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

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 16/150

For more information, or to interview Sealy’s sleep spokesperson, Neil Robinson please contact the Sealy press office team, phone: 0113 320 4583 /

Sealy is the biggest bed brand in the world and is part of the Silentnight Group here in the UK. We have operated in this country under licence from Sealy Inc in North Carolina since 1974, which, in 2013, merged with Tempur in the USA to become Tempur-Sealy. The company is renowned for being a global leader in the field of sleep technology development.

Visit to see all the latest innovations and technology available in Sealy’s beds and mattresses or follow Sealy UK on Facebook (Sealy UK) and Twitter (@SealyUK) 

About Loughborough University 

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named the best in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey. Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2017 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, and University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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