Research by Nicole Tang in the Department of Psychology at Warwick University indicates that getting a better night’s sleep can lead to improved physical and mental wellbeing over time, and that quality of sleep is more important than its duration.
Given this, Tang suggests that improving the quality and quantity of sleep, and reducing use of sleep medication, should be promoted as a public health value - as something that everyone can do to stay physically and mentally healthy.
The research involved analysing the self-reported sleep patterns of more than 30,500 people over four years, who responded to the UK Household Longitudinal Survey. It showed that improved sleep quality and quantity, and using less sleep medication, were linked with improved scores on the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), which is used by mental health professionals to monitor psychological wellbeing in patients.
People surveyed who reported improved sleep scored a 2-point change in the GHQ, a result comparable to those recorded from patients completing an eight-week programme of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy designed to improve psychological wellbeing.
In addition, the same people showed improved scores on the 12-Item Short Form Survey, which tests levels of physical and emotional health, and ability to perform everyday activities.
Read more about Tang's research here.