UK Group Calls for Better Sleep Guidelines

New research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) says residents of the UK are losing a full night of sleep every week, and the group hopes to do something about it.

The new report, titled “Waking up to the health benefits of sleep” says people in the UK are under-sleeping by about an hour each night.  As a result, experts are calling for the introduction of national sleep guidance time – ‘a slumber number’ – to help inform the public about the critical importance of sleep to health and well being.

The report calls for:

  • The UK Government to publish a national sleep strategy
  • Routine screening for insomnia and training for health and social care professionals
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to be made more available as first line therapy for sleep disorders.

RSPH polling has also shown that the public feels getting enough sleep is the second most important activity for optimizing their health and well being, ahead of health behaviors such as eating five fruit and vegetables a day, undertaking enough physical activity, and sticking to recommended alcohol guidelines. In fact, sleep was ranked second only behind not smoking. RSPH’s poll of 2,000 UK adults also reveals:

  • Average sleep time is 6.8 hours, below the average 7.7 hours people feel they need
  • More than half (54%) have felt stressed as a result of poor sleep
  • More than a third (36%) have eaten unhealthy food as a result of poor sleep
  • Almost four in 10 (37%) have fallen asleep on public transport.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said, “We do need to wake up to the benefits of sleep – there is a wealth of evidence that lack of sleep is damaging the public’s health. Poor sleep and sleep disorders impact on our ability to lead a healthy lifestyle and are associated with a range of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart attack and depression.”

“Our research shows there is a yawning gap in how much sleep the public are getting compared to how much they need – this could be as much as one night’s worth of sleep every week. Efforts to combat this shortfall could be as critical to optimising our health and wellbeing as maintaining an active lifestyle or having a healthy diet. A good starting point would be to ensure sleep has parity alongside other areas of health and develop a national sleep strategy which sets out guidance for the public and highlights what more schools, employers, and healthcare professionals can do to ensure the nation sleeps better at night.”

Source: RSPH