Almost one in two UK adults could be at risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even shortened life expectancy due to their sleeping patterns, according to new research we’ve carried out.

Our study shows that almost half of us - 49%* - sleep for a maximum of six hours each night, which can have ‘profound consequences’ on physical health and wellbeing. According to the NHS, a lack of sleep can lead to some of the most serious health conditions, including diabetes, with news last week that prescription costs for diabetes have reached the £1bn mark per year.

Almost two thirds (65%) of weary Brits would love to get more sleep, whilst 48% admit they don’t get enough shut-eye as it is. Active Quote private medical insurance team leader Mark Todd said: “Most of us know that sleep is not just good for the soul is but essential to living a long and healthy life. Despite this, the majority of us are clearly still failing woefully to get the good night’s sleep we deserve.

“It seems a sad indictment of life today that, in spite of all the time-saving devices technology has afforded us, we are still unable to set aside enough time for something which stands to benefit us so much in the long term, such as a good old kip.”

According to NHS sleep guidelines, the average adult needs around eight hours of good quality sleep each night to function properly, with repeated deprivation leading to fatigue, ill temper and a lack of focus at best. Studies have shown that anyone sleeping for less than seven hours each night is prone to gaining weight and at greater risk of obesity than those who sleep more. When sufferers of anxiety or depression were asked about their sleeping habits, it also turned out that most of them slept for less than six hours a night too.

Mark added: “Indeed, it may well be that the life we are living in today’s digital age is disrupting our daily routine and overall wellbeing in a way which quite simply can no longer be ignored. Getting a good night’s sleep is imperative to ensure that you are looking after your general health and to help you lead a happier life.

“Sleep deprivation can affect the way we function and behave and can quickly erode other parts of life. Stress can come in many forms and if you or a member of your family, are waiting to see a doctor those levels can go through the roof. Having private medical insurance is one way to reduce stress levels and give you peace of mind that a medical professional can be seen quickly – allowing you to get a quick appointment and get that much-needed shut-eye.”

One way to ensure you get a good night’s sleep is to spend time outdoors each day, even if for just 15 minutes. We all know that fresh air helps aid sleep enormously, and there are a number of other benefits of the outdoors on your health! You might also want to read our article on small steps to a healthier life, which, along with enough rest, include getting lots of exercise and watching how much alcohol you drink.

*OnePoll conducted a survey of 2,000 randomly selected adults in September 2018.