The call of nature is a leading cause of sleep anxiety in adults across the United Kingdom (UK), according to a survey by sanitary parts and plumbing company Geberit that looked into the UK’s sleeping habits.

The study reports that 90% of Brits wake at least once a night, with 1 in 10 waking five times or more.

The number-one reason for waking up in the middle of the night is to use the bathroom, with more than half of survey respondents waking up at least once to visit the bathroom, the survey found. Once back in bed, 80% of the population say they struggle to get back to sleep again. Thirty percent of adults dread waking for this very reason, with 40% saying they avoid drinking anything at all during the evening in case it wakes them.

Sleep practitioner James Wilson (aka the Sleep Geek) says that while pre-bedtime habits are vital to ensure a good night’s sleep, waking during the night and worrying about getting back to sleep is often the biggest obstacle in achieving a good night’s rest. “Everyone’s sleep pattern is different, but the average sleep cycle should ideally be 6 to 8 hours for adults,” says Wilson in a release. “If we are outside of these cycles, we could be doing more harm than we realize.”

According to Wilson, there are three key environmental factors keeping us from the land of nod: light, temperature, and noise.

Turning the bathroom light on to navigate your way to the toilet sends a message to the brain that it is time to wake up. This tallies up with the research which revealed that 40% of people turn on the light when they wake to go to the toilet.

More than half of the population (55%) flush the toilet regardless of how late the hour is and despite the risk of disturbing others. This could explain why many people struggle to return to a peaceful slumber after using the bathroom. With hearing being our most sensitive sense and the last thing to switch off, the noise from the flushing toilet could be enough re-awaken the brain.

Members of the household that are disturbed by other people’s bathroom noise such as a flushing toilet are often left feeling grumpy and disgruntled the next day too, with 33% of those surveyed citing this as a concern.

“Rather than letting sleep deprivation set in, opting for bathroom fittings that are sympathetic to the senses can help return us quickly to sleep,” says Raffaela De Vittorio, marketing and brands director for Geberit. “The Geberit AquaClean Mera and Geberit Monolith sanitary module, for example, have a sensor-controlled orientation light that guides the way with no harsh glare. The seat of the AquaClean Mera automatically heats up on approach too, while TurboFlush technology provides a thorough, yet super-quiet flush.”

Regional Findings

  • Bristol is most rested city (33% don’t wake in the night to use toilet)
  • Chelmsford is least rested (80% of people waking to use toilet)
  • Aberdeen most chilled (40% people getting back to sleep easily after using the toilet)
  • In Glasgow, Coventry, and Wolverhampton 90% people struggle to get back to sleep
  • Aberdeen are the cleanest (66% flush toilet in the night)
  • Sheffield are least clean (45% not flushing the toilet in the night)
  • Portsmouth are the least considerate (58% people switching on the light to use the toilet)
  • Worcester are the most considerate (77% navigating to the toilet in the dark)
  • York grumpiest with partners after being woken in night (16% grumpy next day)
  • Oxford least grumpy (66% not grumpy at all about being woken)