We all do it! We spend a third of our lives doing it… and yet, when a good night’s sleep has become elusive, our mental and physical health are badly affected. Sleep is an essential, involuntary process. It is as important for our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing. It is vital for maintaining good mental health. Sleep is restorative and helps repair and renew our brains as well as our bodies.
For those who are experiencing poor sleep over a sustained period this will be leading to a number of problems including fatigue, sleepiness, poor concentration, lapses in memory and irritability. As you can imagine, the effect of poor sleep on people’s work, home and social life can have serious implications.
Long-term poor sleepers are seven times more likely to feel helpless than good sleepers. Are five times more likely to feel alone but also twice as likely to have relationship problems and suffer daytime fatigue and lack of concentration.*
We all need to make sure that we are prioritising the sleep of our family members and ourselves, to get the right amount of sleep, as well as the right quality of sleep. We are all individuals with varying lengths of sleep needed. Some people require more than others. Quality of sleep means that we need the right type in the right balance.
Sleep is a more complex process than many people realise. The good news is that we are making new discoveries through enlightened research. The developments of new technologies are enabling us to see the workings of the brain and body like never before.
We can all benefit from improving the quality of our sleep. For many of us, it may simply be a case of making small lifestyle or attitude adjustments in order to help us sleep better. For those with insomnia it can be necessary to seek more specialist treatment.
Psychological approaches are useful because they can encourage us to establish good sleep patterns and to develop a healthy, positive mental outlook about sleep, as well as dealing with worrying thoughts towards sleeping.
* Findings from Sleepio, Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi), University of Oxford.