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Trouble sleeping? Get your own sleep score

By
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks
tired man

11th June 2014 – Thousands of Britons are being urged to log their sleep habits to help scientists discover whether we are getting enough sleep as a nation.

The Great British Sleep Survey is launched today to check whether we are managing enough shut-eye to stay healthy in the face of out hectic 24/7 world.

"Day-to-day our sleep affects everything from our ability to concentrate and productivity to our mood and how we interact with other people," says lead researcher Professor Colin Espie.

Mental and physical health

Professor Espie, who is professor of Sleep Medicine at the University of Oxford, warns that we dismiss the importance of sleep at our peril. "It affects everything from our day-to-day functioning to our long-term physical and mental health," he tells BootsWebMD. "We need to understand just how we're sleeping as a nation so we can start helping people sleep better and so lead healthier lives."

colin_espie.jpg

The survey has been developed by researchers at the University of Oxford in collaboration with Sleepio – the organisation behind an online sleep improvement programme.

The nation's sleep health is defined as:

  • 'Low': A Sleep Score of below 5.0
  • 'Medium'/'Average': Between 5.1 and 7.5
  • 'High': 7.6 and above

The last Sleep Survey took place in 2012 and put the country's 'Sleep Score' at 5.1 – barely scraping into the 'Average' category.

Women averaged a slightly lower score then men (5.0 to 5.5).

There were regional differences too, with Scotland recording the highest sleep score (5.5) and Northern Ireland the lowest (4.9).

Pessimistic

Professor Espie is pessimistic that the picture will have improved. "My guess is that we're still not sleeping well as a nation," he says "We've updated the questions based on the latest scientific research into sleep and they'll give us a really full picture of how we're sleeping."

Sleep problems affect 1 in 3 of us at any one time, and about 10% of the population on a chronic basis. A poor night's sleep can affect our day-to-day life as well as our long-term mental and physical health.

Poor sleep can negatively affect our productivity and mood, as well as reduce our ability to concentrate and our energy levels.

In the long-term, poor sleep has been found to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, obesity and anxiety and depression.

Quality as well as quantity

"It's not just about the quantity of sleep we get but also the quality," Professor Espie says. "This can be affected by a range of things from physical factors such as the temperature in your bedroom to mental factors such as stress at work that sets your mind racing as soon as you hit the pillow."

The last sleep survey attracted over 21,000 participants. This year Professor Espie is hoping for an even bigger response. "The more people who take part, the clearer picture we have of the nation's sleep," he says.

Plus there is the chance for volunteers to get a clearer picture of their own sleep health. "The Great British Sleep Survey gives you your own personal Sleep Score based on your schedule, your health, your thoughts and emotions," he tells us.

Published on June 11, 2014

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