We need to wake up to sleep’s benefits

A recently released report by the Royal Society for Public Health has revealed that one in three people are living with sleep disorders and four out of 10 are not getting enough sleep each night. Sleep, the reports added, is as vital for survival and health as food and water. Sleep is involuntary and inevitable.

The RSPH report’s authors say a wealth of evidence exists about the fundamental role sleep plays in protecting us from problems with our health and wellbeing. Poor sleep is linked to a wide range of physical, mental, behavioural and performance issues, said Professor Colin Espie, Professor of Sleep Medicine at the University of Oxford.

The report, called ‘Waking up to the health benefits of sleep’ states that ‘given sleep’s pivotal role in the nation’s health and wellbeing, it needs to be a key priority for the public’s health’ and the authors are calling for the introduction of a national sleep strategy and a ‘slumber number’ to guide the public on how much sleep they should be aiming to get.

“There is now a wealth of evidence to conclude that lack of sleep and poor sleep are inherently bad for our health, being associated with a huge range of conditions including diabetes, depression, obesity, heart attack and cancer,” the report states.

Sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep-related breathing disorders, hypersomnolence, sleep-wake disorders; sleep-related motor disorders and parasomnias. The authors say that if a person is living with an insomnia disorder the two main treatments are either medication or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

“One in 10 of us take a drug to help us sleep, and there are over 10 million prescriptions written every year in England for sleeping pills. However, CBT is the most effective treatment,” the authors add.

Clinical hypnotherapists use a variety of hypnotic and talking therapies, including CBT, in treating their clients and members of the National Council for Hypnotherapy are all highly qualified and trained in treating people for a variety of issues including, stress, anxiety, phobias and says research shows that hypnosis, combined with CBT, is the most effective treatment for insomnia.

Says the NCH: “Insomniacs generally respond very well to hypnosis. A hypnotherapist can create a programme of personalised treatment that identifies your sleeping patterns and teaches you self-management techniques which make a big difference not just to how long you sleep but the quality of sleep you enjoy.”

Stress and anxiety, as the report’s authors say, can also lead to sleep problems and the NCH adds that people who see hypnotherapists for anxiety issues often find, after sessions with the therapist, that they feel more confident and more relaxed in situations that have previously been challenging.

“Many people say that they are calmer and that they have more clarity of thought – able to make decisions more easily. People who have experienced side effects of anxiety such as insomnia, find that they are sleeping much better and as a result are able to work more effectively,” the NCH adds.

The RSPH reports says we all sleep differently, with people like pops tar Madonna, Margaret Thatcher and Thomas Edison being known for their ‘short sleep’ patterns with Madonna saying she ‘only grabs four hours’ sleep a night because she constantly worries about everything that is going on her life’.

Ironically Edison’s invention, the light bulb, has contributed too much to the sleep deprivation many of us feel. He is reported to have slept only 3-4 hours at night, regarding sleep as a waste of time.

If you are struggling with your nightly sleeping patterns, contact an NCH therapist near you by clicking here, it will make a difference to your life.