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World Sleep Day - celebrating an essential ingredient to good mental health

Sleep is a crucial element for human health and wellbeing, both physical and mental. Today is World Sleep Day, a great time to explore some good habits to help us sleep better, and the impact this can have when we don’t get enough shut-eye.

Studies show that 35% of people do not feel that they get enough sleep*

Insomnia affects 30-45% of the adult population**

We spend around a third of our lives asleep, it’s a basic human need, like eating or drinking. When we don’t get enough sleep, our physical health can be impacted, associated with issues like obesity, diabetes, immune system disorders and even cancers.

However, sleep is equally important when it comes to promoting good mental health too. Those who have insomnia have been shown to have greater levels of mental health issues – 10 times more likely to have clinical depression and 17 times more likely to have anxiety. (

On the other hand, when we are having mental health difficulties, this can in turn affect the quality and quantity of sleep. Anxiety can cause thoughts to race, which then makes sleep more challenging; psychosis can make sleep difficult as people may hear voices or see things that are frightening. And mania can cause elation which makes people less tired and less susceptible to signals for sleep.

The good news is that, in addition to support and treatment for any underlying mental health issues, there are some useful ‘sleep hygiene’ factors that can aid restful sleep:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day – this programmes the body to sleep better in the long-run.

  • Have a “no-tech 90” – 90 mins of screen free time before bedtime helps you to switch off and reduce exposure to blue light which can keep us awake.

  • Avoid alcohol – as this has been proven to disrupt sleep quality.

  • Cut down on caffeine after midday – why not try a cup of warm milk or herbal tea before bed.

  • Exercise 3 times a week, but not just before bedtime – exercise aids sleep quality, but can be detrimental if you’re trying to go to sleep straight afterwards.

  • Wind down before bed – try a bath, read a book or meditate.

  • Keep your room dark, cool and uncluttered – a clear and cool space helps us to concentrate only on sleep.

The Mental Health Foundation also have some additional tips for a better night’s sleep on their website.

If you’d like to get more involved in supporting others’ mental health, get in touch to find out more about our in-house training courses for your business. Alternatively, join one of our MHFA-affiliated Mental Health Champion/First Aider courses. Contact Deanne Walsh at or call 07832 615751.

*(Yu Y, Lu BS, Wang B, Wang H, Yang J, Li Z, Wang L, Liu X, Tang G, Xing H, Xu X, Zee PC, Wang X. Short sleep duration and adiposity in Chinese adolescents. 2007 Dec 1;30(12):1688-97)

**( Wade AG, Zisapel N, Lemoine P. Prolonged-release melatonin for the treatment of insomnia: targeting quality of sleep and morning alertness. Ageing Health 2008; 4 (1): 11-12)

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