Research Reveals Brits Lose 43 Nights Sleep Per Year Over Decision-Making

New research from leading insurer Aviva reveals that Brits lose almost 43 nights’ sleep a year worrying about making the right decision, the equivalent of an astounding 17 billion hours of lost sleep among UK adults.

To help the nation tackle its indecisiveness, Aviva has partnered with Katie Piper and behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings to launch the Aviva Decision School – an online teaching academy that trains people to overcome hesitancy to make decisions and life changes more easily and with confidence.

When it comes to life’s most difficult choices, getting divorced or ending a long-term relationship tops the list (31%) followed by buying a new home (29%) and relocating to a new country (27%). Others include changing job or career (27%), getting married (25%) and having/adopting a child (21%).

The emotional process of making a big decision can be daunting, with almost half of Brits (49%) feeling anxious when doing so, more than two-fifths (43%) getting stressed, and almost a third (32%) feeling overwhelmed.

In fact, three-fifths of Brits (60%) admit to putting off making a big decision, with almost a fifth (19%) doing so often and 16% delaying decisions very often. Deciding when to retire is the decision Brits take the longest over, taking on average ten months and seven days.

The Aviva Decision School is a free course available to the public. It is designed to help people learn the art of confident decision-making and break free from the shackles of procrastination as they grapple with everyday and life-changing choices they have to make in their lives. The curriculum of lessons and guidance covers various areas, especially targeted at making life choices with ease, including overcoming any related anxiety, making decisions under pressure, and trusting one’s instincts.

Almost a third of Brits put off making a big commitment due to difficulty trusting their instincts (32%); 24% delay as they overcome anxiety related to a particular decision; and 17% feel that they don’t have the right tools or expertise available to them.

The choices we make have a big impact on our lives, including financially. On average, Brits estimate they lose £421 a year due to indecisiveness, with 35–44-year-olds losing the most (£506). In fact, almost a fifth of Brits (19%) believe they’ve lost over £500 in a year due to being hesitant. More than one in 10 respondents (11%) have missed out on a job offer due to procrastinating, while 7% have missed out on buying a home or have had to buy a more expensive one as a result.

Alongside Katie Piper and behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings, the Aviva Decision School includes inspiring and practical advice and insights from a range of expert decision-makers from different fields:

  • Leroy Logan MBE – Former superintendent in the Metropolitan Police and founding member and former chairman of the Black Police Association. Logan was involved in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the inquiry into the killing of Damilola Taylor.
  • Vanessa O’Brien – Mountaineer, explorer, author, and former business executive. In 2020, O’Brien became the first woman to reach Earth’s highest and lowest points, receiving a Guinness World Record.

Raj Kumar, Corporate Reputation director at Aviva, said: ‘Our research shows that the majority of us struggle with decision-making at various stages of our lives and, as a result, we Brits are no strangers to procrastination. We know the last 18 months have really made many people rethink their priorities, which has led to some challenging decision-making.’

That’s why it felt like just the right time for us to launch the Aviva Decision School with Katie and Jo – to help the nation tackle its issues with indecision and provide people with the practical tools they need to make decisions with ease.’

Behavioural psychologist, Jo Hemmings, said: ‘Making decisions – and avoiding them – can have a huge impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as our relationships, finances and a host of other factors. It’s natural for many of us to feel overwhelmed regarding life’s more difficult decisions. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to be alone in making them. The Aviva Decision School addresses a host of topics, from overcoming anxiety or procrastination to dealing with pressure and trusting your instincts.’

Author, philanthropist & presenter Katie Piper said: ‘Life can bring many opportunities and challenges, sometimes difficult to navigate. Being part of the Aviva Decision School has been a wonderful opportunity and has allowed me to reflect on decisions I’ve made throughout my life and professional career. It’s been a pleasure to work alongside Aviva, Jo and our inspiring decision-makers to share advice and help instil confidence in decision-making.’

Top 15 most difficult decisions to make 

  • Getting divorced or ending a long-term relationship – 31%
  • Buying a new home – 29%
  • Relocating to a new country – 27%
  • Changing job or career – 27%
  • Getting married – 25%
  • Having or adopting a child – 21%
  • Moving in with a partner – 20%
  • Relocating to a new city – 20%
  • Caring for a family member – 19%
  • Where to invest money – 15%
  • Deciding when to retire – 13%
  • Choosing a pension – 10%
  • School choices – 8%
  • Pursuing further education and choosing a degree (or deciding not to do so) – 8%
  • Getting a pet – 7%

Life decisions Brits spend the most time procrastinating in months 

  • Deciding when to retire – 10 months, 7 days
  • Getting married – 8 months, 29 days
  • Getting divorced or ending a long-term relationship – 8 months, 26 days
  • Relocating to a new country – 7 months, 14 days
  • Having or adopting a child – 7 months, four days
  • Buying a new home (house/flat) – 6 months, 29 days
  • Changing job or career – 6 months, 28 days
  • Moving in with a partner – 6 months, 9 days
  • Relocating to a new city – 6 months, 2 days
  • Choosing a pension – 5 months, 19 days
  • Pursuing further education and choosing a degree – 5 months, 12 days
  • Getting a pet – 5 months
  • School choices – 4 months, 19 days
  • Where to invest money – 4 months, 13 days
  • Caring for a family member –4 months, 6 days

Top reasons why decision-making is difficult at a particular age 

  • Uncertainty about the future – 46%
  • General life experience – 39%
  • People don’t know what they want/need – 35%
  • Financial pressure – 35%
  • Family commitments – 25%
  • People are short of time to do research – 15%