The bored men showed a lack of imagination, and their erotic drives withered from tedium. PICTURE: Supplied

Being prone to boredom can also make men a flop in bed, according to German sexologists. 

A study of more than 1 000 men in relationships found those who scored high on boredom tests were likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

The problem was not primarily physical, says the 2015 report in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The bored men showed a lack of imagination, and their erotic drives withered from tedium.

Worse still, people may find themselves truly "bored to death", a long-running study of more than 7 500 civil servants showed. In the mid-Eighties, epidemiologists at University College London asked them to rate daily levels of boredom. In 1999, researchers followed up subsequent health records.

"Those who had reported a great deal of boredom were more likely to die during follow-up than those not bored at all," says the report in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2010. The difference was largely made up of deaths from heart attacks.

It may not have been boredom itself that killed them. The researchers found the easily bored were more likely to smoke, binge-drink and take drugs. They also generally showed less intelligence — essentially, boredom leads the unimaginative to bad habits.

Yet there is an upside to being bored, depending on the type of boredom. A study led by Thomas Goetz, an educational scientist at the University of Konstanz, Germany, identified five types: indifferent, calibrating, searching, reactant and apathetic.

Writing in the journal Motivation and Emotion in 2013 Professor Goetz claimed that while we experience all kinds of boredom, and might switch between them, we each tend to specialise in one.

Reactant boredom is most harmful: this is characterised by intense negative feelings which make people restless, angry and stressed. Meanwhile, indifferent boredom could be beneficial. In this state we are not doing anything particularly satisfying, but feel calm, so can start daydreaming and thinking creatively.

Dr Sandi Mann, a psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire and a pioneering boredom researcher, agrees boredom can be beneficial. "All emotions have a purpose, but anything in excess is bad. Boredom is similar to stress in this,’ she told Good Health.

"When people are chronically bored long-term, it can have negative consequences. Students most prone to boredom are more likely to skip lessons. As adults, they are more likely to quit jobs."

Conversely, short-term boredom — what Dr Mann calls "downtime" — can provide an opportunity for us to develop inner resources to become more creative, she says.

In 2014, Dr Mann asked 80 volunteers to think creatively, inventing as many uses as possible for two polystyrene cups. Beforehand, half the group did a boring task: copying numbers from a phone book.

The study, in the Creativity Research Journal, found those who endured the dull task thought up many more uses for the cups.

Dr Mann, who never plays the radio in the car, believes trying to fend off boredom with electronic devices can actually make us more easily prone to becoming bored.

"We become reliant on passive forms of stimulation and lose the ability to go off in our minds."

She has begun a campaign, "Switch off to switch on", to encourage people to have one day a week off their devices.