It's official: Britons are the worst sleepers in the world

Emma Haslett
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Good night, sleepyhead: Almost four in 10 Britons don't get enough sleep (Source: Getty)

Feeling a touch bleary-eyed this morning? That's not surprising: it turns out Britons are the worst sleepers in the world.

A survey by Avia Health found almost four in 10 Britons don't get enough sleep, compared with 35 per cent of Irish people, 34 per cent of Canadians – and just seven per cent of Indians.

The survey found those aged between 35 and 44 were the worst insomniacs, with over half saying they don't get enough sleep. That's compared with just 27 per cent of over-65 year-olds.

Read more: You’re not dreaming: This fitness class is a 45-minute session of sleep

And it turns out lack of education is bliss: almost 48 per cent of those with a master's degree or PhD said they don't sleep well, compared with just over a third who finished their education after secondary school.

Meanwhile, one in three married people said they don't sleep well – although having children didn't seem to have much of an effect, with 47 per cent of adults with kids aged between 10 and 15 saying they don't sleep well, compared with 43 per cent of those with under-four year-olds and 41 per cent of those with kids between five and nine.

Read more: Lack of sleep is costing the UK £40bn each year

How to sleep better

  • Eat a balanced diet and exercise – but give yourself time to wind down, too. Don’t exercise just before bed-time.
  • Put gadgets to sleep too: Checking emails, phone messages and social media or watching TV can put you in "alert" mode, making it more difficult to get to sleep. Give yourself a break from gadgets before bed-time, and put your phone out of the bedroom or enable the do-not-disturb function at night.
  • Block out the light: Don’t expose yourself to bright lights before going to bed; it tricks your body into believing it’s time to be awake.
  • Set a schedule: The body adapts quickly to routine. Going to bed and rising at the same time helps to establish a stable sleep pattern.
  • Avoid heavy meals before bed: Don’t eat a heavy meal before retiring – but also don’t go to bed feeling hungry. Instead, eat a light snack.
  • Write down your worries: If you find yourself waking up at night thinking about things you have to do, keep a pad and pen close by to note them down so you can return to sleep untroubled.
  • Everything in moderation: Balance work and play. Stress and overwork can lead to poor sleeping habits so make sure you find ways to unwind.
  • Establish a sleep routine: Have a bedtime ritual. For instance, lie face up in bed with arms and legs slightly spread. Close your eyes. Imagine a black hole and sink into it. Or count sheep...

Read more: A year commuting and a year at the pub: How a Brit spends their lifetime

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