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What’s keeping the nation awake? Secrets of Living Well revealed in landmark study

The inaugural Sainsbury’s Living Well Index, based on a nationally representative study into how Britons feel about their quality of life, reveals the factors associated with living well – and uncovers significant gaps. Sleep quality has the strongest association with Britons’ quality of life – for the typical Brit, improving their sleep to the level of those who are living best would be equivalent to them having more than four times as much disposable income. In addition, factors like connections with those closest to us are also found to be strong indicators of a life well lived.

The Index, created by Sainsbury’s in partnership with leading researchers Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social research, aims to define, measure and track what it really means to live well in the UK today. It has been commissioned to help the retailer understand and engage on the aspects of everyday life that are holding people back.

In the first study of its kind, researchers asked a nationally representative panel of 8,250 people questions covering 60 different aspects of their behaviour, how they live and how they feel. The Index covers everything from their support networks and relationships with friends, families and communities, to how people feel about their jobs, their quality of sleep and the strength of their finances. The same panel will be questioned every six months, enabling Sainsbury’s and researchers to track the effects of how we live on how we feel, individually and as a nation, as well as providing unique insights into the lives of Britons today.

The average Briton has a Living Well score of 62.2 out of a maximum of 100. Those living best are defined as the 20 per cent of the population with the highest scores – falling between 72 and 92. By comparing the lifestyles and behaviours of those living best in Britain with the typical Briton, the Sainsbury’s Living Well Index has revealed the critical factors behind living well.

Income has surprisingly little impact on how we feel. For the typical Brit, a 50 per cent rise in disposable income contributes to just a 0.5 point increase in their Living Well score.

In contrast, controlling for age, income, or personal health, a good night’s sleep has the strongest association with how well we feel we are living. Over time, the research aims to understand the big gaps dividing the nation, and whether associations are causal.

Ian Mulheirn, Director of Consulting at Oxford Economics, said: “Wellbeing is rising up the agenda at a time of rapid change in how we live our lives, and we’ve created a critical new tool that can help us to unpick what’s driving our sense of living well, drawing on a unique, rolling survey of unprecedented breadth and granularity. The analysis within the Sainsbury’s Living Well Index reveals that, in a world that’s never been more connected, the richness of our relationships and support networks remains among the biggest determinants of how well we live – and represents an area of our lives in which we can act.”

Five factors that separate a typical person from those living best:

1.A Good Night’s Sleep: With a typical Briton only feeling rested after sleep ‘some of the time’, our research has shown that sleep quality can explain 3.8 points of difference between their Living Well score and those who are living best in the top 20% of the Index. For the typical Brit, improving their sleep to the level of someone at the top of the Index would be equivalent to them having over four times as much disposable income.

Sleep was the strongest indicator of a broader sense of wellbeing, controlling for other factors. The majority of those with the highest Living Well scores reported feeling well rested most of the time (60 per cent), whilst over half of those in the bottom 20 per cent of the Index said that they rarely, or never, felt well rested.

2.Sex Life Satisfaction: Across the population as a whole, just over a third (35 per cent) said they were fairly or very satisfied with their sex lives. Once again, these individuals were disproportionately likely to be found at the top of the Living Well Index – with almost two thirds (63 per cent) of those at the top saying that they were satisfied with their sex life, twice the national average.

3.Job Security: For the typical Briton, their perceived level of job security is another important differentiator to those living best, suggesting that the peace of mind this can bring contributes significantly to how well we feel we live. Among working people, 43 per cent of those with the highest Index scores also experience a very high degree of job security, almost twice the national average.  Overall, job security explained a 1.8 point gap between the typical working Brit and those living best.

4.Health of Close Relatives: For the typical person, worries about the health of close relations emerges as a significant barrier to living very well. The analysis found that worries over the health of close relations contributes a difference of 1.75 points between the typical Briton and those living best.

5.Community connectedness: Stronger connections with the people we share a community with is an important factor for those who experience the highest quality of life in Britain. The analysis suggests that by enhancing the quality and strength of these local relationships, people could live happier, more satisfied lives. The typical person speaks to their neighbours once or twice a month. But doing so as much as people in the top 20 per cent of the Living Well Index – among whom almost 70% speak to neighbours once or twice a week – could add 1.6 points to their Index scores.

Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s CEO, said: “Our ambition is to help our customers to live well. We’ve launched the Sainsbury’s Living Well Index to help us better understand what ‘living well’ truly means to people across the UK today. The Index will help to inform how we run our business and will also help us uncover and engage more boldly on the issues that concern people most in their everyday lives.”

To better understand the results and seek guidance on what action can be taken on the key factors holding Britons back from Living Well, Sainsbury’s has formed the Living Well Advisory Group. This panel of experts will help the business understand how it can use its resources to improve the way in which colleagues, customers and the communities Sainsbury’s serves live.

In addition, on 27th September 2017, the retailer will convene the first Living Well Forum, bringing together 60 leading voices on the mental, physical, financial and social wellbeing of the nation. Delegates attending the Forum will discuss key issues facing households today and, supported by Sainsbury’s, will develop ideas for initiatives that can ultimately improve how well the nation is living.

To take part in a simplified version of the Sainsbury’s Living Well Index, get a personal Living Well score and to receive simple suggestions for actions to improve it, the public can go to The methodology of the Index is available on the Sainsbury’s website.

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