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Sleep Health 2020

Sleep is the unsung hero of mental health

iStock - Getty Images Plus / David-Prado

Mark Rowland

Chief Executive, the Mental Health Foundation

Many of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep regularly, which is having a knock-on effect on the way we feel emotionally and psychologically.

Sleep can affect our physical and mental health

If you’ve ever gone without sleep or had too little sleep for a long period of time, then you will know what a big difference it can make to your life, including how you feel emotionally. 

As the quality and quantity of our sleep has declined, millions of us are living with poorer levels of physical and mental health as a result.

Research carried out at the Mental Health Foundation suggests that sleeping well is one of the single most important things people can do to look after their emotional wellbeing.  How well we sleep can influence our mental health, and our mental health can influence how well we sleep. In fact, sleep is the unsung hero of mental health.

There are lots of reasons why we don’t sleep well. We may have busy schedules, feel worried and anxious, care for young children or adults, look at our phones for too long, work shifts, or live in noisy neighbourhoods.

Perhaps you’ve tried to follow sleep hygiene advice, but it hasn’t worked. Maybe you struggle with sleep and don’t know why. 

Improving, or looking after, our mental health is about more than individual behaviour changes. Workplaces, education and healthcare policy all have a role to play in prioritising good sleep, and with it, mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week

The Mental Health Foundation is going to focus on sleep during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 18-24 May.

The week – which has been running for 20 years – is the largest event of its kind in the world and will provide information and advice, while campaigning for the changes that can help to improve wellbeing and recovery.

And this includes sleep. With poor sleep, we may be just about surviving but not really thriving. The reality is that, most of us are not sleeping well because of circumstances that are beyond our control.

During Mental Health Awareness Week we will be releasing new research into the factors that connect sleep and our mental health.  We will be polling different age groups about their attitudes to sleep and how much sleep they have.

The Mental Health Foundation wants to start a national conversation about how we can all sleep better, and uncover the hidden mental health costs of the poor sleep that affects so many of us. We want to investigate the changes we must make as individuals, communities and as a society, to all get the rest we need!

Be part of that conversation; keep an eye on our website for more details nearer to the time.

The Mental Health Foundation is the home of Mental Health Awareness Week. Our vision is good mental health for all and prevention is at the heart of what we do. We use our knowledge, informed by rigorous research and practical study, to inform and work with policy-makers, communities, companies, the general public and others about how best to foster good mental health. We have pioneered change for 70 years and are not afraid to challenge the status quo.

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