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Sleep Med. 2014 Mar;15(3):295-302. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2013.10.015. Epub 2014 Jan 18.

Self-reported sleep patterns in a British population cohort.

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Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Strangeways Research Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. Electronic address:
Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Strangeways Research Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
Division of Mental Health and Well-being, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.
Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, UK.
Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.



Sleep patterns have been linked to various health outcomes, but sleep patterns in the British population have not been extensively reported. We aimed to describe the sleep characteristics reported by the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk participants, with a particular emphasis on the comparison of measures of sleep quantity.


From 2006 to 2007, a total of 8480 participants aged 45-90 years reported sleep timing, nighttime sleep duration, and sleep difficulties. Time in bed (TIB) was calculated from the difference between rise time and bedtime, and sleep proportion was defined as the ratio of sleep duration and TIB.


On average, the reported TIB was more than 1.5h longer than sleep durations. Compared to men, women spent 15 min longer in bed, but they slept for 11 min less and reported more sleep difficulties. In multivariate analysis sleep duration and TIB varied with socioeconomic factors, but sleep proportion was consistently lower among women, nonworkers, and older individuals, as well as those who were widowed, separated, or divorced; those who reported sleep difficulties and more frequently used sleep medication; and those who had lower education, poorer general health, or a major depressive disorder (MDD).


Self-reported sleep duration and TIB have different meanings and implications for health. Sleep proportion may be a useful indicator of sleep patterns in the general population.


England; Epidemiology; Population; Sleep patterns; Sleep quantity; Sleep research

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