The 4.05am Wake-up Call: 32 million Brits wake up worrying about health

28 July 2017
  • Overdue dental check-ups, losing weight and tackling stress are top health tasks keeping Britain awake
  • Yet health related actions are bottom of the nation’s to-do list 
  • 4.05am is when night-time worriers wake

Britons are becoming a nation of night time worrywarts with more than three fifths  of the nation1 – that’s over 32million adults – waking up in the middle of the night thinking about a health concern that hasn’t been checked off of their to-do list, according to new data from Bupa Health Clinics.

The research identified 4.05am as the most common time for a ‘health wakeup call’, and it’s overdue dental check-ups (25%), losing weight (23%) and talking to someone about stress or a mental health issue (20%) that are disturbing the country’s sleep the most. Booking a GP appointment for a niggling symptom2  and getting a general health check-up3  complete the top five concerns, according to the research by Bupa Health Clinics, which surveyed over 4,000 people across the UK.

Worryingly, a fifth of Britons admit that general health tasks are the least likely area of ‘life’ to be checked off the to-do list, being frequently delayed instead. People are more likely to complete tasks related to work, their finances or relationships instead; meaning that paying in a cheque, asking for a pay-rise and even arranging a date will be prioritised over booking a GP appointment or scheduling in a health check.

However, it’s not hearing the potential outcome of medical appointments that’s putting people off, as almost half4  of respondents agree that there is just always something ‘more important’ to deal with in their busy lives.

Dr Luke James, Medical Director at Bupa Health Clinics says: “This research highlights that despite de-prioritising them, lingering health tasks can quickly go from being a simple reminder to book an appointment, to enough to keep you up at night – 59% percent of respondents struggle to nod off when they go to bed and are instead worrying about not giving their health the attention it needs.

“The issue is that persistent worrying can lead to further problems – blood pressure can go up and people can start suffering from things like heart palpitations. These are potentially more serious conditions, which can be much more difficult to bounce back from. It’s time for the nation to act, tick those actions off the list, and worry less.”

However, health-related ‘to-dos’ popping into our minds is not confined to the early hours - other common worry-moments are during the nation’s down time (19%), in the shower (7%) and on the daily commute (6%).

The research also revealed that people in Belfast are the most likely to be woken up by a nagging health related task, followed by people from Cardiff, then Bristolians, those from Edinburgh and lastly the residents of Glasgow.

From a more national perspective, health-related tasks pop into our heads an average of five times a week with the top ten concerns being:   

  1. A dental check up
  2. Losing weight
  3. Talking to someone about stress or a mental health concern
  4. Booking a GP appointment about a niggling symptom
  5. A general health assessment
  6. Treating aches and pains
  7. Getting a fly jab
  8. Getting a mole checked
  9. Giving up smoking
  10. Treating a skin related issue like psoriasis or eczema


Dr Luke James, Medical Director at Bupa Health Clinics, shares advice on how to put an end to the 4am wake-up call:

TIP 1: Use pester-power:
Enlist a close friend or relative that will ask you about your health. It can work two-ways - you can nudge each other to make those all-important appointments or enquiries.

TIP 2: Make it enjoyable:
Take yourself (and your to-do list) out for a coffee or breakfast once a month and work through your actions in a calm and enjoyable environment. You’ll soon stop thinking of it as another thing you ‘must’ do and instead look forward to the time you’ve given yourself and the peace of mind it gives you in return.

TIP 3: Give yourself a once over:
If you’ve been letting health tasks fall off the list, your worrying may start to escalate unnecessarily. To quickly regain peace of mind, book yourself a health MOT, giving all areas of concern a once over at the same time. A Bupa health assessment also includes a coaching follow up call from our experts which will help you stick to your goals and get those health-related tasks checked off the list.

With more than 50 Bupa Health Clinics across the country offering pay as you go health services, it’s easy to book appointments at a convenient time and place to ensure those health-related tasks are checked off the list. Offering health assessments, physiotherapy, dermatology, GP appointments and much more, Bupa Health Clinics can provide peace of mind and convenience for busy Brits, and you don’t need insurance to benefit.


The research surveyed 4,062 people over the age of 16 and was commissioned by Bupa Health Clinics and carried out by Censuswide in June 2017.
About Bupa Clinics:

  • With more than 50 Bupa health centres across the UK, we offer a range of trusted health services close to where people live and work.
  • Bupa clinics are open to everyone, whether you have Bupa insurance or not.
  • Our health and dental clinics offer a range of everyday health services from GP and physiotherapy appointments and health assessments to general, cosmetic and specialist dentistry.
  • Bupa’s range of health assessments give people a snapshot of their health and help them make informed
  • Your Health Assessor will also help you set relevant goals, give you access to the Bupa Boost app to keep you on track and your advisor will call you in the months following to coach and help you. You'll also have 24/7 access to a GP for a whole year for yourself and family who live with you.
  • Bupa clinics are on the high street across the country and offer: health assessments, health services like GP appointments, dental appointments including orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry, dermatology, physiotherapy, osteopathy and podiatry.


1  61% of Britons over 16
2  18.2% of Britons over 16
3  17.9% of Britons over 16
4  44% of Britons over 16

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

We have 15.5 million health insurance customers, provide healthcare to around 14.5 million people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 23,300 aged care residents.

We employ over 78,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland, and many more through our associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

Health insurance is around 70% of our business. In a number of countries, we also run clinics, dental centres, hospitals and care homes and villages.

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