How half of us are too stressed to sleep: Millions fail to get six hours a night experts say we need
Higher earners sleep more soundly than those on a low incomeAverage Briton goes to bed at 11.15pm and sleeps for just over six hours

Daily Mail Reporter


00:01 GMT, 1 March 2013



12:23 GMT, 1 March 2013

More than 20 per cent of Britons sleep poorly most nights (file picture)

More than 20 per cent of Britons sleep poorly most nights (file picture)

Millions of us are struggling to get enough sleep, a study has found – and it’s putting our health at risk.

Two out of five Britons fail to get six hours a night, the minimum experts say we need for physical and mental wellbeing.

This number has soared in the past three years. One in three of us now manages on five to six hours a night, compared with 27 per cent in 2010. Three quarters sleep for seven hours or fewer.

Almost half of Britons say stress or worry keeps them awake at night, according to a report published today by The Sleep Council.

More than 5,000 people were surveyed about their sleeping habits in The Great British Bedtime Report.

It found the average Briton goes to bed at 11.15pm and gets six hours and 35 minutes sleep per night. Research suggests seven and a half hours is the optimum level for good health.

Earlier this week scientists at Surrey University revealed that just seven days of poor sleep can disrupt hundreds of genes linked to stress, immunity and inflammation.

Dr Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, said worsening sleep habits were a ‘significant’ cause for concern.

He said: ‘Disrupted sleep not only impacts on quality of life but there’s an increased risk of higher blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

‘Many studies in recent years have concluded there is a higher death rate linked with less than five and a half hours sleep a night and more than nine and a half.

Pugh: 'You can't sleep at night How long has this gone on for'

‘It’s still not clear why, but deterioration in people’s thinking ability alone can occur after just one night of poor sleep.’

He said growing levels of obesity may be partly to blame, with associated health problems stopping those affected – and often their partners – from sleeping properly.

The economic situation isn’t helping either. Dr Idzikowski added: ‘If people lose their job, it can affect sleeping habits, while others may lie awake at night worrying about losing their jobs.’ Forty-seven per cent of the adults questioned in The Sleep Council’s report said stress or worry was stopping them from getting a good night’s sleep.

That figure was far higher for women and singles, at 54 per cent and 57 per cent respectively. For men, it was 40 per cent.

The study found 22 per cent of Britons were sleeping poorly most nights and that men appear to enjoy better-quality sleep than women, with 30 per cent sleeping very well, compared with 22 per cent of women.

High earners get the best sleep of all. More than a third of those earning 65,000 – 75,000 said they slept very well, while 10 per cent of those earning less than 15,000 said they slept very poorly.