UK: Nation of sleepless nights - one in four UK adults want a better night’s sleep

The UK is home to more self-confessed poor sleepers than many other countries, a new international comparison from Aviva reveals. And Aviva’s latest Health Check UK report finds that getting enough sleep has become one of the UK’s top health ambitions.

  • Sleeping better is the fastest growing health ambition among UK adults 
  • International comparison reveals UK adults are the most likely to say they are not getting enough sleep (37%)
  • More than two in five (44%) UK adults are too tired to exercise
  • Use of sleep monitoring technology almost doubles annually
  • Only half (51%) of parents say they make sure their children sleep enough
  • Going to bed later is used as a reward by half of parents (49%)
  • More families plan to take action to sleep better in the year ahead, than plan to reduce sugar intake or eat more healthily

View Aviva Health Check UK report.

Aviva’s international research compares whether people get enough sleep in 13 countries across Europe, North America and Asia1 and indicates that UK adults rank among the worst sleepers. Over a third (37%) of adults in the UK say they do not get the right amount of sleep, the highest proportion of any of the countries surveyed.

Separately, Aviva’s Health Check UK report finds that a quarter of UK adults (25%) list getting a better night’s sleep as a health ambition. This is now the second most common health ambition, beaten only by the desire to lose weight or improve BMI score (34%).

As the hundredth anniversary of turning the clocks back this weekend gives the UK an extra hour in bed, Aviva’s research suggests that getting more sleep may just be what the nation needs.

Aviva international research: UK most likely to say they are not getting the right amount of sleep     





























 *Percentages represent the proportion most likely to feel they do not get the right amount of sleep.

Aviva Health Check UK report: family health priorities

Aviva’s latest Health Check UK research finds that three in ten (29%) families plan to take action to improve their sleep over the next 12 months, compared to just 20% who did this in the past year. Getting better sleep has seen the biggest shift in family health priorities across any of the actions suggested by Aviva’s research, including doing more exercise and losing weight (both up by eight percentage points).

In fact, more families plan to take action to sleep better (29%) in the year ahead than plan to reduce sugar intake (22%) or eat more healthily (26%).  Only half (51%) of parents say they ensure their children get the right amount of sleep.

Table 1: Aviva Health Check UK - top healthy actions taken by families in the last year and main priorities for the year ahead


Done this in the past year

Plan to do this in the year ahead

Doing more exercise / getting more active



Losing weight



Better sleep



More relaxation / free time



Healthier eating and improved diet



Reduced sugar intake



Children’s sleep patterns are a key factor that shape parents’ happiness with their family’s overall health. In households that are happy with their family’s health, only 15% of parents have concerns over the amount of sleep their children get. In households that are unhappy with family health, twice as many parents (34%) have concerns over the amount of sleep their children get. Nevertheless, half of parents (49%) admit to using going to bed later as a reward or motivation for their children.

Tiredness and darker nights affect our desire to exercise

Aviva’s Health Check UK report also shows that not getting enough sleep impacts on our ability to exercise – with 44% of UK adults saying they are generally too tired to exercise. Women are more affected than men with 52% of females feeling they are too tired to exercise, compared to 35% of males.

And the shorter days following the clocks turning back makes exercise far less appealing, with 57% of women and 48% of men saying they find it more difficult to exercise in the darker months. Younger age groups are particularly affected: 61% of 18-24s agree, compared to 45% of over 55s. 

Harnessing technology to get a better night’s sleep

While still relatively low, the overall proportion of UK adults using sleep monitors has nearly doubled in past year (from 4% to 7%). Younger age groups are far more likely to already be tracking their sleep, with 16% of 25-34s using a sleep monitor. And overall, 49% of UK adults would consider using a sleep monitor in the future.

Table 2: Aviva Health Check UK: usage of sleep monitors among different age groups








List sleeping better as a health ambition







Use a sleep monitor







Might use sleep monitor in future







Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director for Aviva UK Health comments:

“If it feels like you’re always running on empty, you’re not alone: our research shows that as a nation we’re some of the worst sleepers in the world, with two in five of us feeling we are not getting the right amount of sleep. It’s therefore no surprise that so many aspire to getting their full forty winks. 

“The importance of getting a decent night’s sleep should never be underestimated. Sleep plays an important role in mental and physical health, with your body using this time to renew and repair. However, it’s very easy to make a habit of going to bed too late, or not being able to switch off when you do eventually turn in for the night.

“Sometimes a few lifestyle changes are all that’s needed to boost your sleep levels, such as establishing a routine, eating dinner earlier in the night or avoiding TV and mobile phone screens before bed. Sleep trackers are also a great way of monitoring your rest patterns. However, if stress, anxiety or other mental health issues are what’s keeping you awake, getting help and support – including seeking advice from your GP – is recommended. Tackling sleepless nights is a crucial step to improving overall health and wellbeing.” 

For more advice on keeping healthy, read our full report and additional articles on how to sleep better visit our Home of Health page on

- Ends –

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:  

Instinctif Partners: Rachel Morrod (0207 427 1431 / 07815 541 791) or Angeli Everitt (0207 427 1446 / 07974 781 725) or

Aviva Press Office: Jess Geoghegan on 01904 684128 or

Monique Crockett on 01904 684128 or

Aviva’s spokesperson, Dr Doug Wright, is available for comment/interview.


The Aviva Consumer Attitudes Survey (international research):

1 The Aviva Consumer Attitudes survey conducted by Ipsos MORI assesses and tracks consumer attitudes and provides a high level assessment of the consumer issues in each country. 1,000 interviews with adults aged 18 and over were conducted using online panels in each country surveyed (except China, where 750 interviews were conducted using online panels and 766 were conducted in face-to-face interviews) in March–April 2016. Countries surveyed include: China, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Canada, USA, Spain, France, Ireland, Poland, UK, Turkey and Italy. Data are weighted to the known profile of the population in each country.

Aviva’s Health Check UK report research:

All percentages and figures shown in this report (unless otherwise cited) come from an online survey conducted by ICM research for Aviva UK Health. The survey was carried out in August 2016.

Respondents were invited from ICM’s online panel and 1,996 interviews were conducted amongst a nationally representative sample of the UK adult population. Additional interviews were conducted to achieve a robust sample of 1500 parents with children under 18.

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