Why We Should Start Treating Sleep Like a Public Health Issue

Your memory and well-being could depend on it.

Photo by nomao saeki on Unsplash

Most of us know from experience that not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on our productivity the following day. Now, a new study points to just how detrimental missing a few hours of shut-eye can be: researchers from the University of Leeds found that people who got less than five hours of sleep a night were more likely to experience problems with their memory the next day, according to the study’s press release.

Academic psychologists Dr. Anna Weighall and Dr. Ian Kellar studied 1,000 UK adults between the ages of 18 and 80. They had volunteers fill out questionnaires about sleep habits, memory, mental health and quality of life, according to the press release. (It’s important to note that the research was done in collaboration with Silentnight, a UK bed manufacturer.)

Based on participant responses, the researchers found a “statistically significant relationship between poor sleep and reduced mental well-being” as well as a “highly significant relationship between lack of sleep and an increase in everyday memory problems,” according to the press release.

That link was even stronger for those who often sleep less than five hours a night. People who got less than five hours of sleep found it “difficult to function effectively during the day,” according to the press release, namely impacting their memory. People forgot where they had put things, according to the press release, or forgot important and perhaps necessary tasks like taking medication.

The researchers suggest that their findings should convince us to treat sleep like a public health issue, much like getting a balanced diet or exercising regularly.

Read more here

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