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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 06:58 GMT 07:58 UK
Workaholics kiss goodnight to sleep
Person sleeping
Sleep deprivation can damage your health
The growing trend of UK employees working from their beds is playing havoc with their sleeping patterns, research suggests.

The pressures of 24-seven society are forcing many individuals to squeeze more working time out of their day from the comfort of their bedrooms.

Hard-pressed staff are often surviving on less than the recommended eight hours sleep a night, as a result.


The brain has to process a lot of information, and it's likely that it simply can't do this continuously

Dr Derk-jan Dijk, University of Surrey
One in six people taking part in the DuPont survey admitted they catch up on work in bed and a third said they make work-related phone calls from under the duvet.

Others use their laptops and send e-mails from the bedroom.

More than a third of British residents are sleeping six hours or less each night - losing a month's sleep every year.

One in 10 manage five hours sleep or less each night - missing about six weeks of sleep a year.

Specialists say changing sleep cycles can damage people's health. Research suggest that sleep deprivation doubles the risk of a heart attack.

Dr Derk-jan Dijk, a sleep researcher from the University of Surrey at Guildford, told BBC News Online that, even for a young person, on average, six hours a sleep a night was not enough.

Even among those who believed they could cope on this amount or less, he said, research had suggested that they were still suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation.

He said: "Whereas after a few days of sleeping these hours, the sleepiness wears off, performance continues to decline.

"The brain has to process a lot of information, and it's likely that it simply can't do this continuously."

Don't get wound up


If you go to bed with a whirring brain, your brain will continue to whirr afterwards

Dr Peter Venn
Dr Peter Venn, director of the Sleep Studies Unit at Queen Victoria Hospital in Sussex, told the BBC: "There is certainly data that has shown that if you don't get adequate sleep there are consequences for health in later life.

"It is not just the time you are in bed for that matters, it is the quality of sleep. Even if you are sleeping alone if you have snoring and breathing difficulties you can disrupt your own sleep."

Dr Venn said it was important to prepare for sleep properly.

"We all go and watch Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight and get very wound up about things, and then we go to bed and expect to switch off and go to sleep. But life isn't life that, if you go to bed with a whirring brain, your brain will continue to whirr afterwards."

He said hot milky drinks acted as a sedative. Sleeping alone was best, but if you slept with a partner, it was best to use separate duvets to minimise the disturbance created by the other person's movement.

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The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"Our sleep patterns are shifting"
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10 Feb 00 | Health
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