The less they earn, the less couples are likely to sleep together.
According to a major report into the nation’s sleeping habits, the clear dividing line is a household income of £35K. Below that, just over three quarters (77%) of couples say they sleep together every night they are at home, whereas at least 82% of those earning over that amount share the same bed when they can.
As the nation prepares for its mass return to work following the school holidays, The Sleep Council is releasing the results from its Great British Bedtime Report in time for the ‘Sleeptember’ season.
“That’s when the UK goes back to work in earnest and once again we all need some proper sleep,” says Jessica Alexander of The Sleep Council.
And it was the world of work that inspired a look at how household income and occupation affects our bedtime habits.
“The most startling statistics were how household income – or lack of it – is clearly taking its toll on relationships,” said Jessica. “Among those earning less than 25K, 12% said they never sleep with their spouse or partner. Among those not working at all the figure is 13%.
“£35K would appear to be a clear dividing line in terms of the number of couples who share the same bed and once you get to the over £55,000 income bracket the percentage of couples sleeping together rises further to up to 86%.”
The figures* also throw up other fascinating facts about the way income and occupation affect our sleep. And they reinforce a few stereotypes.
‘Culture vultures’ – those working in arts and culture – are far and away the most likely to choose meditation (21% of those questioned as opposed to the national average of 8%) or homeopathic remedies (18%, national average 7%) as ways of getting to sleep. They are also the most likely group of workers (57%) to be kept awake at night by worry and stress; the most likely to go to bed after midnight (36%, national average 19%); but also the most likely to get a hefty 8-9 hours sleep a night (at 15%, that’s more than twice the national average of 7%). They are also far more likely than other occupations (31%, national average 13%) to be kept awake at night by an uncomfortable bed.
The report also shows that those who earn the most sleep the best. Among those earning over £75K, 83% said they slept very well or fairly well most nights (national average 73%). That compares to a third (33%) of those who do not work who said they sleep very poorly or quite poorly most nights.
People working in legal professions are the most likely to get a good staple seven to eight hours sleep a night with almost a third (32%, national average 22%) saying they get that amount.
Those in architecture/engineering/building get the least sleep with 72% of them saying they get less than seven hours a night. Interestingly, when it came to asking respondents what kept them awake at night, this was also the biggest group laying the blame on a daytime nap.
High earners are the least likely to seek remedies to help them sleep: more than half (53%) of those bringing in over £75K say they have never taken remedies to help them sleep.
The most likely people to reach for medication are those earning under £15K with a quarter (25%, national average 17%) doing so. This group is also the most likely to consult their GP/health visitor with 15% (national average 10%) having done so.
By occupation, those working in HR are the biggest group (57%, national average 49%) to never take sleep remedies.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of those working in sales, media, marketing, architecture, engineering and building turn to alcohol to help them sleep. But here again, the culture vultures reign supreme with more than a quarter (26%) choosing this option.
When it comes to a typical weekday bedtime, legal eagles are the most likely to be tucked up between the sheets by 9-10pm (17%, national average 10%). For those in finance, the ‘witching hour’ is between 10-11pm with nearly half (46%) switching the light off between those times. More than a third (35%) of IT and telecoms boffins leave it until 11-12pm.
Those earning over £75K are more likely than any other income group (17%, national average 12%) to use their laptop as the last thing they do before going to sleep. Across occupational groups, one in five (20%) lawyers uses their lap top last thing at night, pretty much matched by the 19% of those in professional services who final check their inboxes before lights out.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, those working in education are the most likely to read before turning over (49%, national average 41%).
Watching television is a universally popular ‘last thing’ pastime, particularly among people in architecture (45%), those in sales/the media (44%) and finance and IT and telecoms (42%).
When it comes to the bed itself, more interesting snippets emerge. For instance, those who earn the most – over £75K – are by far the most likely to have hung on to their beds for the longest with 23% of that income group having owned their bed for more than eight years. The Sleep Council’s recommended replacement cycle is every seven years.
It’s not as if they pay a fortune for them either. 30% of those earning over £75K paid just £400 – £599 for their current bed.
Sales, media and marketing types are among the most likely to pay more for their bed with 13% paying between £1-2K. Those working in the legal profession are the most likely to splash out on a good bed with 18% saying they spent at least £1K for the bed they sleep in.
Said Jessica Alexander: “Analysing our sleep and bedtime habits by occupation and income has thrown up some incredibly useful information. The Sleep Council is committed to ongoing research of the nation’s sleeping and bed buying habits as the way we buy beds and use them is constantly changing and evolving.”
* Note to Editors: The research for The Sleep Council was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 02/01/2013 and 23/01/2013 amongst a panel resulting in 5007 respondents (UK adults). All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (1998).