Mortgages and high pressure keep city's house slaves awake at night
Beijing's "house slaves" - those people who work around the clock to pay off their mortgages - have the poorest quality of sleep in China, according to a report released on Wednesday.
The capital took the No 1 slot in the ranking of cities with people suffering from sleeping problems, followed by Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou.
The report, based on a survey of 50,000 residents nationwide, was jointly released by four institutions including the Chinese Medical Doctor Association and Ciming Checkup.
It said people in the five cities who are paying housing loans have poorer sleep than those who rent. But the specific statistics for Beijing have not yet been broken down, according to Tang Jian, a project manager of Ciming Checkup.
According to the report, nationwide, half of home owners polled said there are an average of five days each month when they sleep fewer than five hours. Nearly 34 percent of those who had bought homes said they were under great pressure.
"Honestly speaking, living in Beijing is not easy, especially for a man," said Wang Qi, 30, who has to spend 4,000 yuan, one-third of his salary, on the mortgage for his 70-square-meter apartment in Beijing's Haidian district.
Wang, who works for a computer company, said he sometimes has to work overtime until 11 pm and most people in his company have to be back in the office by 9 am the next day. "I feel as though having enough good quality sleep every day is an extravagance."
"We do that at least four times a month, which is widely accepted by us," he added.
Working overtime and entertaining clients in the evenings are the main reasons for the lack of good sleep.
Some of those with poor sleeping patterns are even resorting to pills, said the report.
Professor Yu Shibei, chief doctor at Ciming Checkup, said a healthy amount of sleep for an adult is between seven and nine hours a day.
"Compared with those who get plenty of sleep, those who are sleep-deprived age at three times the speed," he said. "Those who sleep fewer than four hours a day have double the mortality rate of those with healthy sleep."
Yu said poor sleep will also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
The report shows that only 20 percent of people who bought a home felt happy after doing so. Instead, more than 70 percent were anxious or depressed.
"That may be the result of the traditional Chinese belief that you should carve out your career after buying a home. To many people, a home not only means a family, but buying a house," said Han Xiaohong, president of Ciming Checkup.
The survey found that both renters and buyers were in agreement about the best way to let off steam when they feel pressured. Ninety percent said they self-adjust, rather than turn to doctors for help.
(China Daily 11/11/2010)