We all have our own unique patterns, habits and problems when it comes to sleep. Some of us feel that we don’t get enough sleep, whilst others say they sleep too much and some struggle more with the quality of their sleep rather than the quantity. When sleep problems occur very frequently or begin to affect your day-today life, this may be a sign that you’re suffering from insomnia, which can have a negative effect on both your physical and mental health.
In this article we find out exactly how big of a problem Insomnia is, revealing all of the latest sleep and insomnia statistics for the UK and finding out more about the state of our sleep in 2021.
Our research found that:
Over the years, much research has been carried out in an attempt to determine exactly how many people in the UK have insomnia. Much of this research suggests that around a third of adults suffer with insomnia, but more recent findings suggest that insomnia may be a much larger problem than we once thought.
To find out how many people have insomnia in the UK in 2021, we surveyed 1,000 UK adults using Google Surveys to discover how many people in the UK have insomnia. Are key findings revealed that:
When breaking down the survey responses by age and gender, our study revealed the following:
As with many questions and issues we face in life, many of us take our sleep woes to Google to look for answers, tips and solutions in the hope that it’ll help us get in those all important Zzz’s.
To find out how the coronavirus pandemic has affected our sleep issues, we conducted an analysis using the search tool Keyword Finder. This allowed us to view and compare search volumes for common sleep related queries over the last few years, to help us determine whether or not the pandemic has had an impact on the UK’s sleep.
The first term we looked at was ‘How to sleep fast’. Each month in the UK, this term is searched for an average 6,700 times. With Google Trends revealing that the majority of these searches are made between 1 and 4am.
As you can see from the chart, searches increased between January and April 2020, also being elevated throughout the month of August, too. As we know, the coronavirus lockdown was enforced in the month of March, which may be a possible explanation for this increase in searches.
Search terms such as ‘How to fall asleep quickly’ also increased over this period, almost doubling from January to August 2020, before dropping back down towards the end of the year.
Looking at our online search trends, it appears that many of us frequently search for medicinal solutions to help us with our sleep woes.
In fact, over the past year in the UK:
It’d be easy to assume that the UK’s busiest cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester would suffer most when it comes to insomnia. However, our search analysis has actually revealed that Walsall in the West Midlands appears to have the highest rate of insomniacs.
|City||Average yearly searches for ‘Can’t sleep’ per 1,000 people|
In Walsall, almost 10 in every 1,000 people* searched for ‘can’t sleep’ online in the past year (February 2020 to February 2021).
As you can see form the table, Stockport, Bedford and Bury also have a high proportion of searches for this term. However, one of the most interesting findings from our research is that the majority of cities in the top 10 list of sleepless cities are in the North West of England.
In fact, 7 out of 10 of the cities searching for ‘Can’t sleep’ the most are in the North West, namely: Stockport, Bury, Warrington, Chester, Wigan, Bolton and Birkenhead.
As well as regularly searching for general solutions for sleep problems online, our research also found that the following cities search for Melatonin most frequently:
As you can see, people in Bedford, Walsall and Bury also conducted the most searches for Melatonin online over the last 12 months.
*It’s important to note that each search does not necessarily correspond to a different individual, as one person may search for the same term multiple times.
Methodology: To obtain this data, we used Keyword Finder to discover the average yearly search volume for ‘can’t sleep’ for each major UK city over the last 12 months, before dividing this figure by the population of each city and multiplying by 1,000. The full methodology and data sources can be found here.
As well as having high search volumes for terms related to sleep problems, the North West also appears to prescribe some of the highest rates of insomnia medication in the whole of England. The map and chart below show the highest prescribing CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) in England when it comes to Insomnia medication. The darker red areas show the CCGs that prescribe a higher than average amount of insomnia medication, with the lighter red areas representing those with lower rates.
The table below shows the top 20 CCGs in England prescribing the highest rates of insomnia medication.
|CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group)||Prescribed Insomnia items per 1,000 people|
|Norfolk and Waveney||22.2|
|Brighton and Hove||21.6|
|North East Essex||21.5|
|Southport and Formby||18.1|
|Isle of Wight||17.6|
|Blackburn with Darwen||16.5|
As you can see from the table:
Almost half (9 out of 20) of the CCGs prescribing the most insomnia medication in England are in the North West.
The CCG with the highest rate of insomnia medication prescriptions is St Helens, who prescribe more than double the national average rate of insomnia medication.
To obtain the survey data, we surveyed 1,000 UK adults on 17th March 2021 using Google Surveys.
The search volume data was obtained via an analysis we conducted on the online search tool Keyword Finder on 18th March 2021.
All NHS prescription data was obtained from openprecsribing.net and the full methodology detailing how we came to our conclusions can be found here.
If you're someone who reguarly has trouble sleeping, it's important to first identify the cause of your sleep problems. There are a wide range of issues that can contribute to trouble sleeping, from stress and anxiety to pain or even underlying health problems. Some great ways to improve your sleep naturally are:
Here, Formulate Health founder Mina Khan provides her best tips and advice for getting regular, good quality sleep: