One in five workers take sickies due to tiredness, a sixth sleep on the train and 11% fall asleep at their desk or in meetings, poll shows

Sleep could hold the key for employees wanting to get ahead in their career and get ahead of the competition.

Tiredness leads to six million sick days a year, according to a new survey, at a cost of 611 million to the UK economy.

Researchers are now looking for 10 people to take part in a four-week sleep clinic to try to tackle the problem. Workers can follow the study online to access advice and information about getting a good night's sleep and starting work with a clear head.

One in five workers has taken a "sickie" because of a lack of sleep the night before, the online poll of 2,044 people showed. Only 13% of respondents in the Silentnight survey said they sleep well, with a third (32%) of those who do not blaming the thought of having to get up early the next day. Money or work stress was the cause of sleeplessness for a quarter of participants (26%).

A sixth of employees catch up on missed sleep on public transport, while 4% have fallen asleep in a meeting and 7% at their desk.

Almost half of workers surveyed (44%) said they did not have regular lie-ins either during the week or at weekends, only managing 30 minutes when they did.

Respondents said lack of sleep affected their concentration, made them grumpy and triggered arguments with loved ones.

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, who is leading the Silentnight sleep clinic, said: "Sleep is crucial to our health and well-being and it is clear from the findings that lack of quality sleep is making a real impact on people's lives - from absence from work, decreased concentration levels and arguments in the home."

The doctor said a few simple steps can help ensure good quality sleep, including eating the right foods, creating a peaceful zone to go to bed in, unwinding, and shutting off from social media an hour before bedtime.

"The Sleep Clinic is aimed at educating people across the UK that a few simple techniques can help the nation get a great night's sleep every night," said Dr Ramlakhan.

Copyright Press Association 2013