September could be the start of the New Stress Year – as schools restart and work reboots, The Sleep Council has found that Stresstember not only marks the return to routine, but to higher pressure levels too.
The NBF's consumer-facing arm's latest research shows that millions of people are caught in a vicious cycle of stress and sleepless nights, with September identified by health professionals as being a stressful month for many.
Neil Shah, director of The Stress Management Society which is supporting The Sleep Council campaign to highlight the problem of stress and sleep, says: "In our experience September is the beginning of the stress calendar – the kids are back at school, the summer holidays are officially over, the weather is starting to change and we have to wait until Christmas for the next public holiday."
The study saw almost 90% of people admit to suffering from some form of stress in their lives, with almost two out of five saying they are regularly, frequently or constantly stressed.
Not surprisingly, three quarters say they have problems sleeping while stressed, with the catch-22 that almost a third say when they can't sleep they get stressed, while just over a quarter say the best way to relieve stress is to have a good night's sleep.
The Stresstember survey found that, fresh from the long summer break, the nation's stress levels quickly reach 5.3% as the academic and working world gets back in to gear. Students are significantly more likely to feel under pressure, with 16% of those polled in the 16-24 year old age group saying they found September stressful. And women (6%) are more likely than men (4%) to feel the Stresstember strain.
By the end of October when the clocks go back and we all lose an extra hour of sleep, stress levels affect 6.5% of us. They more than double to 14% in the hectic run-up to Christmas - but actually peak at 15% during the gloomy winter months. December is deemed to be the single most stressful month (by 9% of respondents).
Even holidays can prove a tense time of year, with 8% of those questioned admitting to feeling stressed by everything there is to do ahead of going away.
"There are clearly peaks and troughs in our stress levels throughout the calendar year," says Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council, "and for many this manifests itself in an inability to sleep well."
While 72% of those questioned blamed stress for sleeping problems, other reasons included feeling under the weather (46%) and sleeping in a different bed (31%). The younger generations appear to be creatures of habit, with almost half (46%) of 16-24 year olds having trouble sleeping when they aren't in their own beds.
Says Lisa: "Given nearly a third of people said that sleeping in a different bed can lead to trouble sleeping or disturbed sleep, there is clearly a strong link between the bed we sleep in and a good night's sleep. Sleeping in a different bed will often validate the comfort of our own bed - or prove it's time for a new one!"
The survey also found that more than 70% of us claim to have suffered with sleep disorders such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome and nightmares. Over a quarter of us find a good night's sleep in a comfortable bed helps to relieve stress, with losing ourselves in an interest or hobby, reading and watching TV also coming out top in ways to combat stress.
The research for was carried out by Opinion Matters between: 25/07 and 31/07/2014, from a sample of 2035 UK adults.