Poor sleep and mental health interlinked

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Published on October 10th, 2016 | by Sasha Muir


Poor sleep and mental health interlinked

Monday (10Oct16) is World Mental Health Day, a vital calendar date that highlights the plight of those suffering from mental illness.

It also importantly reminds the world that mental health can affect anybody, with the World Health Organisation stating “if we don’t act urgently, by 2030 depression will be the leading illness globally.”

While there are many factors that can lead to mental illness, from genetics to substance abuse, new research has also interlinked poor sleep with mental health issues.

A study released by digital medicine company Big Health found that insomnia affects approximately 69 percent of adults with depression. Poor sleep also increases the risk of developing anxiety and depression, and also acts as a barrier to successful treatment.

For its World Sleep Survey, British respondents revealed that a bad night’s sleep negatively impacted numerous parts of their life, with energy levels (60 percent), mood (48 percent), relationships with other people (35 per cent) and physical health (28 per cent) the most affected.

On a professional level, participants reported problems with concentration (46 percent), ability to complete work (38 percent) and staying awake during the day (27 percent).

Despite the high figures, 60 percent of those surveyed had not consulted their doctors about poor ep.

Big Health backs Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a way to overcome insomnia, and has created its own program called Sleepio, which has been clinically proven to improve sleep.

In a separate study looking into the National Health Service’s (NHS) IAPT offerings (Improving access to psychological therapies), and its own online Sleepio plan, it was found that 68 percent of patients with mild to moderate depression and anxiety moved to recovery following treatment from online CBT program Sleepio. This compares with a recovery rate of 45 percent for patients using other NHS psychological services.

Sleepio provides personalized, evidence-based CBT techniques and support.

“It’s important that we recognize the widespread effects poor sleep has on our lives,” Professor Colin Espie, co-founder of Big Health and professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford, told Cover Media.

“Sleep affects us on various levels – mentally, emotionally and physically – so when we have had no or insufficient sleep, we feel the consequences both mentally and physically. Our emotional processing and mood deteriorate, as well as pain thresholds, immune functioning and our metabolism, all contributing to low-moods and irritability.”



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