Parents’ strangest festive sleeping habits

Of all the stats and facts I have recently read about Christmas and families, the latest research about sleep over the holidays is the quirkiest and funniest and certainly strikes a cord with me and I guess with most London parents.

An online survey, carried out for Dreams by Opinion Matters in December (2014) among approximately 2,000+ UK adults, reveals Brits’ strangest festive sleeping habits. I am sure as a parent you are probably not surprised to read that a huge number of people find themselves sleeping in strange places over the festive season. I have highlighted my favourite facts from the study.

Parents' strangest festive sleeping habits  - dreams dad sleeping on the floor image

45% admitted sleeping in the strangest places, including a cow shed, stable and a skip and also in the middle of a train track under construction (by their child)

Almost two thirds (63%) of UK adults polled revealed that they have had to sleep in a bed other than their own at Christmas, with 25-34 years olds the most likely to have had to sleep elsewhere (67%).

People in the South East (70%) were most likely to be swapping to another bed, closely followed by those in the Yorkshire region (68%).

According to the study, almost half (45%) of us are snoozing in the quirkiest places. Nearly one in five had unsurprisingly slept on the sofa, but more than one in 10 had ended up crashing out on the floor. Incredibly, 6% have had to make do with sleeping in the bath, a tent/caravan or in the car/garage (2% each).

Half of UK men have been forced to sleep somewhere unusual, with 13% suffering on the floor and 3% relegated to the bath.

Some odd sleeping places people admitted they’d been downgraded to at Christmas include:
·      A skip
·      A blow-up boat
·      A cow shed
·      A goat house
·      On the stairs
·      In a field
·      In a stable
·      In a kennel with a dog having puppies
·      In the local pub

Dreams Baby sleeping purple background

A number of people surveyed had slept in the office or on the floor at work, and two people even confessed to sleeping in a public toilet. 3% of 16-24 year olds divulged that they had entered the land of nod on a park bench over the festive period.

Lisa Bond, marketing director at Dreams, said, “They say a change is as good as a rest, but not so at Christmas when you’re sleeping on a hard floor or in the bath-tub. Our survey gives an alarming glimpse of the discomfort that many will have to suffer over the festive season.”


The caring, sharing nation?

According to the study, 57% of adults have had to share a bed or bedroom during the festive season with one or two other people, while one in five (20%) had ended up sharing with three or more. Several respondents had experienced a very crowded Crimbo (Crimbo is a slang word for Christmas), with six to 20 people sharing one sleeping area. The younger generations are more amenable to sharing, with 49% of 25-34 year olds and 48% of 16-24 year olds squeezed into a bed with two to five others.

At both ends of the UK, 44% of Londoners and Scots have had to share with between two and five people. By contrast, more than a quarter of those from the North East and North West have never had to share.


Giving Mum a break

As a nation, we’re happy to give up our beds during the festive break, but not just for anyone… Mums should count themselves lucky, as almost half (46%) of those asked said they’d be happy to vacate their bed for their mother, whereas as only 34% confirmed they would sacrifice it for Dad. Just 3% would give up their bed for a homeless person, and almost a third of us (32%) wouldn’t abandon our bed for anyone at all.

mum with sleeping toddler

Mum is most likely to see their son or daughter relinquish their bed in Wales (50%), closely followed by the South East, London and Scotland (49%). People in the South West are the most reluctant to surrender their bed for anyone at 38%, with the most generous types being the Scots, of whom only a quarter said they wouldn’t hand over their sleeping space.

Clearly a region of pet lovers, nearly one in 20 living in the East of England would give up their own bed for the family dog.


We are not amused…

Exhaustion comes as part of the festive package for many, with more than two in five people (41%) having missed a magical Christmas moment such as children opening their presents, endured a family argument or burnt the turkey as a result of lack of sleep. 17% of us have missed a TV special or festive movie, while 13% have neglected the Queen’s Speech for forty winks. We are more susceptible to arguments due to tiredness, with 12% of us bickering with family or friends, while 8% of adults have suffered some kind of accident or mishap. Nearly 4% of adults have even missed Christmas dinner.

Females are more prone to missing their favourite soaps or films, with 18% admitting to dropping off in front of the box. Six per cent of men have missed the kids unwrapping their gifts thanks to a lack of ‘Z’s, and one in twelve of us have bypassed a visit to family, friends or neighbours, or slept through a party.

The biggest offenders for nodding off in front of the TV are 35-44s, with almost 20% admitting to missing festive specials and TV shows, with 22% of Scots prone to drifting off.

Surprisingly, 16% of the over 55s have confessed to missing the Queen’s Speech, with the worst regional offenders being people in the South West with almost one in five (19%) side-stepping Her Majesty for a snooze, followed closely by the Welsh (18%).


Wide awake on Christmas morning

It’s no wonder we’re shattered over the festive period, as almost a third (32%) of adults will be jumping out of bed on Christmas morning between 4.00 and 7.00am, increasing to almost half of people with children between three and five years old (47%). 45-54 year olds are the earliest risers at that time with 35% waking then.

Regionally, 37% of people living in the Midlands will be waking during these early hours. Least likely to be stirring this soon are the Scots, with just 25%. Almost 7% of Londoners will not climb out of bed until between 10.00 and 11.00am.


Shortage of shut-eye

On Christmas Eve, a fifth (22%) of adults will get less than five hours’ sleep – and they won’t fare any better on Christmas Day itself, as 18% of us get less than five hours’ sleep on the big day, too. On average, UK adults get just six hours and 9 minutes of sleep on the 24th versus 6 hours and 28 minutes on 25th December. Those in the 16-24 age group are getting the most ‘Z’s, averaging 7 hours and 7 minutes on Christmas Day.

child sleeping illustration irene

Kids are the main culprits for our lack of sleep, with 23% of UK adults being disturbed and woken by their children on Christmas morning, growing to 77% for those with children of 5-10 years old. 20% are woken by their partners, while 15% scramble out of bed to put the turkey in the oven (rising to 18% of women). Just under 3% of us will be getting up to go to work.

The Dreams survey also revealed the biggest barriers to sleeping well in someone else’s bed. Forty seven per cent of UK adults said that lumpy pillows interfered with their rest, but over half (56%) cited the mattress as the villain – either being too hard or too soft. Other irritations included crumbs in the sheets, creaky bed frames, being too hot or cold, snoring and other strange noises.


We’re so excited… and we just can’t hide it

On average, 41% of adults consider themselves excited or ‘very excited’ on Christmas morning, with just 12% admitting to not feeling excited at all. Women are the most exuberant at 47%, but in stark contrast, only 34% of men will admit to being full of seasonal joy. The most enthusiastic age group is the 16-24s, with 81% confessing to feeling excited or very excited. 75% of people with children of 3-5 years consider themselves excited on the big day.

Enthusiasm for the season varies across the UK, with people in the North East declaring themselves the biggest festive fans (46%), followed by the Scottish at 44%. Those in the South West are the least passionate about the festivities, with a third (34%) confessing that they are not particularly thrilled by it all.

Lisa Bond advises, “We’re certainly out of our normal ‘comfort zone’ at Christmas, having to sleep in all kinds of odd places and sharing with relatives, being woken up at unearthly times by the kids, and giving our beds up for family and friends. With so little sleep during the festive period, it’s important to make up for this by getting back to your own bed as soon as possible, for a healthy and rested start to the New Year.”

Have you ever fallen asleep in a weird place?

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