On 7 November 2017, Barnsley residents told us about their physical and mental health by completing a diary. This feedback gave us an invaluable and unique insight into the daily challenges that affect physical and mental health. It also gave us a better understanding of what people think makes their health better or worse.
Poor sleep or lack of sleep was a main theme from the diaries that were completed, and sleep therefore formed part of the Director of Public Health's annual report. The report pledged to consider this issue and to provide practical advice and tips to help with better sleep.
Why is sleep so important?
Did you know that we spend a third of our lives asleep? Regardless of your age or gender, sleep is crucial to your health and wellbeing.
Unfortunately, too many people in Barnsley are suffering from a lack of sleep or poor sleep and we're not alone. In England, four in ten people aren’t getting enough sleep and one in five people sleep poorly most nights. Sleep problems are the second most common health complaint after pain.
Most people know that a good night’s sleep is the best way to recover after a hard day. But sleep isn't just critical to recovery - it's essential for maintaining cognitive skills such as communicating well, remembering key information and being creative and flexible in thought.
There's also a strong relationship between sleep and physical and mental health. Not getting enough sleep has a profound impact on our ability to function. If it develops into a pattern, the cumulative impact is significant.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is about creating the ideal conditions for a good night's sleep. These can include:
- fixed times for going to bed and waking up
- regular physical activity
- comfortable sleeping environment, and
- avoiding certain foods and activities late at night
What help is available?
Relaxation techniques can help some people. You can download a free audio guide from mentalhealth.org.uk
Sleep apps such as Pzizz or Sleepstation may also be useful.
You can find more information on:
If sleep is still difficult, talk to your pharmacist or GP.
How can employers help?
It's important for businesses to be aware of the impact of sleep deprivation on the health and wellbeing of their employees. This has knock-on effects on productivity. There are steps that employers can take to support their employees with any sleep-related issues. These include:
- open discussion as part of a health and wellbeing strategy
- risk identification and management
- assessment of work patterns including shift work
- assessment of environment
- stress and relationship management
- training for managers to recognise and address signs of sleep deprivation
For more details and other resources to support employers: