Knackered Nation

Despite the effort to maintain a Churchill-esque “keep calm and carry on” outward appearance, Brits are secretly adopting more of a Margaret Thatcher “4 hours sleep is all the body needs” attitude, according to a recent study. The study, conducted by Aviva across 13 different countries in Europe, North America and Asia, found that UK citizens were the most likely to say they’re not getting the sleep they need.


A similar study on the percent of citizens claiming lack of sheep had Ireland in dead last.

There are several potential reasons for this wide-spread lack of sleep: too much tea before bed, not enough tea before bed, or not apologizing under your breath for bumping someone on the tube earlier in the day, to name a few. Or, some less stereotypical reasons may be stress, working a late or early shift, or just poor sleep habits in general.

Tired from Tech?

Regardless of the root of this wide-spread problem, I couldn’t help but draw a correlation between this study and a certain piece of research StoneShot has conducted on the extent of mobile interaction professional investors made with emails during a work-day in the UK. Based on the previously mentioned sleep study, its plain to see why the below graph piqued my interest.

As the graph demonstrates, advisor and professional investor mobile email interaction is steady in the wee hours of the morning, takes a noticeable dip during normal working hours, and skyrockets at around 5 – 7 PM, where it remains until the work day begins again. For anyone who has ever sat in bed in the dark, with nothing but the light of your mobile device illuminating your drowsy face, its easy to understand why these numbers are the way they are, and why this may have something to do with the UK’s sleep issues.

Blue Light, Red Eyes

We’re no strangers to the differences between correlation and causation, so we’re not positing that the entire UK is up at night and into the morning checking their emails. However, it is a fascinating correlation to consider, especially considering its scientifically proven that using electronic devices which emit blue light (AKA all of your devices with screens) before bed has a profoundly negative effect on your sleep patterns. For reasons still not completely understood, blue light interferes with your circadian rhythms (your internal clock) much more severely than any other color light. In a study conducted by Harvard comparing the effects of exposure to 6.5 hours of both blue and green light, the blue light caused subjects to experience a suppression of melatonin, a chemical which effects circadian rhythms, for double the amount of time than the effect of green light.


So, on the off chance that this addiction to late-night email is the sole factor for the collective lack of sleep a large swath of the UK  populous is experiencing, here are a few tips to make the transition into sleep more seamless without sacrificing that screen time:

  • Only use dim red lighting in your bedroom
  • Install F.Lux onto your computer since it automatically reduces your screen’s blue light emission based on the time.
  • Try installing Misfit’s Bolt light bulbs, which you can program to automatically change color based on the time.
  • Use a pair of Blue Blocker sunglasses when reading in bed. Its low-tech but it works like a charm.
  • If you have an iPhone, turn on the “Night Shift” feature.

Finally, to all of our UK financial professional readers, its an admirable goal to be as productive as possible and strive for that “Thatcher-level” work rate which 4 hours of sleep a night can afford you, but its important to note that the only reason Margaret Thatcher was able to accomplish such inspiring drive was because she was literally a mutant. So until gene manipulation technology advances to the point where we can all get injected with a healthy dose of the Thatcher gene and usher in a new golden era of productivity, give yourselves a break and catch a bit of shut eye.