Why sleep is a big deal

How much are you getting?


Why sleep is a big deal

How many hours' sleep did you get last night? Be honest — eight, seven, six… three?

We all know the recommended amount is eight hours, but realistically once we’ve finished watching that programme, put the kids to bed, checked our emails for the final time, few of us rarely get that elusive amount. A survey published today has revealed that sleep is more important than we might think.

The Mental Health Foundation’s Sleep Matters suvey has found that sleep-deprived people are more likely to have relationship difficulties, experience low mood, lack concentration and suffer from health problems. The charity described poor sleep as a ‘seriously neglected public health concern'. What particularly interested me, though, was what Professor Colin Espie, director of the Glasgow University sleep centre, said: ‘Sleep disorders can inhibit the very essence of who we are.’

Too true. I know that when I (occasionally) turn up to work with bags under my eyes, gulping coffee and living for my next facial spritz hit (they’re so refreshing), I don’t feel myself. Knowing that I’m not firing on all cylinders in turn makes me feel down.

‘While great emphasis is rightly placed on the importance of diet and exercise, sleep has been too long neglected as a major influence on the physical and mental health of the nation,' says Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation. 'With stress and longer working hours on the rise in the current economic climate, it is crucial that we now treat the issue of sleep problems.’

The survey, which has prompted  a major awareness campaign, found that sleep disorders can put sufferers at significantly greater risk of depression, anxiety, immune deficiency and heart disease.

Perhaps I will make a February resolution: spend one week committed to getting eight hours sleep a night and see how it effects my mood, health and, of course, energy levels.

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