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Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 10:29 GMT
Gadgets may cause lonely bedtimes
Couple sleeping
Increasingly a thing of the past?
Our liking for modern technology may be disrupting our sleep - and even our relationships, claims a UK survey.

The poll, by The Sleep Council, found that many people admitted checking texts, surfing the internet, or playing games in bed.

It suggests one in four people now regularly sleeps in a different bed from their partner, and many often go to bed at different times.

The average midweek bedtime is between 10pm and 11pm, says the survey.

The survey shows that more than half of us regularly feel so tired at work that we would like to go home, with one in eight people feeling that way three or four times a week
Dr Jessica Alexander
The Sleep Council

Jessica Alexander, from the The Sleep Council, which is funded by the bed industry, said: "Busy night time routines are driving couples' bedtimes and even their bedrooms apart.

"Nine per cent of those questioned admitted to always sleeping separately from their partner."

One in ten of the 1,400 people questioned said their bedtime routine included saying prayers - but charging up mobiles and other gadgets was a higher priority, with 22% mentioning this.

Some traditions are still going strong, however, with pyjamas still the most popular choice of nightwear.

Two out of five people said they rarely went to bed at the same time as their partner, and one in three said bed was a good place to make phone calls, or send texts and emails.

One in five visited social networking sites such as Facebook while propped up with pillows, or listened to their MP3 players.

Some bedtime drinks are also not guaranteed to aid sleep - while water, cocoa and other milky drinks are still popular, 9% of those surveyed said that coffee was a nightcap, with another 9% opting for alcohol.

All of which adds up to a potentially poor night's sleep, says the council.

"The survey shows that more than half of us regularly feel so tired at work that we would like to go home, with one in eight people feeling that way three or four times a week," said Jessica Alexander.

'Not necessarily bad'

Denise Knowles, from Relate, the marriage guidance charity, said that sleeping apart was not necessarily a bad thing for couples.

"It does depend whether, even though they're sleeping in different beds, they're still having sex - in some ways, it could be like dating again: 'Your place or mine?'.

"In fact, sleeping in different beds can be a very considerate thing to do, if there is something like bad snoring which is keeping the other person awake."

However, she said that one in ten people who contacted Relate cited computer gaming or the internet as a contributor to the troubles in their relationship.

"If you are spending a lot of time on the computer or games machine, it could be detracting from your relationship, and you should ask yourself why you're doing that, and not spending time with your partner."

Professor Jim Horne, from the Sleep Research Centre in Loughborough, said that while there was some evidence that computers and televisions in the bedroom disrupted the sleep of children, this was not necessarily the case for adults.

"I don't think there is any evidence we are sleeping less now than we ever did," he said.

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