Breaking news: How much sleep should you be clocking up?

June 12, 2012 by
Health   No Comments Yet

When it comes to getting enough sleep, how do you compare to your fellow Britons? If you’re having around seven hours 21 minutes a night, then you’re bang on the UK average, according to new research revealed today, at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival.

A survey of 5,463 people in the UK also found that, far from jumping out of bed when the alarm clock goes off, the average Briton spends an extra 20 minutes in bed before getting up. Only 12.5 per cent of us set an alarm on days off, although 72.6 per cent of people use an alarm clock to wake up on work days, with two in 10 relying instead on their natural body clocks. The research into the nation’s sleeping habits, led by Professor Russell Foster, from the University of Oxford, and Professor Dr Till Roenneberg from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, is part of a wider international survey comparing the quantity and quality of sleep in the UK and Germany.

Professor Roenneberg compared the British results to 5,463 German survey respondents taken at random from a larger database of 70,000, and discovered that Britons sleep an average of 8.5 minutes longer than their counterparts each night.

People in the UK also stay in bed five minutes longer than Germans after the alarm has gone off, the survey found.

Commenting on the results, Professor Roennebery found that the main difference between UK and German sleeping habits was the “social jet lag”, the discrepancy between ‘what our body clock wants us to do and what our social clock wants us to do’.

‘It is much smaller for Britons, by more than 30 minutes, which means that the working day starting at 8.50am (compared to the German work day starting at 8.20am on average) better suits the sleep need of the UK population,’ he said.

On the whole, Professor Foster, who is also chairman of The Times Cheltenham Science Festival, said that both Britons and Germans had very similar sleeping habits.

The results appear to tally with findings in the UK over the past 40 years, which show that adults get an average of seven hours 15 minutes of sleep a night, according to the sleep research centre at Loughborough University.

The sleep centre’s researchers ‘contest’ claims that we should be getting eight to nine hours’ sleep, saying that ‘mortality seems to be lowest in those sleeping around seven hours a night’.

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