“RSPH warns that the UK public is under-sleeping by an average of almost an hour every night – which amounts to losing an entire night’s sleep over the course of a week. 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 wellbeing.
The report, ‘Waking up to the health benefits of sleep’, co-authored by renowned sleep expert Professor Colin Espie, calls on the government, employers, health care professionals and individuals to do more to promote good quality sleep to protect and promote the public’s health and wellbeing.
Public missing out on a night’s worth of sleep every week
- Sleep is as vital for survival and health as food and water. Sleep is involuntary and inevitable.
- 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
- Despite this, four in ten people aren’t getting enough sleep, while one in five sleep poorly most nights, representing the second most common health complaint after pain
- Given sleep’s pivotal role in the nation’s health and wellbeing, it needs to be a key priority for the public’s health.
RSPH calls to action
- We 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
- Healthcare professionals, including GPs and nurses should screen patients for sleep problems, offer CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) as a treatment, and use sleep as a hook for discussing more complex health issues. Healthcare professionals should also be trained in this area
- Given sleep’s link with increased accidents at work, we would like to see employers review existing guidelines and, where necessary, develop new ones
- Sleep should be covered in the school curriculum under Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education and school start times should be carefully researched to be more comparable with the adolescent circadian rhythm.