Government urged to ‘wake up’ to the importance of good sleep as a public health priority

The government has been given “a wake-up call” on the need to promote the importance of good sleep, and good sleep hygiene, as part of its public health agenda.

The Sleep Council and The Sleep Charity in March launched what they termed the “Wake Up Call” sleep manifesto, which called on the government to include sleep within its Change4Life public health initiative and to promote sleep as being as important to good health as diet and exercise.

The two bodies are also urging individuals, businesses and organisations to promote good sleep among employees, students or the wider community by pledging their support for a “Charter for Sleep Equality”.

The manifesto highlighted that sleep deprivation is expected to cost the nation £47bn by 2030, that some 200,000 working days a year are being lost in the UK because of insufficient sleep, and that £50m is spent by the NHS in England each year to ensure that the one in three adults affected by insomnia gets a good night’s sleep.

It outlined three calls to action:

  • greater understanding and recognition of the impact sleep issues have on individuals, families and societies;
  • a right to support at the earliest possible stage for those with sleep issues; and
  • high-quality support, underpinned by government policy, to be made available for those with sleep issues.

Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council said: “We believe this is the most significant call ever made on the government to take sleep seriously. In the same way that we have seen public health campaigns around the importance of diet and exercise, we believe the time has come for Westminster to act on promoting and supporting good sleep.

“Sleep is as vital to survival as food and water but is not yet taken as seriously. We believe if steps are taken to improve peoples’ sleep, we can make a transformational difference to the lives and wellbeing of the nation.”

Vicki Dawson of The Sleep Charity added: “Lack of sleep has an enormous impact on the lives of people, their families and wider society. We believe it is therefore imperative for the government to produce a long-term strategy – with spending commitments – that will increase awareness on a wide scale about the importance of sleep.”

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