Survey results for

July/September: Sleep Survey 2017

Sleep is vital to our health and wellbeing. A bad night's sleep can affect your concentration and regular bouts of interrupted sleep can make you feel run down and more susceptible to getting ill.

In a report published by the Mental Health Foundation, it was found that 30% of the UK's population are severely sleep deprived, putting them more at risk of mental health and relationship issues.

talkhealth are in the midst of developing a dedicated patient support programme to offer support and advice to those who struggle with sleep. To enable us to better understand what support and help is truly needed, we launched our sleep survey to gain further insights into our members experience with sleep e.g. how much sleep you get on a daily basis, your quality of sleep, bed time routine, and your hints and tips for a better night's sleep. 1,410 participants completed the survey in full. The vast majority of those that participated in the survey were female (92%) and between the ages of 41 and 50 (25%).

Sleep day to day

Of all those who completed the survey in full, close to half stated that the quality of their sleep was poor (44%), with 20% describing their sleep as very poor. Most the participated in the survey struggled with disturbed sleep every day (45%). Close to a third found themselves waking up twice during a single night, a quarter woke up 3 times each evening, and as many as 22% were waking up four or more times during one night. Very few participants had managed to get a full 7-9 hours’ sleep in the space of a week, with 46% stating that they hadn’t managed to sleep that long any day of the week. Most managed to get around 4-5 hours’ sleep each night, a considerable amount less than the recommended 7-9 hours.

Bedtime habits

Interestingly, the vast majority of participants went to bed at a reasonable time, between 10pm - 11pm (54%). However, when asked whether they had a set bedtime routine, half stated that they didn’t have a routine and went to bed at varying times. A disrupted bedtime routine can consequently lead to disrupted sleep patterns as the brain is not being given the structure it needs to know when to switch off.

The sleep related problems most struggled with were Waking up repeatedly during the night (68%), Difficulty falling asleep (63%), Feeling lethargic and unrested (63%), Waking up too early and not able to fall back to sleep (52%) and Snoring (23%). Waking up to go to the bathroom can cause many to experience disrupted sleep numerous times in the night. Close to half found themselves lying in bed for a long period of time after going to the bathroom struggling to fall back asleep.

Sleep issues

Anxiety and the menopause were the two conditions which were seen to be the most problematic in leading to disrupted sleep, however around 40% of participants stated that they weren’t living with any conditions that they felt could be causing their poor sleep pattern. Stress (58%) was unsurprisingly the most common triggers in leading to a troubled nights sleep. Sadly the vast majority of those that had taken part in the survey had been living with sleep issues for over 11 years.

Remedies, treatments and health professional advice

Reading before bed and avoiding caffeine were the most popular remedies people adopted to encourage a better night’s sleep. Despite the high number of those stating that they struggled with sleep most nights, the majority had not been to see their doctor to discuss the issue. Those that had not been to see a doctor stated why they hadn’t sought help. Over half didn’t think their sleep issues were bad enough to warrant a doctor’s appointment, with over a third stating that they didn’t think it would benefit them in any way. The 37% that had been to see their doctor to discuss their sleep issues were asked to rate the advice they were given. Around 40% rated the advice they received as okay, with around a third rating the advice as poor.

Those that had pursued professional advice were asked to consider the treatment recommended by their doctor or specialist. Close to 60% had been prescribed sleeping pills in the past, however most that had been prescribed sleeping pills rarely took them and found them relatively easy to stop taking.

Lifestyle

With stress being a very well-known trigger for a poor night’s sleep, the next set of questions aimed to establish how stressful day to day life was for our survey participants. When asked, “Day to day, how stressful is your home life?” most answered with somewhat stressful, with around a quarter answering with quite stressful. When asked about the stresses of work life, again most answered with either somewhat stressful or quite stressful. Those that were in paid work were asked to consider what impact their work life has on their ability to sleep well; with close to half stating that it had some impact. Very few participants had ever had to take time off work due to their sleep issues, however over 60% felt that their ability to perform well at work had definitely been hindered due to their tiredness.

Psychological and physical impact of sleep issues

It is apparent that poor sleep can have a negative impact on mood. When asked to rate from 1 to 5 how often their poor sleep affects their mood (with 1 being every day to 5 my mood never suffers because of sleep), most participants answered with 3 (35%), with 21% stating that it affected their mood every single day. Answers were relatively the same when asked whether personal relationships had been affected due to poor sleep, with most saying their relationships had been marginally strained or very strained due to their lack of sleep. It is clear that sleep is crucial in maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle both at home, and in the workplace.

Support for sleep issues

When asked, “If you do look for hints and tips on how to improve your sleep, where do you go?” google, NHS choices, Friends and family and talkhealth were where most participants went to get advice on how to improve their sleep. It is clear that those who do look for support and advice online are keen to find new hints and tips, to try new sleep aid samples and to take part in trials and surveys to discuss their poor sleep experiences in the hope of finding a new remedy.

Very many of those who responded to the survey said they would like to be contacted regarding the results of this survey. We would like to thank everyone who participated in this survey.

If you're interested in a detailed analysis of the results for these surveys please contact us.