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Asleep at the wheel? Thousands of UK small business owners hit by insomnia in lockdown

2-minute read

Simply Business

Simply Business

11 February 2021

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Asleep at the wheel? Thousands of UK small business owners hit by insomnia in lockdown

  • Study finds 2 in 5 (39%) SME owners suffering from major sleep problems during Covid -19 crisis
  • Small business insurance provider Simply Business discover that Covid-19 is causing 63% of self-employed people to lose sleep
  • Half (51%) of SME owners claim that poor sleep has affected their mental health in the last 12 months
  • Over a quarter (27%) of SME owners scraping by on just five hours of sleep a night

Two in five (39%) SME owners say the stress of Covid-19 has caused them to experience sleep problems or insomnia, according to a new study from small business insurer Simply Business.

The study, which spoke to 765 small business owners, found that two in five (43%) SME owners say Covid-19 is causing them to get 1-2 hours less sleep a night, while one in five (20%) say they’re now getting 2-3 hours less sleep a night.

More than half (51%) of self-employed people claim that poor sleep patterns have affected their mental health in the last 12 months, as the research reveals SME owners are in the midst of a Covid-19 induced sleep crisis.

The study also shockingly revealed that over a quarter (27%) of SME owners are getting by on a mere five hours sleep a night.

These findings should raise particular concerns for the wellbeing of the UK workforce, with numerous academic studies showing that regularly getting less sleep than the recommended amount can have a huge impact on your health and even make you three times more likely to catch a viral infection.

Just 6% of SME owners say they have been able to use lockdown as an opportunity to increase their sleep levels or improve their sleep.

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, comments: “Small business owners have been among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis – both financially and mentally. With the self-employed facing unprecedented challenges, our latest study highlights a huge deterioration in the wellbeing of an audience who are so important to our collective recovery.

“It is also clear that this period is having a major impact on the sleep quality of small business owners. That 63% are losing sleep due to the pressures of the pandemic – and 1 in 4 run their business on a mere five hours sleep a night – should be of concern to us all.

“Insuring over 800,000 small businesses and landlords helps us understand the unique challenges that they face as a result of Covid-19.

“And following the findings of this study, we’ve partnered with a range of experts – including those at Hilding Anders, a leading sleep and wellness group – to develop bespoke tips and support services on our Better for Business wellbeing hub.

“We hope that by shining a light on this important issue and offering free, expert advice, we can do our bit to support an audience who are so important to our economy, communities, and collective recovery.”

Sanjay Verma, Chief Sleep Officer at sleep, health and wellness group Hilding Anders comments: “It is clear from today's findings that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a major negative impact on the sleep quality of UK SME owners. The Simply Business data shows that almost 40% of business owners have reported sleep problems during the pandemic, with 51% saying disrupted sleep has had an impact on their mental health. Clearly this is going to have an impact on their performance at work but perhaps more concerning, it can impact their body's natural immunity – several studies have shown that sleep deprivation has a direct link to susceptibility to viral infection.

“We are all trying to navigate uncertain times, but we must do all we can to safeguard our sleep. Some of the easiest ways to separate work & life when spending a lot of time at home is to create clear boundaries between your work and leisure space. Taking simple steps such as building in daily exercise, getting some early morning sunlight to reset your body clock or simply have a rule where you are off your screen for at least 1 hour before going to bed can be hugely beneficial to creating these boundaries and as a result, assisting you in getting better sleep.”

Simply Business has launched its Better for Business wellbeing hub for SME owners – working with a range of experts to bring free tailored resources and wellbeing tips to the self-employed.


For further information, please contact:

Frank PR
[email protected]

Data: Survey of 765 small business owners from across the UK, conducted December - January 2020

About Simply Business

Simply Business is one of the UK’s biggest business insurance providers, specialising in public liability insurance for SMEs and insuring over 900,000 small businesses and landlords across Britain.

Launched in 2005, Simply Business provides an online brokerage service, delivering policies tailored to individual business requirements. Using the power of tech and data to create the best possible customer experiences, Simply Business employs over 800 people across offices in London, Northampton, and Boston in the US.

Owing to its internal underwriting capability, Simply Business can cover over 1,000 trade types – ranging from plumbers to accountants to dog walkers. An accredited B Corp for their positive social impact, Simply Business has also been voted the Sunday Times Best Company To Work For twice in a row.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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