Sleep – Mental Health Awareness Week 2011

Yesterday, the Mental Health Foundation kicked off this year’s ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ and the theme for this year is ‘Sleep’.

In conjunction with this, the Mental Health Foundation have produced a report about Sleep which is available to download free in PDF format here (it can also be bought in hard copy for £10).

I had a cursory glance through the report this morning and it really is quite fascinating because while I know the line about poor sleep both indicating and causing poor mental and physical health, I hadn’t really thought overly about the process of sleeping itself.

The first part of the report talks about sleep in general and what happens to the body when it is asleep in a physiological sense.  The second part concentrates on poor sleep and the different ways it can manifest, from insomnia to sleep apnoea, nightmares and snoring – and the final part of the report looks at sleeping well and various ways it might be achieved from ‘sleep hygiene’ to medication to CBT.

The survey in the report found that 30% of people asked had poor sleep patterns. I can definitely (like most people, I think) relate poor sleep to increased stresses and anxieties in my day to day life – unsurprising, to me, at least, that poor sleep leads to poor mental (and physical) health outcomes.

It can become cyclical so that stresses and poor mental health can lead to poor sleep which can lead to greater stresses and worsening mental health.

As well as the report, the Mental Health Foundation have produced some resources to use including a ‘Sleep Diary’. I can definitely see myself using this with people I work with.

There is  a free MP3 ‘Sleep Relaxation’  (on the same page) and while I haven’t listened to it yet, I have found audio resources useful in the past and will certainly be listening to it over the next few days.

And there’s a  free ‘Pocket Guide to Better Sleep’ in PDF form.

I think it’s an interesting theme for the week as sleep can be something that we take for granted if it doesn’t cause us problems (or just causes occasional problems) but I don’t think there are many people who can’t empathise with the distress that not being able to sleep well can cause as most people would have experienced at least occasional sleep difficulties and by highlighting it, this puts into a context that many people can understand, some of the difficulties faced by others.

Good set of resources too.


photo plod @ flickr

5 thoughts on “Sleep – Mental Health Awareness Week 2011

  1. Thanks so much, cb, for all these great resources on sleep!

    It is such a key component of one’s overall health and yet it is one of those things that we let life/our “to do” list rob us of much too easily…

    I think I read an article about a week ago that shared results from an experiment demonstrating that people think that an hour less of sleep does not impair their performance but that in fact it does.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that specific article but I did find another good one on the topic: Sleep Is More Important Than Food

  2. Thanks for the comments and for the link! I think that it’s easy to take good sleep for granted but I’ve seen the distress and poor health caused by poor sleep.

    (and I thought I’d make a change from the cat pics!)

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