes such as swapping that afternoon cup of coffee for a herbal alternative, or swapping your night-time chocolate for some natural yoghurt and a drop honey can make all the difference and significantly improve not only a person’s sleep but their health more generally.
“Sleep is the most underrated performance enhancer so taking the time to consider and implement these changes in order to achieve the recommended amount of sleep can revolutionise all aspects of a person’s life.”
Almost 40% of UK adults are regularly eating sugary cakes, chocolates and sweets close to bedtime. The stimulating effects of sugar are known to cause a reaction in the body that triggers the fight or flight response, resulting in wakefulness.
At the same time, despite it being one of the most effective ways to increase the depth and quality of sleep, a significant 39% of respondents admitted to never exercising, a statistic with wider implications for the health of the nation than sleep alone.
The top ten lifestyle choices that respondents admitted to conducting, which significantly hinder sleep, are as follows:
1. Never exercising (39%)
2. Drinking alcohol before bed (33%)
3. Drinking caffeinated drinks less than one hour before going to bed (32%)
4. Consumption of chocolate before bed (26%)
5. Drinking tea before bed (20%)
6. Eating less than two hours before bed time (18%)
7. Eating cakes and sweets in the evening (15%)
8. Exercising too late in the evening (this raises your body temperature when it should be cooling in preparation to sleep) (13%)
9. Drinking sugary drinks before bed (10%)
10. Drinking coffee before bed (6%)
Lack of sleep is having a major impact on Brits with 50% recording negative emotions in the morning, including feelings of slowness, grumpiness and depression, and 57% recording feelings of increased hunger due to tiredness.
Broken down by region, the research showed Londoners to be the best slept individuals in the UK, with 53% getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep, whilst the West of England was revealed to be the most tired region as only 12% recorded getting this much sleep.