Sleepless cities revealed as one in three adults suffer from insomnia

As many as 16 million UK adults* are suffering from sleepless nights as a third (31%) say they have insomnia.

  • Two thirds (67%) of UK adults suffer from disrupted sleep and nearly a quarter (23%) manage no more than five hours a night.
  • Half (48%) of UK adults admit they don’t get the right amount of sleep, with women more likely to agree (54%) than men (41%).
  • Cardiff (37%) and Sheffield (36%) worst affected by insomnia.
  • Improving sleep is biggest health ambition for a quarter (26%) of UK adults but half (51%) don’t take any measures to help them sleep.
  • More than one in ten take sleeping tablets (13%) or drink alcohol (13%) to aid sleep.

As many as 16 million UK adults* are suffering from sleepless nights as a third (31%) say they have insomnia, initial findings from Aviva’s upcoming Wellbeing Report reveal. Almost half (48%) agree they don’t get the right amount of sleep.

With the nation set to enjoy an extra hour in bed as the clocks go back for the winter this weekend, the findings suggest a longer and better quality night’s sleep may be sorely needed. On average, Aviva’s data suggests UK adults sleep for six hours per night; below the seven to nine hours sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation**. 

Nearly a quarter (23%) sleep for five hours or less each night. With women getting an hour’s less sleep on average than men (six hours vs. seven), they are also more likely to say they aren’t getting the right amount of sleep (54% vs. 41% of men) and currently be suffering from insomnia (36% vs. 26%). Sleep disruption is also common, with more than two thirds (67%) of UK adults agreeing their sleep is often disturbed, rising to nearly three quarters (74%) of women.

Cardiff is the UK city most likely to suffer from insomnia (37%), followed by Sheffield (36%), Glasgow (35%) and Newcastle (35%).

  Most likely to suffer from insomnia  Percentage
1 Cardiff 37%
2 Sheffield 36%
3 Glasgow 35%
4 Newcastle 35%
5 Norwich 34%
6 Belfast 33%
7 Bristol 33%
8 Manchester 33%
9 Leeds 33%
10 Nottingham 32%

Improving sleep is biggest health ambition for a quarter of UK adults Aviva’s data shows a quarter (26%) of UK adults list sleeping better as their biggest health ambition over the next 12 months. This remains largely unchanged since last year (25%)***, suggesting few have been successful in improving their sleeping patterns.

More than half (51%) don’t currently take any measures to help them sleep better. Among those who do, most prefer natural methods such as reading to relax (39%), not drinking caffeine after noon (32%) and avoiding screens near bedtime (18%). However, 13% take sleeping tablets (rising to 19% of adults aged 18-24) and 13% resort to drinking alcohol as a ‘night cap’ (highest among over-55s – 17%).

Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director, Aviva UK Health comments: “As well as suffering from general fatigue, people who regularly don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk of serious medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Sleep deprivation can be very distressing and often has a negative effect on mental health.

“There are lots of methods available to help aid sleep, such as avoiding electronic devices close to bedtime, controlling light and noise levels and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine. Alcohol can also lead to disrupted sleep and a ‘night cap’ to aid sleep can actually have the opposite effect. However, more serious sleep disorders such as insomnia may be rooted in other issues, such as stress and mental health concerns, and would benefit from medical attention. Your local GP can advise on the most suitable course of treatment. The most important thing is to take persistent trouble sleeping seriously and not to suffer in silence.” 


Media Enquiries:  

Instinctif Partners: Fran Hart: 020 7866 2034 or 

Aviva Press Office:  Sarah Poulter | 01904 452828 |

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


* ONS mid-2016 population estimates. There are 51,767,543 UK adults aged 18 and above in the UK.

** National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Duration Recommendations 

*** Aviva Health Check UK report, autumn 2016   Based on a survey of 2,235 nationally representative UK adults carried out by Censuswide in September 2017.

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