Canada Life: Lack of sleep has led to 14.4m sick days annually

According to the latest research commissioned by Canada Life, 11% of sick days over the last year were caused by poor sleep, with adults in the UK sleeping for less than 7 hours a night.

Related topics:  Canada Life,  research
Tabitha Lambie | Editor, Protection Reporter
7th September 2023
sleep desk tired
"[Sleep] underpins everything we do, forming the basis of how we feel, our health, wellness, our relationships, and our professional lives."
- John Kendall, senior rehabilitation consultant at Canada Life

Of those surveyed (2,000), 36% don’t feel like they are getting enough sleep most nights and one in six (16%) feel they aren’t able to keep good physical and mental health as a result of poor sleep. Meanwhile, 63% felt the desire to nap at some point during the day: 10% frequently felt the desire to nap during the day, followed by 16% often feeling the desire, and 37% sometimes feeling the desire to nap. For 15% of adults in the UK, this has led to, on average, three sick days in the last 12 months, which is 14.4m sick days collectively.

Canada Life found that reasons for poor sleep were “far-reaching,” with 24% admitting they stay up too late and 14% using their mobile phones or other devices in bed. However, for 21% of adults, poor sleep was caused by physical conditions or illnesses, and 17% because of poor mental health. This was followed by 11% struggling due to their partner snoring, 16% suffering from insomnia, and 12% struggling to sleep due to stress about their financial situation.

While 30% have sought help to address their poor sleep hygiene, 70% haven’t taken any action. Of those who have tried to improve their sleep, 45% have tried sleeping pills or medication, 36% have spoken to an NHS doctor, 32% have tried meditation or mindfulness, 29% have used alternative or herbal medicine, and 23% used an app. 

Commenting on these findings, John Kendall, senior rehabilitation consultant at Canada Life, has said:

“Lack of sleep and poor sleep quality is a really important factor in our overall well-being and wellness. It underpins everything we do, forming the basis of how we feel, our health, wellness, our relationships, and our professional lives. If we can get sleep right, we are more resilient to the hurdles that life throws our way, and we can improve our health and wellness, the quality of our relationships, and how we perform at work. 

“Employers can play an important role in giving employees access to the right kind of help to improve their sleep and therefore, their overall wellbeing. Benefits like providing access to virtual GPs and support services can play a huge role. MyStrength is Canada Life’s mental wellbeing app, available to all employees and immediate family members of companies who have a workplace protection policy with Canada Life: [‘myStrength’].

“The app offers users access to programmes and modules based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, specifically designed to help improve sleep. In fact, the sleep improvement module is currently the most accessed and completed app on myStrength. This means around 5% of the UK’s workforce - or 2.8 million workers - are able to proactively manage or improve their wellbeing at their own convenience.”

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