Half of us feel we are getting nowhere near enough.
ITV News at Ten presenter Tom Bradby has taken five weeks off to deal with chronic insomnia, a condition which affects one in three people.
And a recent study of 13 countries by Time magazine revealed that the UK is the most knackered of them all.
So why do we find it so difficult to catch 40 winks?
Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert for more than 34 years, has some answers.
IT seems that British people don’t see the benefits of sleep, which means there’s a lot of people in this country not feeling great.
They join gyms, eat healthily, take multivitamins or have a couple of cups of coffee and maybe a glass or bottle of wine at night to try to counteract it. Then they’ll have to go to the spa at the weekend and are desperate for holidays.
People seem to have accepted the idea that going through life not feeling your best is the right way to do it.
We’ve adopted a 24/7 lifestyle. Pretty much every town has a 24-hour supermarket, whereas Europe takes a stricter view.
At Volkswagen in Germany you’re not allowed to receive emails more than one hour before a shift or more than half an hour after one.
It means you leave work behind, whereas that’s not happening in the UK. I’m forever getting emails at 11pm with everybody copied in showing how dedicated people are to the job.
We’ve been seduced by technology, such as phones, that is designed to hook us in. It means many people are forgoing sleep. But the consequences are dire.
There is a strong link between poor sleep and appetite so you’ll eat more, crave sugary and fatty foods and eat less veg.
Then there are the effects it has on your relationship. A study showed that if one partner has a bad night’s sleep, the next day they will have more arguments and lack empathy.
A lack of sleep affects your reaction time, performance, memory, mood — and how people see you.
You will be thought of as miserable or argumentative by your colleagues. It will affect the way you look, too. People can pick up from facial cues that you’ve not slept well and consider that you’re sadder, just by looking at you.”
Here is Dr Stanley's guide on how to get a better night’s kip
You have to make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. That means dark, quiet, cool and comfortable.
When you consider eight per cent of people in the UK have spent less than £100 on their bed it’s silly.
You’re going to spend more time there than anywhere else in your life, so it’s worth investing in.
All sources of light should be shut out and heavy curtains put up. And the room needs to be cool.
There’s no magic way of doing this as we’re all individuals. Maybe it’s having a hot, milky drink, drawing, mindfulness — it doesn’t matter what it is but do it for 45 minutes before bed and it should have an impact on your ability to sleep.
We seem to have forgotten how to be nice to ourselves. You can’t brush your teeth, flop into bed then expect to fall asleep immediately.
Blue light from screens suppresses melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone, so it’s very important to avoid checking your phone at night.
You should put your phone away at least 45 minutes before bed.
Once you’ve put your handset down and it’s dark your body will release melatonin. Falling asleep is not like switching off a light, it takes time.
No specific foods aid sleep, but when you eat could have an impact.
For instance, a large fatty or spicy meal late at night will stop you from sleeping well.
Anything very calorific would be bad because you need to lose one degree of body temperature overnight in order to get a good night’s sleep.
If you’re burning off calories, that will heat you up, rather than cool you down.
This is a type of sound in which every octave carries the same power, or a perfectly consistent frequency.
Your primeval brain pays attentions to unfamiliar noises to protect you from danger.
Pink noise can be used to mask that. There are apps which will play pink noise to help you sleep.
Getting out of bed for a pee in the night can be very disruptive for your sleep, mainly because of the bright lights in the bathroom.
But installing a red light can help as it does not stimulate the cells in the back of your eye.
If you can make it to the bathroom in the dark try to do that so you can fall back to sleep more easily.
This is about “worry time” and putting the problems of your day to one side. If things are preying on your mind, a good idea can be to make a to-do list before you go to bed.
Writing things down means you’ll remember them the next day and they won’t trouble you overnight.
'I wake up 15 times a night'
INSOMNIAC Rae Radford, 55, has suffered from the condition for two years.
The social media consultant, from Kent, says: “You know that feeling of being rested after a good night’s sleep? I never have that. At around ten every night I’m so exhausted but I know sleep won’t come. I’m wide awake at 3.15am every night. From then until 7am, when I have to get up, I sleep for about 20 minutes and wake again. I wake about 15 times a night.
“I just lie there with all the normal worries that go through people’s minds. I try to pack my days with exercise so I sleep better but nothing works.
“I feel exhausted all the time and dizzy and light- headed. I can’t concentrate. I can barely read a sentence and I flit from one thing to another. It also affects my appetite. It makes me want to binge on sweet stuff so I have to be strict with myself. I feel cheated because all I want is a decent night’s sleep.
“I’m reluctant to take medication for it, which is why I haven’t been to my doctor. I’d rather take the homeopathic route first.”
If you have been awake for more than 20 minutes get up and do something else.
Try something relaxing and quiet then, when you feel sleepy again, go back to bed.
If you still do not fall asleep after another 20 minutes repeat it.
Perhaps stand up and read a boring book. If your body needs sleep it will take it, but you need to break the cycle as the more frustrated you get lying in bed, the less likely you are to fall asleep.
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