Two-thirds of us want more rest, Durham academics' study shows

Two-thirds of people feel they need more rest in their lives, according to a worldwide study.

Reading is among the most popular ways of resting, according to the study.
Reading is among the most popular ways of resting, according to the study.

The Rest Test, led by researchers from Durham University, involved more than 18,000 people from 134 different countries to investigate their resting habits and attitudes towards relaxation.

It found 68% of people wanted more rest while those who said they did not feel in need of more had well-being scores twice as high as those who did.

Dr Felicity Callard, principal investigator and social scientist at Durham University, said: "The survey shows that people's ability to take rest, and their levels of well-being, are related.

"We're delighted that these findings combat a common, moralising connection between rest and laziness."

The survey asked people to choose the activities they found the most restful, with the top five being reading, being in the natural environment, being on their own, listening to music and doing nothing in particular.

It also asked respondents to state how many hours rest they had within the last 24 hours, and the results showed that, on average, being younger and having a higher household income was associated with having fewer hours of rest.

Those with caring responsibilities or in shift work which included nights also reported fewer hours of rest.

"The average time spent resting by UK respondents the previous day was three hours and eight minutes.

Dr Callard said: "It's intriguing that the top activities considered restful are frequently done on one's own.

"Perhaps it's not only the total hours resting or working that we need to consider, but the rhythms of our work, rest and time with and without others."

The Rest Test is part of a wider collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and Hubbub, a collective of social scientists, artists, humanities researchers, broadcasters and mental health experts.