Ranking the worst-rested

Belfast was confirmed as the most tired city in the UK. The Northern Irish capital searched for sleepless related terms more than any other major UK city. The people of Belfast were 38 per cent more likely to seek out help from Google than the average search score across the 20 cities. For every 100,000 people, sleep-deprived terms were searched for 1,931 times.

While Belfast sleepwalked their way into first place, they were closely followed by Newcastle upon Tyne and Plymouth, who placed second and third respectively. People in these two areas are 32 per cent and 28 per cent more likely to search for sleep-deprived terms than the average person across the UK’s major cities.

Meanwhile, some cities proved themselves more capable of a good night’s sleep than others. Surprisingly and despite being the UK’s equivalent of the city that never sleeps, London demonstrated a limited need for sleep assistance. For every 100,000 people in the English capital, there were only 693 searches per month for sleep-deprived terms. This falls 51 per cent below the UK average. As the centre of business in the UK, you could easily believe that a good night’s sleep was hard to come by. However, the people of London have proved that they don’t have too much difficulty getting their shuteye.

Other well-rested cities included Birmingham and Sheffield, where searches were 30 per cent and 19 per cent below the UK average respectively.

Most Tired Major UK Cities

CitySearches per 100k people CitySearches per 100k people
1Belfast1,931 11Leeds1,320
2Newcastle upon Tyne1,855 12Leicester1,301
3Plymouth1,794 13Manchester1,296
4Kingston upon Hull1,680 14Bristol1,288
5Stoke-on-Trent1,677 15Edinburgh1,281
6Nottingham1,600 16Liverpool1,279
7Southampton1,599 17Cardiff1,173
8Bradford1,393 18Sheffield1,133
9Coventry1,380 19Birmingham987
10Glasgow1,356 20London693

A sleeping pandemic

However, anxiety surrounding the pandemic may have also contributed to our sleeping problems. Between the start of 2020 and the start of 2021, searches for sleep-deprived terms increased by 30 per cent.

The city with the biggest increase was in Birmingham, where searches have grown by 51 per cent since the pandemic started. This was followed by Leicester with a 50 per cent increase. London, Glasgow, and Bristol also increased their searches by 38 per cent.

Every major UK city increased their searches for sleep-deprived terms in the past year! This demonstrates a clear shift in the lethargy of the country. Only Cardiff and Southampton had a minimal increase of 4 per cent and 16 per cent respectively, though any increase is concerning.

Tired solutions

The sleep-deprived terms in the data included searches for sleep remedies. The key terms ‘sleeping tablets’ and ‘sleeping pills’ were the most searched for terms in the UK, with 27,100 and 22,200 searches every month. Interestingly, these terms and ‘melatonin in the UK’ were searched for more by the UK public before asking ‘why can’t I sleep’ and ‘how to get to sleep’. This may indicate that the public is seeking out quick-fix solutions for their sleeping problems before attempting to truly understand their night-time issues. Meanwhile, terms such as ‘healthy sleep’ and ‘improve sleep quality’ were only searched 320 times each per month in the UK. Reeducating Brits on long-term sleep solutions is vital to getting a proper night’s sleep rather than relying on quick-fix pills that might get you to sleep but not leave you feeling rested.

Sleep deprivation can be caused by several factors, including anxiety, physical health, the quality of your bed, and your lifestyle routine. During the past year, most of these aspects have been out of our control, where lockdowns have impacted our routines including exercise and caused substantial stress. However, it is worrying that the data indicates more people looking for immediate relief for their sleeping troubles. Remedies including melatonin and other sleeping pills only offer short term solutions to this problem.

Melatonin, for example, is a natural chemical that your body produces when you are close to sleep. Using an additional supplement can increase your reliance on the chemical, meaning that it is more difficult to sleep in normal circumstances. Other side effects of the drug include nausea, dizziness, headaches, and prolonged tiredness when you should be alert. Instead, healthier alternatives to relieving your sleep troubles are recommended.

Exercise and meditation can help with sleep, not only does it help correct chemical imbalances in your brain and body, but they are also great tools for helping with anxiety and mental health. Creating a consistent routine is also important, and strict night-time routines can further help when it comes to getting to sleep. The body will release natural melatonin when it recognises it’s time for bed, so dimming the lights and preparing yourself for sleep is better than throwing yourself straight into bed after an evening in front of your phone or TV.

You should also consider how your bed affects your sleep. It’s often overlooked despite its importance in our lives – we spend around a third of our lives in one. Good mattresses are supportive, breathable, and comfortable. Sleep is important for body repair, not just your rest. When lying down, different parts of your body will be pressured on the mattress. A mattress that combats this effect is essential. Other factors which can impact our sleep include odour, moisture, and temperature. A bamboo mattress is usually a viable solution for these problems. The natural components of the mattress are antibacterial, help eliminate odour and moisture, and regulate temperature, further helping you to get to sleep every night.

Sleep is vitally important for our health. But while the data shows that sleepless city people are becoming increasingly tired, there is also evidence of a determination to improve our sleep. Whether through positive routines, good exercise, or a quality mattress, we can all become pro-sleepers with a little help and guidance.