Sleep Deprivation

If You Aren’t Sleeping Enough, You Could be Putting Your Health at Risk

Cardiff is the UK city most likely to suffer from insomnia (37%), followed by Sheffield (36%), Glasgow (35%) and Newcastle (35%). It’s also no coincidence that both Cardiff and Sheffield are two of the most stressed cities in the UK according to research from Axa PPP Healthcare

Throughout history, most people slept about 10 hours a night—and then in 1879, Thomas Edison invented the electric light.

Suddenly, activity was no longer limited to the day’s span of natural light, and our sleeping habits started to change.

The average Briton gets just six hours and 19 minutes sleep a night, people who sleep fewer than six hours a night are more likely to die early, researchers found in a study claim ‘unequivocal evidence’ of a link between sleep deprivation and premature death.

Busy lives, hectic work schedules and stress are the primary reasons for not getting a full eight hours rest.

According to sleep expert and author James B. Maas, PhD, sleep is not a luxury but a necessity. There are many studies that have examined the health benefits of sleep.

Getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night is beneficial. Any more or less can increase your risk for serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even death. Getting enough quality sleep is also key to a healthy lifestyle.

A poll conducted by Aviva of 2,000 UK adults found the nation get their recommended eight hours just two nights a week, with 38 per cent stating they never achieve that amount.

As a result, at least 50 percent of the adult population is chronically sleep deprived. And this devastating trend is mirrored throughout the industrialised world.

  • Two thirds (67%) of UK adults suffer from disrupted sleep and a quarter (23%) manage no more than five hours a night.
  • Half (48%) of UK adults admit they don’t get the right amount of sleep, with women more likely to agree (54%) than men (41%).
  • Cardiff (37%) and Sheffield (36%) worst affected by insomnia.
  • Improving sleep is biggest health ambition for a quarter (26%) of UK adults but half (51%) don’t take any measures to help them sleep.
  • More than one in ten take sleeping tablets (13%) or drink alcohol (13%) to aid sleep.

Recent studies of the neurological, chemical and electrical activity of the sleeping brain show that even minimal sleep loss can have profound detrimental effects on mood, cognition, performance, productivity, communication skills, accident rates, and general health, including the gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular functioning and our immune systems.

Professor Francesco Cappuccio, leader of the Sleep, Health and Society Programme at the University of Warwick and Consultant Physician at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said: “Whilst short sleep may represent a cause of ill-health, long sleep is believed to represent more an indicator of ill-health.

“Modern society has seen a gradual reduction in the average amount of sleep people take, and this pattern is more common among full-time workers, suggesting that it may be due to societal pressures for longer working hours and more shift-work. On the other hand, the deterioration of our health status is often accompanied by an extension of our sleeping time.

“Consistently sleeping six to eight hours per night may be optimal for health. The duration of sleep should be regarded as an additional behavioural risk factor, or risk marker, influenced by the environment and possibly amenable to change through both education and counselling as well as through measures of public health aimed at favourable modifications of the physical and working environments.”

As many as 16 million UK adults are suffering from sleepless nights as a third (31%) say they have insomnia, initial findings from Aviva’s Wellbeing Report reveal. Almost half (48%) agree they don’t get the right amount of sleep.

There are lots of methods available to help aid sleep, such as avoiding electronic devices close to bedtime, controlling light and noise levels and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine. Alcohol can also lead to disrupted sleep and a ‘night cap’ to aid sleep can actually have the opposite effect.

Integrative therapy can help, Mike Lawrence will create a session designed to address your problem, reduces pain, anxiety and increases relaxation, which can help restore your sleep pattern.

However, more serious sleep disorders such as insomnia may be rooted in other issues, such as stress and mental health concerns, and would benefit from medical attention. Your local GP can advise on the most suitable course of treatment. The most important thing is to take persistent trouble sleeping seriously and not to suffer in silence.