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 which are immediately recognisable: 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 and five times more likely to feel alone but also twice as likely to have relationship problems; suffer daytime fatigue and lack of concentration.
The costs are high for us all, affecting, our family lives, our society and our economy. The impact on businesses where staff have problems concentrating gives rise to repercussions in certain work environments that can be catastrophic. Absenteeism increases as staff need to take time off to catch up on their sleep or because of deteriorating health conditions. If this lack of sleep continues, a steep rise occurs in the chances of a person developing diabetes, heart disease and or strokes.
Relationships at home can come under strain and possibly break down completely because of the person’s lack of energy, irritability, low moods and poor health choices. The low energy and moods also have a serious impact on people’s motivation to keep a social life going. We see people’s confidence and self-esteem plummet as life can really become quite grim.
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 and with the development of new technologies that are enabling us to see the workings of the brain and body and gain a much deeper understanding than ever 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 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.
Article written by Bunty Dann - East Grinstead
My approach is practical, collaborative, measurable and cost effective (as few sessions as possible). Appointments can be made in the day or evening at a time that is convenient to you. I always measure progress at every session and tailor the therapy to the unique needs and characteristics of each... [read more]