It may be possible also to address the sleep problem

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problems could improve sleep quality. It may be possible also to address the sleep problem alongside the health problem rather than just treating it as a symptom. Our mental state is perhaps even more important in allowing or preventing insomnia from developing from an acute into a chronic problem. This refers particularly to our thoughts and attitudes about sleeping. For example, some of us, after suffering several consecutive sleepless nights, may become anxious that we have not had enough sleep. This type of thought process is likely to lead to thinking about the problems associated with not sleeping. This can lead to anxious thoughts, which can then lead a person to see themselves as failing to sleep well. These thoughts perpetuate a negative cycle, making it even more difficult for the person to sleep. Many of us may recognise this behaviour if we have watched the clock during the night. This is a very common activity for people who suffer from insomnia, where the clock starts to be used as a gauge to monitor sleep performance. This pressure to perform in turn makes it more difficult to sleep. Sleeping poorly increases the risk to poor mental health, which is often neglected when aiming to improve health and wellbeing. Insomnia is inextricably related to mental health. Many of us will have experienced a sleepless night due to worrying about an upcoming event, such as an exam or a job interview. A prolonged period of stress or worry can also seriously affect our ability to sleep. In a sample of roughly 20,000 young adults, lack of sufficient sleep was linked to psychological distress 37 , and a history of insomnia has been shown to increase the risk of developing depression 38 39 . Unsurprisingly, anxiety and depression are also common causes of chronic insomnia 40 . People who suffer from depression may experience sleep disturbances which disrupt the process of falling and staying asleep. The sleeper may wake intermittently throughout the night, or wake early in the morning and be unable to sleep again 41 . Furthermore, insomnia is a common complaint in people who suffer from schizophrenia 42 , and some schizophrenia medications can profoundly affect a person’s ability to maintain constant sleep 43 . People visiting sleep disorder clinics with the complaint of insomnia often have another underlying mental health problem 44 . This type of insomnia is more difficult to treat since it involves treating the underlying problem as well as the insomnia. Poor sleep relates not only to the total amount of sleep, but also to the quality of sleep and the amount of time spent awake. Good quality sleep includes all of the aforementioned sleep stages, with a significant amount of time spent in deep sleep.
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33 32 The Great British Sleep Survey: new data on the impact of poor sleep The Great British Sleep Survey was launched by Sleepio to measure the sleep quality of the UK population. By December 2010 there were 1870 responses from men and 4838 from women (total = 6708).
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