trouble sleeping
Research has finally confirmed what most of us take for granted - poor sleepers are more likely to be forgetful as well as unhappy.

A study of more than 1,000 UK adults showed that 25 per cent of those who spend less than five hours in the land of Nod suffer from memory malfunction which affects their quality of life.

Participants aged 18 to 80 were asked to measure their sleep against five different "everyday" memories: having to check whether they've done something; forgetting to tell somebody something important; where things are normally kept; doing something they intended to do such as posting a letter and finding it difficult to concentrate.

Poor sleep was classed as under five hours a night and the results found that all aspects of memory are affected by low levels of sleep.

The most commonly reported memory failure was having to check whether they had done something with 50 per cent struggling with this problem at least once a week but the figure rose to two thirds for poor sleepers.

This was closely followed by people forgetting to do something they intended to do - a weekly problem for 44 per cent rising to 60 per cent for those who slept for under five hours.

Forgetting where things are kept was a weekly problem for 25 per cent of respondents though when they had slept poorly it drastically increased to two thirds.

Half of poor sleepers surveyed said they "regularly" struggled with concentration in relation to their working life illustrating the profound effect lack of sleep has on everyday memory and wellbeing.

On average, those who slept for less than five hours a night were 25 per cent more forgetful than those who slept for longer.

The independent academic research by psychologists at University of Leeds and leading bed maker Silentnight looked at the effects of sleep on memory and how people function day-to-day, outside of a lab, among the general public.

Dr Anna Weighall, a developmental cognitive psychologist with expertise in sleep research who led the study said: "Good sleep leads to improved memory performance and this leads to a better quality of life.

"It has long been said this is the case and we have noticed such findings in a lab, but this is the first time we have gone out to people in their everyday lives and achieved measurable results.
woman sleeping
© Getty images
"It proves to us beyond doubt that those people getting a good night's sleep can potentially have a better quality of life and hopefully, as a result, be happier.

"Of course, there are other factors affecting memory over and above sleep, but at this stage they are poorly understood and could be difficult to change.

"This is not the case with sleep and there are many things we can do to improve it."

Silentnight's sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, said: "With more than a quarter of Brits sleeping for less than five hours a night, there is no wonder that this lack of sleep is having a major effect on memory and happiness.

If you're struggling to get the recommended seven to eight hours at night, learning to power nap during the day can be a great way to boost both our brains and our mood.

"I would recommend taking 10 to 20 minutes, during which you allow your body to totally relax, ideally in the afternoon when energy levels dip."

People who only sleep up to four hours a night, or who wake up regularly throughout the night, are more at risk of developing dementia.

Restless nights are thought to trigger the formation of "plaques" on the brain which are linked to Alzheimer's disease.

Previous studies have already shown that disrupted sleep is common in people with the condition and could play a role in developing the disease.

This comes after it was revealed over a third of men can't sleep due to health worries.