Lack of sleep needs to be treated as a major health issue, according to a report published by the Mental Health Foundation.
The report, Sleep Matters, suggests a link between insomnia and poor relationships, low energy levels and an inability to concentrate.
Poor sleep has already been linked to depression, immune deficiency and heart disease.
The report calls for GPs to have more training to recognise the symptoms.
The number of adults suffering from insomnia in the UK has previously been estimated at around 30%.
Nearly 6,800 people took part in an online survey, believed to be the largest of its type in the UK, for this report.
’Poor sleep, poor health’
It was more likely to attract participants concerned about their sleep and is not representative of the whole of the UK.
However, it does show a gulf in the experiences of good sleepers and insomniacs.
It showed people with insomnia were four times as likely to have relationship problems, three times as likely to feel depressed and three times as likely to suffer from a lack of concentration.
Dr Dan Robotham, senior researcher at the Mental Health Foundation and lead author of the report, believes people can get stuck in a spiral where poor sleep leads to mental health problems which leads to even worse sleep.
He said: "It is crucial that people are aware of the effective ways of breaking that spiral by improving the quality of their sleep.
"Employers, schools and public health bodies also need to know how they can identify and support people suffering from sleep disorders."
Professor Colin Espie, director of the Glasgow University Sleep Centre, said: "We can no longer just ignore the impact of sleep problems in this country. They are affecting our health, our economy, and our everyday happiness."
January 27, 2011