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The world’s largest-ever online ‘sleep census’ reveals a sleep-deprived planet

Bed manufacturer Sealy UK, together with Loughborough University’s Clinical Sleep Research Unit (CSRU), has conducted the world’s largest and most comprehensive online sleep study ever, revealing a sleep deprived planet, and a female UK ‘sleep debt’ of 10 days a year.

- 77% of Brits fail to wake up refreshed and well-rested each morning
- British women lose 10 days a year due to ‘sleep debt’, while China and Korea suffer most globally
- The majority of Brits recognise their lives would be improved if they got better quality sleep
- China is the most ‘sleep medicated’ country in the world

Sealy’s Worldwide Sleep Census polled more than 15,000 respondents across the globe, with participating countries including China, South Korea, Australia, South Africa and the UK, and explored the slumber habits of the planet, for the first time, contrasting the sleep patterns of the Eastern and Western worlds.

Sleep debt – British women lose 10 days sleep each year

The Census reveals a worldwide sleep debt; the perceived amount of sleep people need to effectively function mentally and emotionally the next day during the normal working week, minus the actual sleep they get each night.

While the sleep debt in the UK is by no means the worst globally, it is still significant, with men on average losing 28 minutes a night, with women faring worse, losing an average of 56 minutes each night. This equates to a staggering 5 days a year in lost sleep for men, and 10 days a year for women.

The largest working week sleep debt in the world emerged in South Korea, with men losing an average of 1 hour 42 minuteseach night (equating to 18 and a half days each year) while women lose an average of 1 hour 23 minutes a night (equating to 15 days lost sleep each year).

This could be causing more than just tiredness in the morning; 70% of UK respondents admitted they could function better at work if they slept better, while 76% recognised that their personal life would benefit from better quality sleep.

Sleep quality

The Worldwide Sleep Census also explored our sleep quality, with a shocking 77% of Brits failing to wake up each morning feeling refreshed and well-rested, while just 2% say this happens ‘every day’. And, across the country, the worst ‘morning’ people emerged as those living in Sheffield (85% fail to wake up refreshed and rested) followed by Cardiff (82%) and Edinburgh (81%).

This puts the UK bottom in the world when it comes to the global ‘wake up league’ with those in China most likely to ‘leap’ out of bed in the morning, followed by Australia and South Korea. 

Conversely, those in the UK most likely to ‘seize the day’ and wake up feeling rested and refreshed were in Bristol (31% said this happened most days), Brighton (30%) and Nottingham (29%).

When asked what factors are keeping us awake at night, the need to use the bathroom (55%), an old, uncomfortable bed (46%) and partner snoring (42%) emerged top. Meanwhile, 23% claimed they were being kept awake by the partner using a mobile phone or tablet in the bedroom.  

Insomnia and sleep medication

The Census revealed some surprising trends when it came to sleep medication, with China emerging as the most ‘sleep-medicated’ country, with 1-in-5 adults consuming prescription sleeping tablets.  South Korea is the least sleep medicated – with fewer than 1-in-30 people taking prescription sleep medication.

“The Census is the largest and most in-depth study of its kind ever undertaken in the world, and forms an important part of our ongoing commitment to research and innovation in the sleep arena,” says Sealy’s spokesperson, Neil Robinson.  

“We’re very excited to have conducted the Census in association with Loughborough University’s Clinical Sleep Research Unit and our partners across the globe. Sleep is an issue that all of us can identify with, and as such, the study provides invaluable insights into sleep which will inform both our product development and the work of the Clinical Sleep Research Unit.”

Professor Kevin Morgan, director of Loughborough University’s Clinical Sleep Research Unit, says: “Our mission here at the CSRU is to improve the understanding of evidence-based management of insomnia and chronic sleep disturbance through applied research, knowledge transfer and professional training. The Sealy Sleep Census fits perfectly within this.

“We’re pleased to be involved with the study, which gives us valuable insight not only into the sleeping habits of people in the UK, but of the whole world - and that’s what’s so exciting about the findings. In this initial analysis, we are already seeing some significant trends including a global ‘sleep debt’ as people across the globe struggle to get their required hours each night.

“Inadequate sleep can impact on a person’s mood, cognitive performance and ability to remain alert and focused on tasks. Chronically inadequate sleep can also lead to more serious health issues including obesity, diabetes and depression.”

The full Sealy World Sleep Census can be found online at www.sleep-census.com.

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