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Young Brits' fears of missing out costing them 18 nights' sleep a year

Tuesday, March 29th 2016 by Ellen Branagh

Young Britons are losing out on nearly 18 nights’ sleep a year as they stay up scanning social media to see what friends and family are up to.

Research from Vodafone suggests that the psychological condition FOMO (fear of missing out) is leading to young Brits spending an average of 74 minutes on social media before they go to sleep, as they worry whether friends and family are having more fun than them.

The average night’s sleep for Britons is now 6 hours 38 minutes compared to 7 hours 4 minutes pre-2004, when social media started to take off.

Research carried out for Vodafone, which polled 2,000 Britons over the age of 18, found that those under 25 lose almost 18 nights’ sleep a year each because of FOMO.

More than a third (39%) of under-25s suffer anxiety due to believing they’ve missed out on something while they’re asleep.

The research suggests that more than 36.5m young people lose more sleep when they stay in than when they go out due to excessive social media surfing, while 4.5m young Brits also admitted scanning social networks after 2am.

FOMO is a recently-identified psychological condition which sees people suffer anxiety or distress if they miss out on social engagements, made worse in recent years by social media and the ability to be constantly connected.

According to Vodafone’s research, it’s not just young Britons who feel the effects of the phenomenon, with the nation as a whole losing 55 hours' sleep a year from late-night social media surfing.

This has led to people missing their stops on public transport (30%) or even arriving at work with their clothes inside out (35%).

'Information overload'

Of the things keeping Brits from their sleep, the most popular were news feeds (58%), holiday snaps (36%) and party pictures (26%).

David James, Vodafone’s head of commercial marketing, said: “In our constantly connected world, it’s not uncommon for late night social surfers to suffer from FOMO due to an information overload – with many not recognising the problem, the solution is harder to see.

“Whilst social media is a great tool to help us keep in touch and inspire us to make more of our time, it’s important to keep a healthy balance.”

Vodafone says its new broadband service allows customers to switch off their wi-fi with the touch of a button or set it to switch off automatically, which could stop them surfing all night.

The service works with a companion app which gives users the ability to schedule when wi-fi is available on certain devices and set timers for it to switch off.

Mr James added: “With so much usage taking place after bedtime, we are hoping our new broadband service will help customers switch off more easily – putting them firmly back in the driving seat when it comes to managing their sleep.”

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