It’s been said so often that we’ve come to accept it as fact.
Modern Britons, so we’re told, are plagued by poor sleep fuelled by longer working hours plus our obsession with smartphones and social media.
Researchers, however, have found that we actually enjoy an average of 43 minutes more shut-eye a night than we did four decades ago.
Most adults go to bed half an hour earlier than in 1974 and get up almost 15 minutes later.
Modern Britons, so we’re told, are plagued by poor sleep fuelled by longer working hours plus our obsession with smartphones and social media
This means our time asleep has risen from seven hours and 23 minutes to eight hours and six minutes in 2015.
According to the Oxford University study, our so-called sleep crisis is a popular myth.
The analysis follows a major report in 2016 warning that sleep deprivation was costing the economy £40billion a year and raising the risk of premature death by 13 per cent.
For the Oxford study, experts compared data from the 1970s and the modern day. They looked at results from studies involving thousands of people, showing their time in bed asleep and awake.
This allowed them to calculate actual sleeping time. The results showed a significant increase in the amount of night rest which most people enjoyed. The unemployed saw the biggest rise, sleeping almost an hour more than in the 1970s.
Those in work slept around 45 minutes longer and the retired around 27 minutes more. Researchers found no major difference between men and women.
In the Journal of Sleep Research, they said: ‘There is a view that sleep has declined over recent decades and that sleep deprivation has reached epidemic levels and this has led to public concern. But our analysis shows sleep has increased in the UK over the last four decades by more than 40 minutes on average.’
Most adults go to bed half an hour earlier than in 1974 and get up almost 15 minutes later
One reason, they said, could be that more people work from home, giving them ‘more opportunity to sleep’.
Another theory is that we spend more time in bed watching TV or using computers so may be more likely to nod off earlier.
Dr Neil Stanley, a member of the British Sleep Society and author of the book How to Sleep Well, said the report casts doubt about the ‘terrifying’ warnings on sleep loss.
He added it also called into question fears about the effects of blue light. ‘In 1974, most TVs were black and white, and the only screen in the house,’ he said. ‘Yet despite the plethora of devices these days that emit blue light, we are still sleeping more.’