Hectic Work Week Makes Sleep In Short Supply

Sep 13, 2004 11:43 AM EDT

A recent British survey has found that nearly 75% of the UK is getting less sleep than five years ago.

The research, commissioned by hospitality chain Travel Inn, found 57% of British citizens felt that lack of sleep affects their performance at least once a week.

British work longest week in Europe

Figures show UK full-time employees work longer than in other European countries. A typical British working week is the highest in the European Union—43.3 hours compared with an average of 39.3 hours across the rest of the Union.

Sleep deprivation has led to 30% of workers falling asleep on public transport at one time or another, and 13% at business meetings. Among full-time employees, 25% of British men and 10% of women usually work more than 48 hours a week. The survey found that over half (54%) have fallen asleep in an inappropriate place as a result of lack of sleep. For instance, 29% of people have fallen asleep during a film or a play—and 5% of those surveyed said they had fallen asleep while driving.

Lost sleep can harm body

Experts have commented that people are working longer, but are still trying to maintain decent social lives—what gets reduced is sleep.

In another recent study, researchers from Pennsylvania State University found that missing sleep can affect hormone levels and generate harmful chemicals in the body. They suggested that women may live longer on average than men because they are better sleepers.

Travel Inn is launching a campaign to encourage people to have an extra hour of sleep every night for a week to find out if it improves their performance and general happiness.


1. bbc.co.uk/health