Workers in the UK lose between eight and nine days of work every year due to lack of sleep, a new survey has found.
Despite this, a significant amount of people (60% of those surveyed) do not seek help for their sleep problems.
The study of 2,500 people found that three quarters of participants in full-time employment suffer from “non-restorative sleep”, which occurs as a result of disrupted sleep patterns.
Those who reported their sleep patterns as “less than average” missed a grand total of 14.6 days of work each year, which is almost double that of an average employee.
The research was conducted by Big Health, the creators of sleep improvement app Sleepio.
It found that poor sleep negatively impacted on many parts of everyday life including concentration (46%), ability to complete work (38%) and staying awake during the day (27%).
In terms of their personal life, respondents said that energy levels (60%), mood (48%), relationships with other people (35%) and physical health (28%) were the areas most impacted by their poor sleep.
Shockingly, one in five respondents also reported they had fallen asleep while driving in the last year.
Colin Espie, co-founder of Big Health and professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford, said: “As we enter the winter months, it’s important that we recognize the widespread effects poor sleep has on our lives.
“Sleep affects us on various levels – mentally, emotionally and physically – so when we have had no or insufficient sleep, we feel the consequences.
“Physically we will feel lethargic and sleepy, mentally we become slowed down with poorer concentration and memory, and emotionally we may become irritable and rather down, with bursts of hyperactivity.”
For those who do struggle to drift off, there are a handful of ways in which you can overcome this.
Sleep hygiene focuses on developing a fixed routine by going to bed at a certain time, turning the light off and going straight to sleep.
There’s a particular issue with people getting into bed and watching TV or browsing Facebook on their phones. This, said Dr Simon Merritt, a consultant of sleep and respiratory medicine at Conquest Hospital, is detrimental to a person’s sleeping cycle.
“We are contactable all of the time, which ten years ago wasn’t possible,” he told HuffPost UK Lifestyle. “The combination of these devices and being contactable 24 hours a day, means you have no choice not to answer it. It also means that work doesn’t just sit within working hours – it leeches into your home life, too.”
He added: “Light from electronic devices will also wake you up more. Part of how we know it’s time to sleep is because the ambient light level drops.
“My advice is to remove devices and tech from the bedroom, as the room needs to be just for sleep. Your brain needs to associate the bed with just sleeping.”
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Thought blocking is another technique for those who struggle to sleep because they have a gazillion thoughts racing through their mind when their head hits the pillow.
Merritt suggested repeating the word “the” over and over in your mind to block out all of the other thoughts. “It prevents your brain from thinking about other things,” he added.
If all else fails then it might be time to reconsider your dietary choices in the hours leading to bedtime.
“Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea and other products containing caffeine within six hours of sleep time,” said Dr Nazim Nathani from the London Sleep Centre.
“Also, alcohol should not be used as a sleep aid. It distorts the normal sleep structure and causes arousals in the later part of sleep.”