We all know a poor night’s sleep can make you feel groggy in the morning, but the long-term impacts of frequently sleeping badly could be much more serious.
Experts have warned of an upcoming rise in mental health problems caused by sleep issues, in the results of a new study.
The study, which surveyed 203 healthcare professionals and was conducted by Perrigo, found that 85% of the experts – including doctors and pharmacists – say poor sleep has a ‘significant impact’ on the mental health of patients.
The problem is set to get worse, as 84% believe sleep-related issues in the UK will become even more widespread in the next five years.
The healthcare professionals cited social media ‘addiction’, excessive use of smartphones and financial concerns, as likely having the most negative impact on sleeping habits during the next five years.
When it comes to improving self-care, seven in 10 healthcare experts say a reluctance among patients to acknowledge sleep-related issues is acting as a blocker.
Further research proved this to be true, as fewer than half of consumers say they consider the impact of their sleep habits on their mental health. So, we are just not taking our sleep seriously.
Sleep habits include what time you go to bed, your sleeping environment, lifestyle choices, and how long you look at a screen before bed.
In this research, people reported increased levels of stress (33%), anxiety (34%) and low mood (42%) after a bad night’s sleep.
How to get a good night’s sleep
Struggling to drift off? Here are some expert tips from GP Dr Amir Khan:
Go to bed at the same time every night
‘It’s important that you listen to [your] body clock,’ the GP explained. ‘Go to bed at the same time every night, whether you’re tired or not.’
He added: ‘Over time, your body will get used to that sleep cycle again,’ and suggested aiming for six to eight hours in bed.
Make your bedroom as relaxing as possible
Dr Amir pointed out that the room where you sleep should be a soothing space, which sometimes means rethinking what you have in there.
If you’re working from home, he suggests removing anything that reminds you of work.
Make sure the temperature is right
The temperature for getting a good night’s sleep is actually lower than you might imagine, with Dr Amir suggesting about 16 to 18 degrees.
Have a warm drink or bath/shower
Dr Amir pointed out that a warm milky drink actually does help to relax you.
Also, having a warm bath or shower a couple of hours before you go to bed can help.
Limit your screen time before bed
Most of us know that the blue light from our phones can mimic daylight, and may prevent the body releasing melatonin, the hormone which aids sleep.
But it’s still difficult to switch off.
If you’re struggling, charge your phone overnight in another room, or set a timer when you need to turn it off. Try to immerse yourself in a good book before bed instead, or listen to some calming music.
But, most consumers (61%) say they would find it hard to change their sleep patterns or habits.
This comes despite four in 10 Brits admitting to having had ‘consistently poor or very poor sleep’ since coronavirus lockdown restrictions eased this summer.
Anant Naik, spokesperson for Mental Health UK, says: ‘This is a really worrying trend that we expect to impact a vast number of people over the coming years.
‘Sleep and mental health are intrinsically linked – poor mental health can impact sleep, and a lack of sleep can cause and exacerbate mental health problems including anxiety and depression.
‘Sleep needs to be taken far more seriously as a way to help treat and prevent mental health problems.
‘Although improving sleep habits is often seen as difficult to achieve, the good news is that there are lots of simple habits you can start building to improve your sleeping patterns. This can include keeping to a consistent bedtime routine, putting tech away before bed, creating a restful environment in your room, and keeping a sleep diary.
‘We also need to address the factors in our lives that keep us up at night such as financial worries and stress. For serious or persistent sleep issues, make sure you visit your GP.’Credit: Original article published here.