05/31/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The British Are Sleepless, Too

Americans aren't the only ones complaining of poor sleep, no sleep, and abysmal bed partners. News just hit that the majority of Britons are losing ground on the war against insomnia, too. When more than 3,000 adults were quizzed about their sleeping habits in a survey commissioned by the shopping channel QVC, the results were, well, eye-opening. 

A growing trend has the average English person banking only six hours a night. Researchers found that in Aberdeen, home to the UK's most sleep-deprived people, the typical resident has just five hours and 23 minutes a night. And in Norwich, which is the UK's sleepiest city, residents spend only six hours and 38 minutes in bed. Nearly two thirds (64%) said lack of sleep was to blame when they felt irritable, while 56% said it left them unable to concentrate, and 37% said it made them crave sugary fatty foods.

Nearly a third of those questioned (29%) suffer from insomnia while 87% feel tired for most of the week, and 17% doze off at work. A whopping nine out of ten report being tired all day. Where's Morpheus, the god of sleep and dreams, when you need him?

So we're not alone. The chief culprits of all this sleeplessness are also familiar:

  • Stress over money.
  • A snoring bed partner.
  • Relationship troubles.
  • Family troubles.

What are the solutions for both our English friends and ourselves? These ideas should also sound familiar:

  • Learn how to make the going-to-bed process soporific and effortless. You brush your teeth to keep your oral health, so why wouldn't you do the same for your sleep health with sleep hygiene?
  • Don't accept snoring as a fact of life. Talk to your bed partner about getting checked for sleep apnea. Talk to your doctor about options. For many, just a little weight loss can do the trick of silencing the human buzz saw.
  • Make getting a full night's sleep of at least 7 hours a priority.
  • When you find yourself tired in the day, try taking a nap and don't feel guilty about it!
  • Find better ways to cope with stress and communicate with the people in your life who bring tension to your relationships and family life.

I know, all easier said than done. Shouldering the stress of modern life is tough. We are all overscheduled and overwhelmed with things to do. There is no pill to take for solving money and relationship troubles quickly. And sleep is usually last on everyone's list. But focusing on sleep has its hidden rewards that can, in fact, go as far as to help you cope better with life in general and ease tensions across the board. Even in your relationships. After all, who likes a grump?

Clearly, sleeplessness is not just an American sport. It's global. The team who gets a good night's sleep, however, will always be the winner.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD

The Sleep Doctor™

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This post on sleep and sleep hygiene is also available at Dr. Breus's official blog, The Insomnia Blog: by Sleep Doctor Michael Breus, Ph.D.