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We are facing a rise in mental health problems 'caused by poor sleep'

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.

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.’

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