HR Grapevine - Wellbeing - The most sleep deprived cities and professions

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Getting an undisturbed nights sleep is important for employees. Not only does it boost concentration and productivity, it is likely to improve their mood whilst at work too and this is crucial for maintaining relationships with colleagues.

Despite the importance of getting enough sleep, new research has revealed that the majority of Brits struggle to get above six hours per night.

The recommended amount of sleep per night for the average adult is between seven and nine hours. However, a study conducted by The Cotswold Company has shown that we are a nation of restless people, with some professions significantly reducing the amount of sleep that a person can get per night.

In addition to this, the study found that location can also have an impact people's sleeping patterns, with some UK cities having below half of the recommended sleep time for an average adult.Professions

This study found that certain jobs can cost employees precious hours every night. The table below shows the top professions for uninterrupted sleep in the UK:

Job SectorAvg. hours of uninterrupted sleep
Food prep/serving occupations4hrs 42min
Office and Admin Staff4hrs 37min
Protective Service Occupations (Police, Firefighters, Security)4hrs 30min
Healthcare practitioners and Tech3hrs 52min
Installation, maintenance and repairs3hrs 50min

The results reveal that some industries that are vital to the everyday running of society are working on less than four hours of sleep on average which is bad for productivity and concentration levels, and could be dangerous too.

The professions that tend to get the lowest portion of sleep in the UK are those who do shift work, meaning that employees struggle to sleep when they are trying to change times for shifts. It seems to be a common occurrence in a lot of these industries, so much so that the name of the issue has been dubbed 'Shift Work Disorder'.

Inconsistent schedules in these jobs have led to a ruining of internal body clocks. W. Christopher Winter, President of the Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Clinic and author of many books relating to restless sleep, explained: “The body can never really understand when it is supposed to be sleeping.” Shift work seems to be crippling some workers' sleep patterns completely.

Poor sleep is also physically and mentally hurting employees, as well as just draining our energy. Interrupted sleep is one of the main drivers of stress, which can lead to workers feeling physically faint and weak. This has led to UK adults taking more than 170 million sick days in 2017 alone.

The research also ranked sleep based on the location of workers.


The Cotswold Company's study also found that cities played a part in the amount of sleep employees are getting per night. Glasgow received the ranking for the UK’s most restless city, with employees snoozing for just 3 hours 49 mins on average per night. The table below illustrates the most restless cities:

CityAvg. hours of uninterrupted sleep
Southampton4hrs 20mins
Nottingham4hrs 15mins
Birmingham4hrs 10mins
Manchester4hrs 5mins
Glasgow3hrs 49mins

What’s even more worrying is that even Britain’s 'soundest sleepers' are not getting anywhere near enough sleep per night. Bristol, which holds the title for soundest sleep, just manage to squeeze in 5 hours and 13 mins of undisturbed sleep on average. However, the other 'sound sleeper' cities haven’t got much better average nights:

CityAvg. hours of uninterrupted sleep
Bristol5hrs 13mins
London4hrs 50mins
Liverpool4hrs 45mins
Newcastle4hrs 40mins
Edinburgh4hrs 38mins

Commenting on the new data, Co-Founder and Marketing Director of The Cotswolds Company said: “The results of the survey were quite shocking for us to see and it’s really alarming to discover that we live in a nation of such poor sleepers who are getting by on significantly fewer hours per night than the recommended amount.”So how do we get more sleep?

Winter explained that if employees are doing doing shift work then try to keep your work schedule consistent, don’t work irregular graveyard shifts if at all possible. If this isn’t possible then research suggests that it’s better to encourage your employer to schedule you in for shifts that slowly get later throughout the week, so you can adapt your sleep schedule. Winter added:“It’s a lot easier for us to push a little later than to go to bed earlier.”

The digital revolution has also led to us spending more and more times on our phones, but research suggests this is ruining your sleep patterns due to the blue light emitted on masse by your devices. PubMed Central, a data collector for the National Institutes of Health investigated this blue light issue as early as 2005 and found it was heavily linked to sleep restlessness. You can now buy phones which reduce the blue light release or glasses that block it, but the best bet for a good night’s sleep is to turn your devices off an hour before you go to bed.

Other evidence-backed ways of increasing your uninterrupted sleep pattern are by reducing the naps taken through the day, not drinking caffeine past 6pm, cleaning your bedroom, and exercising regularly – but not before bed.