Napping nation: 25.7 million UK adults enjoy a siesta
- Half (50 per cent) of Brits wake up feeling tired
- Almost half (49 per cent) of Brits claim to nap for 45 mins at least once a week
- 'Nappuccino’ – a coffee followed by a 20-minute nap – could boost your alertness during the day
Despite its bad reputation, 25.7 million UK adults (49 per cent) admit to napping at least once a week, reveals new research1 from Direct Line Life Insurance’s Need for Sleep campaign.
This could be down to how exhausted we are as a nation, as 26.5 million (50 per cent) adults said they wake up feeling tired – a trend that peaks in people working long office hours (57 per cent) and shift workers (61 per cent).
It would appear that those napping take it seriously too, as the average length of one is 45 minutes. However, almost a quarter (23 per cent or 5.7 million) of us do so for more than an hour. Age also comes into play, as 18–24-year-olds average 58 minutes when having a daytime snooze, while those over 75 nap for 28 minutes – meaning the average time falls by six minutes per decade of age.
The role of a nap
Direct Line Life Insurance’s ’Need for Sleep’ campaign – in which the insurer partnered with Dr Holly Milling, registered clinical psychologist and founder of The Sleep Practice – highlighted that the UK is sleep walking into a health crisis, with 37 million people not getting the recommended seven to nine hours2 of sleep at night.
While often associated with being lazy, research3 shows that naps can actually boost immunity when sick, help process information and memories, and even boost mood and reduce stress levels. Further to this, in his book ‘Why we Sleep’, Matthew Walker4 referred to Greek communities experiencing a rise in cardiac problems when they dropped traditional siestas (37 per cent increased risk of death, compared to those who continued with regular afternoon naps).
Introducing the ‘Nappuccino’
Taking it one step further, a new trend being embraced by people is the ‘nappuccino’. This is when someone drinks a cup of coffee before taking a 20-minute nap. This allows people to reap all the restorative benefits of a brief sleep before gaining the additional alertness derived from the caffeine hit.
Dr Holly Milling, Registered Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Sleep Practice, said: “Sleep health is something we need to pay more attention to as a nation. It’s interesting that whilst naps are often viewed negatively in the western world, more than half of UK adults take advantage of the benefits of a short sleep in the day.
“People nap for a whole range of reasons including to catch up on missed sleep, to boost immunity if we are sick, or simply to enjoy the process of resting and a brief sleep. Naps can also improve memory, attention and physical performance5. For example, many of the professional athletes that I work with include napping as an essential tool in their sleep plan. Likewise, tired employees might find a short daytime nap can help them to become more alert and focused, and so potentially improve their performance and wellbeing at work.”
Vincent Guadagnino, Communications Manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: “Often there is shame associated with having a little mid-afternoon sleep, but it’s good to see that many people are taking time to nap and hopefully reaping the benefits that come with it.
“Our ‘Need for Sleep’ campaign has really highlighted the importance getting enough sleep can have on our overall health. While it’s encouraging to see people are taking naps seriously, there is definitely work to be done to make this widely acceptable and persuade more people to listen to their body and rest when needed.”
Dr Holly Milling’s top tips for napping include:
1. Normalise the need to rest. Give yourself permission to nap if you feel you'd benefit from one, as long as doing so doesn't interfere with your night-time sleep. And if naps aren't for you, that's also fine!
2. Experiment with nap lengths and find what works for you. For most people, a nap of around 20 minutes should provide some of the restorative benefits, without making you feel groggy afterwards.
3. Try a 'nappuccino'. Take a short 20-minute nap straight after a cup of coffee to offer a double boost to your alertness. Take care not to do this too late in the day, in order to protect your night’s sleep.
4. If you find you are needing a nap on most days, it could be a sign that you're not getting enough sleep through the night. You might therefore want to look at ways of improving your night-time sleep before getting into a daily nap routine.
5. If you are struggling with daytime sleepiness, chronic exhaustion or sleep difficulties, speak to your healthcare provider for individualised advice and support. You could have an underlying condition or sleep disorder that needs medical attention and intervention.
For further information please visit https://www.directline.com/life-cover.
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Notes to Editors
1. Omnibus research commissioned among 4,003 UK adults between 13th and 18th October 2021
3. Faraut, B., Andrillion, T., T., Vecchierini, M. F., et al. (2017). Napping: a public health issue. From epidemiological to laboratory studies. Sleep medicine Reviews, 35, p85-100.
4. Walker, M., (2015). Why we sleep.
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Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel, pet and life insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.
Direct Line life insurance policies are underwritten by AIG Life Limited, part of the American International Group, Inc. Registered office: The AIG Building, 58 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 4AB. AIG Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority (FRN number 473752. You can check the FCA register at www.fca.org.uk/register or call the FCA on 0800 111 6768.
Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0800 077 8297 or visiting www.directline.com/life-cover.
About Dr Holly Milling and The Sleep Practice
Founded by Dr Holly Milling B.Sc., M.Sc., DClinPsy., PG.Dip, The Sleep Practice is a leading UK sleep practice. Dr Milling supports individuals and organisations to achieve healthy sleep using evidence-based clinics, training and an industry leading sleep coaching programme.