HEALTHY LIVING
04/23/2014 11:08 am ET Updated Apr 23, 2014

Nearly 60 Percent Of Brits Sleep Deprived, Online Survey Says

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Nearly six in 10 British adults don't get enough sleep, according to a new online survey.

The research, conducted by Richard Wiseman, professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, in conjunction with his latest book, Night School, found that 59 percent of Brits get seven hours or less sleep every night.

"This is a huge rise, and the results are extremely worrying because getting less than seven hours sleep a night is below the recommended guidelines, and is associated with a range of problems, including an increased risk of weight gain, heart attacks, diabetes and cancer," Wiseman said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post. Sleep deprivation is up about 20 percent from a similar survey conducted last year, he told the BBC.

One potential cause of the increase in sleepless nights? Smartphones. The survey also found that 78 percent of British adults use computers, smartphones or tablets in the two hours leading up to bedtime. The artificial light produced by such devices is a known sleep-disruptor, likely because the particular blue wavelength of light emitted can disrupt natural melatonin production. "It's important to avoid them before bedtime," Wiseman said of electronic devices.

While it's tempting to excuse our device-checking behavior before bedtime, don't think you're immune, Wiseman told the BBC. "In terms of people going, 'Oh, I'm all right,' well, two-thirds of the population are not all right, they're getting less than seven hours sleep and that's disastrous," he said. "I think we're facing a real problem here."

Your best bet? Setting an electronic curfew a couple of hours before bed, and spending that wind-down time doing something relaxing, sans devices.

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