Sleep Matters

The World Health Organisation (2015), implies health is the state of complete mental, physical, and social wellbeing, with an absence of disease or illness, and is the reflection of the prevention of mental disorder and rehabilitation of the individual. Nearly a quarter of the population in the UK will suffer from a form of mental health problem, with depression being the most common emphasising the importance of self-care (Mental Health Foundation, 2014). This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which took place on 14th – 18th May 2020, Mental Health Foundation, the theme focused on the connection between sleep and mental health. Sleep is vital for the body to recover from our everyday activities. Fundamentally, interrupted sleep can impact upon the mental concentration and capacity of the victims to complete simple tasks.

There is no ‘magic pill ‘to cure depression, as anti-depressants only compress the depression. Self-care and engaging with supportive services can assist with overcoming depression, as it provides the person with the opportunity to participate in down-time. Thus, re-focusing their energy on positivity and their health, encouraging growth. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943) outlines the basic human needs, and without sustaining these, the person may struggle with their mental health, thus, affecting their ability to self-care. Furthermore, Maslow (1943) explains that sleep is one of the fundamental basic needs for someone to function, and a lack of sleep has a profound effect on your mental health. Consequently, poor sleep can become a contributing factor to mental health issues as the person begins to struggle with physical exhaustion, thus, leading them to suffer from low moods and depression. 

The Mental Health Foundation (2011), raises their concern that people are not achieving enough sleep to maintain their mental health. Dijk et al. (2010), state that adults averagely should be sleeping seven to eight hours per day. However, in reality, how many people sleep a full eight hours a night, with work, children, and schooling to consider. Thus, resulting in them having difficulties in developing personal relationships as they struggle to engage in fruitful conversation, due to exhaustion of the mind.

Many students have to juggle, work, relationships and their degree with multiple deadlines looming, and often struggle to balance these evenly. Therefore, emphasising the importance of maintaining a healthy pattern of sleep, benefiting their mental health, as this could reduce some of the pressures they are dealing with. Zager et al. (2007), remind us, that sleep is vital for our bodies development, as it allows the body time to protect the immune system and process the information we have come across throughout the day. Many students have to juggle, work, relationships and their degree with multiple deadlines looming, and often struggle to balance these evenly. 

Furthermore, the Mental Health Foundation (2011), emphasises the need to see poor quality sleep as a public health issue, as it can lead to such a vast number of consequences. Not only mental health issues, but it also leads to accidents, placing others in harm’s way. Mental Health Foundation (2016), recommends the use of a four-step programme that could HEAL or address some of the sleep issues that are occurring. Firstly, consider the body’s health, are there any physical or mental health issues that may be affecting the sleeping pattern?  

Sleep matters. People need to review the structure of their bedrooms by adjusting their light and the placement of their bed. Often people struggle with maintaining a good sleeping pattern due to work patterns or shift-based work, therefore, leading them to sleep when possible. Thus, leading to poor quality sleep. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can restrict the person from falling asleep or result in waking up several times throughout the night. If someone has any of these health issues, it would be recommended for them to visit their GP for further information and support.

The environment is another factor that needs to be considered. The removal of the television from the bedroom or reducing screen time on tablets and mobile phones before bedtime can improve the quality of sleep, as the mind is active and unable to relax. Although removing of television, maybe deemed dramatic, this vital trick could allow the person to relax, as they begin to associate the bedroom with sleeping, rather than watching television in bed.

Therefore, this links to a person’s attitude. This reflects upon the person reducing their engagement with technology before bedtime. Instead of using technology devices, read a book, or listen to calming music (Mental Health Foundation, 2016). These simple changes could reduce anxiety and allow the person to drift off into a calming sleep state. Using mobile phones or watching television, stimulates the brain, thus, making it more difficult to drift off to sleep. Thus, resulting in a restless night. These simple tasks ultimately lead to lifestyle changes. Mental Health Foundation (2016) recommends dietary changes, including eating less sugary meals and engaging in exercise. 

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