More than half the population claims to suffer from ‘nomophobia’ – the fear of being without a mobile phone, a study suggests.

Women are apparently far more likely to experience the anxiety than men.

Consumers are now so dependent on their gadgets that one fifth of mobile phone owners check their emails in bed and nearly half take their devices to the beach while on holiday.

Some 54 per cent of people say they worry about being ‘out of mobile phone contact’ – with women 17 per cent more likely to suffer from ‘nomophobia’ than men, the survey revealed.

It showed 28 per cent of people will also look at their work emails while away from home, with men slightly more eager to check their emails than women.

A quarter of people even consult their phones during a dinner date.

But only 50 per cent of people bother to secure their devices with a password, the study commissioned by web security firm AppRiver found.

‘It’s pretty clear that we’re a society totally reliant on our phones not only for personal use but business use too,; said Fred Touchette, senior security analyst at AppRiver.

‘What worries me is that, with so much information stored on them – confidential office documents, contact details, emails, photos and bank log-ins – when these devices get lost or stolen and end up in the wrong hands, the information is so easily exploited.’

He advised phone owners to protect their gadgets with a password or encryption.

The study of 1,000 workers was conducted by OnePoll in August.