This week sees the launch of a new national campaign to help people get quality sleep; Sleep well, Live well. The website www.sleepwelllivewell.co.uk provides information on sleep problems for people concerned about their sleep quality, and also a resource of information for GPs and other healthcare professionals. The site includes resources on the circadian rhythm (body clock), a sleep quality test, sleep hygiene information and advice on treatments available from the GP. Sleep well, Live well is provided as a service to medicine by Lundbeck Ltd.
The Future Foundation leveraged existing knowledge about sleep, as well as carrying out new quantitative research, in order to better understand the causes, implications and methods of dealing with sleeping problems. The campaign and report were launched to coincide with World Sleep Day, Friday 20th March 2009.
Tiredness has become ‘socially acceptable’ in the UK
New report forecasts sleep problems will continue
Campaign launched to raise awareness of the need for quality sleep
People are more aware of the effects of lack of sleep than ever before, yet over a third take a stoical attitude and do nothing about it, a reflection of the increasing social acceptability of being tired, according to a new report ‘Sleep in the Information Age’ published today by the Future Foundation. The report was released with the launch of Sleep well, Live well, a new campaign aiming to raise awareness of insomnia and sleep problems.
The research uncovered the extent to which poor sleep leads to an inability to function well the next day: 16% of people in the UK reported experiencing non-restorative sleep, 45% of those reported being unable to concentrate, 52% feel angry or irritable and 48% of those working reported performing less well at work. Feeling depressed and unhappy due to insomnia was experienced by 49% of people.
Older people report sleep problems more frequently, and are much less likely to complain.1 The failure to take sleep problems seriously keeps up to 57% of people with frequent problems from consulting their GP for help.1
The author of the report, lead researcher at the Future Foundation, Addween Sacha said: “We were intrigued to find that it’s more acceptable to be tired than drunk and not perform well. This trend is likely to continue unless we raise awareness of the importance of addressing poor sleep.”
Commenting on the findings of the report, sleep expert Dr Adrian Williams from the London Sleep Centre said: “The report shows a worrying trend. Insomnia is a clinical condition that should be taken seriously, not ignored. It is more than a lifestyle nuisance as it has health, social and economic impacts. Our ability to function well the next day may be restricted, as insomnia can make us lethargic, grumpy and irritable. Long-term sleep problems potentially increase the risk of serious health problems such as depression and a lowered immune system. People who experience problems should visit their GP for advice.”
With an ageing population, sleep problems and the burden of bad sleep will get worse, however it’s not only an issue for older people. Young women top the poll of people experiencing sleep problems due to stress. Being young, free and single – and a British female – appears to be a recipe for stress-induced lack of sleep.1
The increased pace of life is having an impact on the nation’s leisure time and people are finding new ways to manage their ‘sleep debt’. Passive entertainment is now the most valued form of entertainment. People enjoy doing nothing or doing less; ‘winding down’ is now more socially acceptable. Research shows that the majority of leisure activities people in the UK now engage in are relaxing or passive.1
TV presenter Selina Scott developed problems sleeping during her time on Breakfast TV: “I experienced problems sleeping on and off for years from my time on breakfast TV. I know that lack of sleep, and poor quality sleep can have a big impact on everyday life, leaving you feeling tired and unfocussed. It’s important, however, to take sleep problems seriously and not be afraid to seek help. The Sleep well, Live well website is a great place to start to help you look forward to a good night’s sleep again.”
- 20% of people sleep less than 7 hours a night
- 41% of people who experience sleep problems say this occurs on a regular basis, this is particularly high for those over the age of 65
- Stress-induced sleep problems due to worry about financial matters likely to worsen due to the continuing economic environment
Causes of lost sleep
- 20% of people surveyed agreed that they had lost ‘more sleep than usual’ due to worry, this increases to nearly 25% amongst women and to over 25% in women in the younger age groups
- Financial concerns are now the leading cause of sleep problems (39%) rising to 50% in those aged 16-44
Impact of lost sleep
- 49% of people with poor sleep are left feeling depressed or unhappy
- Those driving home from working a night shift have a 40 times increased risk of a car accident, this compares to a 4 times increased risk for people who are drunk
- 30% of people with sleep problems say they take longer than normal to do anything and just under a third saying they cannot do everything they need to
- 15% said they found it hard to communicate or speak to others
- 45% found it hard to concentrate
- People with sleep problems are also more likely to complain of memory loss (11% more) and loss of libido (8% more) than normal sleepers
Personally I must have a sleep debt the size of a small continent as I tend to work late into the night. I guess this is a trait of all freelancers or anyone running their own business. There are never enough hours in the day.