An extensive study reveals that Brits are some of the worst sleepers in the world. In fact, nearly four out of ten people in the UK are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, as compared to three out of ten in France and just one out of ten in China. India ranks the lowest among the countries studied, with just 7% of its population reporting any lack of sleep. Sleep expert Dr. Neil Stanley suggests that one powerful influence on British sleeping behaviour is our culture, saying, “One reason why the U.K. has such a problem with sleep is because we’ve created a 24-hour society more than any country in Europe. We have overnight television, supermarkets like Tesco are open all night and 10-15 years ago our government passed a law saying pubs could open for 24 hours a day.” These practices are in stark contrast to those in many other European countries, where you’d be hard-pressed to find a meal past 10 pm and most shops close early. Sleep deprivation costs the UK economy as much as £40 billion every year in productivity, but the toll lack of sleep takes on our health is even more grievous. Because sleep is a basic human need, sleep deprivation has a myriad of adverse effects on the mind and body. One of the most serious, and in some cases lethal, is depression.
Sleep and depression
One of the most extensive studies on sleep deprivation and depression worked with nearly 4,000 students from across the UK and revealed that better sleep – aided by cognitive behavioural therapy – can lead to significant reductions in depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as paranoia and hallucinations. This helps better explain the connection between sleep and depression: Sleep deprivation is just as much a cause of mental health problems as it is a symptom of them. The results have been replicated in a dozen other smaller studies, and more groups are contributing to the body of knowledge on the relationship. For instance, sleep has been found to affect the way our brain forms observations and memories. This contributes to depressive feelings of irritability, worthlessness, and paranoia, which Leesa has nicknamed ‘slangry’, an amalgam of ‘sleep’ and ‘angry’. Studies have found that people are twice as likely to form strong negative memories than positive or neutral ones when they’re sleep deprived, giving them more negative thoughts throughout the day.
Tackling depression in the UK
The positive aspect of the studies is the implication that it’s possible to help people get a good night’s sleep, and that people suffering from insomnia and mental health have a way to improve their well-being. These findings are all the more crucial today, when there’s an increasing number of people suffering from mental health issues. In fact, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks the British as some of the most depressed people in the Western world, ranking seventh overall. Therefore, it is important to take steps to solve the pressing issue of mental health in the UK. While the government and civil organisations do what they can to help people suffering from depression and other illnesses, make sure to check up with friends and family to see if they need treatment as well. Moreover, check out the five signs that you should see a therapist, all of which were tackled in a previous article here on Dr Julian blog. A better understanding of such factors is vital to the prevention, or at least early detection, of mental conditions.
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Source: Dr julian