The poll reveals around half the nation aren’t getting enough sleep, with a quarter getting five or less hours a night, compared to the optimal seven-eight. Staying up too late watching TV or films (19%), feeling stressed about finances (17%) and worrying about work (15%) are cited as the top things preventing people from getting more rest.
These factors aren’t just contributing to later bedtimes but are causing prolonged wake-ups throughout the night too. Just 9% enjoy regular undisturbed slumber, with 91% experiencing prolonged wake-ups regularly.
Instead of focusing on getting back to sleep, 41% of those who regularly wake in the night are turning to screens; with just over a fifth jumping straight onto emails and 15% doing online banking or doing online shopping (13%). Others are turning to active tasks with nearly one in ten (8%) tidying the house in the middle of the night.
“While it’s expected people will wake up momentarily in the night, when it is waking for an extended period of time it can significantly impact wellbeing and mood. Even if you get the same amount of sleep, one long slumber, compared with many shorter disturbed naps, has a more restorative effect on the body. Doing chores and switching on devices in the night causes our body to think it’s morning time so it can really play havoc with our sleep patterns.”Dr Guy Meadows
The survey has also lifted the cover on people’s lack of bedtime routines; nearly 59% regularly go to sleep and wake up at different times during both the week and weekends, and one fifth are passing out on the sofa frequently, making it more difficult to fall asleep properly in bed afterwards.
Dr Guy Meadows adds, “A consistent bedtime routine is fundamental to help form positive sleep habits, however this new research from Twinings shows that only a third (36%) go to bed and get up at the same time every day of the week. We should also try to avoid napping in the evening before going to bed, because it reduces the key sleep regulator, sleep drive. During the day we build up the brain chemical adenosine which helps us fall asleep, but a quick nap – even a 10-minute snooze – significantly lowers this.”
Sleep is one of the most important things – for both our physical and mental health and it’s clear that sleep deprivation is having a big impact on people’s lives. People’s jobs and relationships are suffering due to poor sleep habits, with 14% saying they’ve been late for work, nearly one in ten (9%) have called in sick and the same amount have received feedback about workplace performance after a bad night’s sleep. It is also affecting intimate relationships and sex lives for 13%, while 14% admit they’ve wanted to cancel social plans with their partner.
“As a leading wellbeing drinks brand with over 300 years of expertise, Twinings is passionate about understanding the wellbeing needs of our customers. Our team of herbalists and master blenders craft a range of great tasting benefit blends for different wellbeing occasions. We know from ongoing feedback and previous research that Sleep is impacting our customers’ wellbeing and so, with the help of renowned sleep expert Dr Guy Meadows, we have conducted the Sleep Census to understand more, and to raise awareness about the nation’s sleep habits in 2023. The findings reveal that over 25 million people in the UK are not getting adequate sleep and it is impacting their confidence, productivity, careers and relationships with others. Together, we have created a series of tips to help people tackle poor sleep habits to help them feel on form the next day.”Simon Grove, Brand Director – Twinings
To help the nation feel on form the next day, Dr Guy Meadows shares his top tips.
Keep your bedtime routine, routine
This should start by reducing mental and emotional stimulation and switching off digital devices at least an hour before bed. It helps to sleep in the same place, whenever possible, and avoid drifting off elsewhere before bedtime. As soon as you feel tired, start your bedtime routine to help avoid cat naps. Our brains are hardwired to like routine and if you repeat a few simple steps each night your brain will start to associate that with bedtime and help prepare your body better for sleep. It could be as simple as having a hot drink, listening to relaxing music or doing some meditative stretches or breathing.
Aim to keep a regular sleep cycle throughout the week
Irregular sleep patterns can cause havoc to the body and lead to poor quality sleep, low energy and social jet lag. 12% of us are not keeping an eye on the time, which is resulting in late bedtimes. Setting a ‘go to bed alarm’ each day can help to keep your sleep on track and aim to keep wake up times within 30 minutes every day to regulate patterns. For those that socialise at the weekend, aim to wake up no later than one hour past your normal weekday wake time. If you feel tired later in the day, take a 20-minute power nap between midday and 3pm.
Address your night-time worries
Stress is an unavoidable part of life and financial concerns are often inevitable. It helps to journal what’s on your mind and try to identify what you can and can’t control. If financial worries are keeping you awake, then try labelling your thoughts by giving them a nickname like “money”, and every time it pops into your head, quickly divert it to a mental filing system rather than getting trapped in a continuous loop of thinking about financial worries.
Embrace the five bedroom essentials
The Twinings Sleep Census shows us the home environment is stopping 14% of the UK from getting enough sleep. Five key things to improve this are:
Dim the lights
Darkening down helps to inform the body clock that the day is over and triggers the release of sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. Have a dark bedroom and wear an eye mask, fitting shutters or blackout blinds if you need to and turn off any unwanted standby lights.
Check the room temperature before going to sleep
Ideally it should be a cool 16-17 degrees. Make sure to switch off the central heating at night and use multiple layers rather than a single duvet to allow you to quickly adjust your temperature.
Comfort is essential for sleep quality
Choose a mattress and pillow combination that are the ideal firmness, size, and material for your comfort needs.
Cut the noise
Reduce noise by soundproofing your bedroom with lots of sound absorbing soft furnishings such as rugs, heavy curtains, and drapes on the walls. If you’re really struggling, block out unwanted noise with earplugs or white noise.
Improve your bedroom air quality
Grow naturally detoxifying plants such as aloe vera. Keep the window open or turn on a fan to improve ventilation. Maintain a stable humidity by avoiding drying clothes there.
Body scan meditation to fall asleep quicker
If you wake up in the night for a prolonged period, try to stay in bed and rest as it conserves energy, helps repair physically and consolidates memories. You can practice a simple meditation by accepting you are awake and mindfully focusing your attention onto where your body connects with the bed. Each time your mind wonders onto thoughts, gently come back to the bed.
Find more information about the Sleep Census and Dr Guy’s sleep tips here.
*Research of 2,000 UK adults (nationally representative) conducted in January 2023.