World Sleep Day 2020: How Much Sleep Do Different Age Groups Get in the UK?

Alastair Davidson

Alastair DavidsonContent Specialist, Firstbeat

Stress & Recovery

World Sleep Day

Sleep is a vital element of recovery. Failing to get the right quality or quantity can have a knock-on effect on virtually every aspect of our lives. From decision-making and energy levels, to productivity at work and our ability to cope under pressure.

Making sure we’re all getting a good amount of sleep is, therefore, a key element to achieving good mental and physical health and boosting our overall well-being. It is the time when the body can recover, recuperate and recharge its batteries for the day – and challenges – ahead.

The NHS recommends that adults get “around eight hours of good-quality sleep to function properly” and reap these benefits. But how much sleep is the UK population actually getting on a nightly basis?

To coincide with World Sleep Day 2020, we dove into the Firstbeat database to find out what over 18,000 days of UK measurement data reveals.

The Firstbeat database is made up of over 100,000 days’ worth of measurement data recorded by people taking the Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment – the professional-grade coaching tool which uses Heart Rate Variability analytics to monitor stress, recovery, physical activity, and fitness.

What the Data Shows

The UK-specific data showed the total mean amount of nightly sleep is 7.6 hours.

Those aged 18-29 achieve the most overnight sleep with 51% of the group enjoying more than eight hours of sleep on average. This contrasts with the over 60s where only 43% hit the eight-hour mark. The +60 age group also has the highest percentage (9%) who sleep for fewer than 6 hours.

However, it is actually those in the 55-59 age bracket who sleep the least. This group averages 7.5 hours of time asleep whilst 60% sleep for fewer than eight hours – an increase of 11% compared to the 18-29 group.

This data accounts for both typical weekdays (Monday-Friday) and weekend data. It is likely hours slept during Monday-Friday would be lower than the full weekly average due to work commitments, etc. This would correlate to previously discussed Firstbeat data showing the weekend is when the highest proportion of recovery takes place.

The table below shows the full results across the eight age categories collected from over 18,000 measured days.

UK Sleeping time table

Table 1: Amount of time sleeping broken down by UK age groups

Finding your Sleep Routine

Considering we are often met by scary headlines about the lack of sleep or dangers of not sleeping enough, these results can be seen as a positive as we emphasize the importance of getting overnight recovery on World Sleep Day.

Of course, on an individual level, all we can try to do is put ourselves in the best position to get the overnight recovery that can help us reach our health and performance potential.

“The role of sleep cannot be emphasized enough,” explains Tiina Hoffman, Firstbeat Expert Physiologist. “It is the time for the body to recharge and recover from the different stressors that belong to life. Prioritizing good sleep has a positive effect on essentially all aspects of your daily life – from work and leisure, to general well-being and health.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to making sure you get a good night’s sleep, but listening to your body and trying to make sensible decisions, such as slowing down before bedtime and limiting late-night alcohol or exposure to blue light from phones or tablets can help.”

Learn More

Are you an individual looking to improve your sleep? Or an employer looking for ways to help boost your staff well-being?

Get in touch to learn more about the Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment and how it can help introduce positive, meaningful changes in areas ranging from sleep and stress management, to fitness and physical activity.

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Alastair Davidson

Alastair Davidson Content Specialist, Firstbeat

Alastair is a Content Specialist who has previously worked in sports journalism and tech communication. These experiences now help him create unique content about Firstbeat's role in sports and wellness in the form of blogs and case studies. An avid sports fans, Alastair continues to play football in his native U.K., and enjoys keeping up with the latest wellness trends.

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