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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 00:32 GMT
Lack of sleep 'worrying Britons'
Couple sleeping
Nearly half of people complained of too little sleep
A lack of sleep and too little exercise were singled out as top health concerns by Britons quizzed in a survey.

More than half were troubled by not doing enough exercise, while 45% told the Legal and General poll of 4,000 people they did not get enough sleep.

More than a third said they felt constantly run-down, while 28% said their daily routine caused them stress.

Hospital cleanliness was more of a worry than long waiting lists, and feeling depressed a concern for 25%.

The majority of people are less obsessed on major issues such as diet and passive smoking
Tessa Webster
Legal and General

According to the poll, some 16% were worried about waiting too long to see a GP or specialist.

Worries about lifestyle habits also featured in the survey results.

Some 17% said they were concerned about second-hand smoke, while just under one in eight were worried about not being able giving up smoking themselves.

Some 16% were worried about their level of alcohol consumption, and 2% fretted about contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

Legal and General said the results of their survey, carried out in the last three months, showed there was a mismatch between what Britons worry about and the hot health topics that dominate debate.

Customer services director Tessa Webster said the study dashed any assumption that people were indifferent to health issues.

"With around nine in 10 people mentioning at least one concern, health and wellbeing is very much a live public issue.

'Tired society'

"The issue is that the majority of people are less obsessed on major issues such as diet and passive smoking and are far more concerned with the impact that busy lives are having on their health: stress, sleep deprivation, lack of time for exercise."

She said the insurance firm's main concern was that many people are focusing on symptoms, not causes.

"Good diet, not smoking and a good night's sleep all feature as vital drivers for good health.

"It is interesting to note that many people are worrying about tiredness, stress and depression rather than looking at the causes of these conditions," Ms Webster added.

Dr Neil Stanley, director of sleep research at the University of Surrey, said it was difficult to say whether people were sleeping less now than they were before.

Regular exercise

"But what is clear is that we seem to be a more tired society - we don't seem to be happy about what is happening."

The pressures of daily life often fed into a lack of sleep as people found stress made it more difficult for them to get a good night's sleep, he said.

"It's a vicious circle. The more tired we are the worse we feel," he added.

Chairman of the National Obesity Forum, Dr Colin Waine, said anyone doing 30 minutes of exercise daily should not worry that they were not taking enough exercise.

"We are talking about something like brisk walking, or it could be swimming or even dancing, but it's best if you chose something you enjoy," he said.

But someone wanting to lose weight would have to do 90 minutes of exercise a day, he added.


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