On April 1st of this year (2016), The Daily Mail Newspaper published a story claiming that ‘British people [are] missing out on a day’s sleep every week’, and unfortunately unlike many of the stories published on the same day, this one was no April Fool’s gag. Rather, the headline was the result of and its validity attested to studies carried out by The Royal Society of Public Health. Whilst this might come as no shock to the average British person, the RSPH is so concerned by the findings of its research that it has ‘called on the Government to introduce national sleep guidance’.
It is unclear yet whether the UK government will (or are willing even to consider) publishing a guide as to how to get a great night’s sleep, or even just a full one, but the fact that British people’s sleeping habits are once again hitting the news for being so poor is proof in itself that this is a topic affecting many of us. But why does it matter that here in the UK we take getting an earlier night more seriously?
To try and answer that question, let us take look exactly what poor sleeping habits and scrimping on our z’s could mean for us.
Weight, Diabetes and Physical Health
Bedding expert retailers, Sleepy People, a while ago published via their blog coverage of studies which found ‘sleep research has shown that one of the consequences of sleep deprivation is that it can cause you to feel hungry’. Further, the article explains that more worrying than simply experiencing an increase in appetite, that the sleep deprived are far more likely to reach for the biscuit tin than fruit bowl. Couple this with the reality that poor sleep has long been linked to an elevated risk of diabetes and the fact that those who head to bed later on average also consume an additional ‘248 calories per day’ and the prognosis for all the insomniacs out there is not looking good.
What Can You Do?
Head up to bed an hour early (avoiding the kitchen on the way) and you stand to benefit not just from an extra hour in bed, or lowering your risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack, but by saving yourself from midnight feasting.
Depression, Mental Health and Wellbeing
Mental health problems are a leading cause of insomnia. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep in turn worsens many mental health conditions, including depression. In fact, according to the information published on the Sleep Foundation website, ‘evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well’.
In many more and less extreme or long term cases, poor sleeping habits and insomnia can still have a detrimental effect on a person’s emotional and mental wellbeing. It is no secret a sleepless night can leave the most happy go lucky individual feeling anything but optimistic about the day ahead, but often people fail to realise it could be skimping on sleep that is impacting on their long term wellbeing, which is often why so many of us simply ‘soldier on’, often until we are so exhausted that we leave ourselves susceptible to far more serious mood-related disorders.
What Can You Do?
Whilst there is no single known cause for depression and mental health is complex, there are things you can do to lower your chances of suffering from conditions such as depression, and establishing and maintaining healthy sleep habits is one of them.