Healthy living

How insomnia takes its toll

Health cost of insomnia It creates health and relationship problems

People who have problems sleeping are also more likely to suffer from a range of other health problems, according to a new report.

A survey of 5,328 people for the Mental Health Foundation found that six out of ten people had problems sleeping. Of those surveyed 37 per cent said they suffered from insomnia while another 24 per cent experienced other sleep related problems including sleep apnoea, teeth-grinding and sleeping too much.

The Sleep Matters report, published to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, also reveals the impact poor sleep can have on a person's mental and physical wellbeing.

People with mild, moderate or severe insomnia were four times as likely to have relationship problems and three times more likely to experience "low mood" compared to those who slept well.

The survey also found that people with insomnia were three times more likely to suffer from a lack of concentration during the day and "getting things done."

They were also more than twice as likely to suffer from low energy compared to the survey respondents who slept well.

The mental health charity say the findings highlight the impact sleep disorders have on everyday activities such as work and relationships as well as health.

Past research has linked long term sleep deprivation to a greater risk of heart problems, diabetes, depression, lowered immunity and obesity.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Whilst great emphasis is rightly placed on the importance of diet and exercise, sleep has for too long been neglected as a major influence on the physical and mental health of the nation.

"Up to a third of the population currently suffers from insomnia, and with stress and longer working hours on the rise in the current economic climate, it is crucial that we now treat the issue of sleep problems as the major public health concern it is.”

Professor Colin Espie, Director of the Glasgow University Sleep Centre said: “The Great British Sleep Survey data show the extent to which sleep disorders can inhibit the very essence of who we are: our relationships, our mood, our ability to complete day-to-day tasks.

"These factors in turn have an impact on our health - sustained periods of low mood, relationship difficulties and lack of exercise due to low energy levels, for example, are all notable causes of mental health problems such as depression.

This article was published on Thu 27 January 2011

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