Sleep deprivation is a serious problem for many of us, and a new study has revealed just how many women are affected… and why.
According to recent government guidelines, the healthiest amount of sleep that we should get per night is nine hours. And yet, sleep deprivation continues to be a problem for a huge number of us. In fact, nearly 16 million adults suffer with insomnia.
Now, a new survey has examined women’s sleeping patterns – and it’s not looking good.
The study of 2,000 UK professional women found that 32.7% of women get just 6.5 hours of sleep a night. That’s nearly a third of us who are seriously deprived of sleep. It found that only 5.4% of women are getting 8.5 hours of sleep per night, which is still half an hour less than the recommended amount.
The results, which were collated by CV Library, also showed that 66.9% of women wake up at 6 am every day. And one in 10 (11.8%) of women wake up as early as 4:30 am. This could help to explain why we’re not getting in enough snooze hours. If we need to rise early, we should get to bed earlier too – but this is often not the case.
Speaking about the research, nutritionist and lifestyle expert Rob Hobson told Stylist: “The research is really interesting and shows that women are getting even less sleep that the average reported by the Royal Society of Public Health, which stated seven hours on average.
“We know from research just how bad this can be on our health longterm. There are many reasons why people cannot sleep with the first and foremost probably being anxiety and stress. It’s interesting that the greatest percentage of activities people get up to do is about reaching for their phone or opening their laptop.
“This kind of behaviour is also likely to be done by these women before they go to bed and this can be a key reason why people are unable to sleep. Using electrical equipment can expose you to excess blue light which can effect melatonin production and also set you mind whirring.”
Just last month, we reported on further research that examined just how dangerous sleep deprivation can be.
According to one of the biggest sleep studies to date, conducted by Michigan State University’s Sleep and Learning Lab, sleep deprivation doubles the chance of placekeeping errors – your ability to complete a series of steps without losing your place, despite multiple interruptions. It also found that deprivation has a big effect on our lapses in attention.
“Sleep-deprived individuals need to exercise caution in absolutely everything that they do, and simply can’t trust that they won’t make costly errors. Oftentimes - like when behind the wheel of a car - these errors can have tragic consequences,” researcher and study co-author Kimberley Fenn said.
So, what exactly are we getting up so early for? The research also reported on the things that we do in those first few hours of the day. And it might not surprise you to learn that checking emails is the most common thing that people do after waking up.
Here’s what else it found:
1. Catching up on emails (36.7%)
2. Scheduling the day ahead (28.7%)
3. Checking social media (26.9%)
4. Spending time with loved ones (24.3%)
5. Walking the dog (13.6%)
6. Networking over coffee (10.4%)
7. Working out (9.8%)
8. Texting their friends (8.6%)
9. Meditating (7.1%)
10. Texting their partner (7.1%)
We all know that better sleep means better health. So what can we do to make sure we’re getting a good night’s sleep?
The NHS website advises:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – only go to bed when you feel tired.
- Relax at least 1 hour before bed – for example, take a bath or read a book.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet – use thick curtains, blinds, an eye mask or ear plugs.
- Exercise regularly during the day.
- Make sure your mattress, pillows and covers are comfortable.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol, tea or coffee at least 6 hours before going to bed.
- Do not eat a big meal late at night.
- Do not exercise at least 4 hours before bed.
- Do not watch television or use devices right before going to bed – the bright light makes you more awake.
- Do not nap during the day.
- Do not sleep in after a bad night’s sleep – stick to your regular sleeping hours instead.