Nearly half of adults suffering mentally because of poor sleep

Millions of people in the UK feel that poor sleep is negatively affecting their mental health every night.

A report by the Mental Health Foundation has concluded almost half (48%) of UK adults aged 18 and above feel sleeping badly is having a negative effect on their mental health.

The report, Taking Sleep Seriously: Sleep and our Mental Health, found more than a third of adults (35%) said sleeping poorly had made them feel more anxious.

A separate study over the summer by the ESRC Centre for Population Change at Southampton University highlighted that the stress and anxiety of the pandemic has led to a surge in sleep loss and sleep deprivation this year.

The Mental Health Foundation study concluded that more than four in 10 (42%) said poor sleep over the previous month had made them feel more stressed and overwhelmed – while about the same proportion (43%) said poor sleep had made them feel more irritable and angry.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of teenagers (66%) aged 13-19 also agreed poor sleep had a negative effect on their mental health.

Catherine Seymour, head of research at the foundation, said: “There are many things we can do as individuals to improve our sleep. But it is essential that we take a whole-society approach if we want to tackle poor sleep in a comprehensive and effective way. That is why are asking the government to make the prevention and treatment of sleep problems a key priority in their mental health and wellbeing strategies.”

Among its recommendations, the report suggested employers should consider conditions in the workplace that undermine sleep health in the same way as they consider physical and other psychological hazards.

For those working nightshifts, mandatory health assessments should include screening for sleep problems and, where possible, flexible and home working should be offered to employees, it added.

Separately, the mental health charity Mind urged the government to do more to support people with mental health problems as England went into its second national lockdown in November, saying it was seeing a massive increase in calls to its information line.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: “There is an urgent need for a ‘Winter Mental Health Support Package’ now from the government. This must include access to face-to-face and online mental health services for those who need it.

“Far too many people aren’t getting the support they need, resulting in increased strain on the NHS and more people ending up in crisis,” he added.

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