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Sleep as a public health concern: insomnia and mental health

Dan Robotham (Senior Researcher, Mental Health Foundation, London, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 9 December 2011

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to outline the literature that situates sleep as a public health concern. In particular, it discusses the bi‐directional relationship between insomnia and mental health.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reviews and presents the findings of other relevant research, relating the discussion to policy and practice.

Findings

Getting good quality sleep is essential, but insomnia is a huge problem and may be the most commonly reported mental health complaint in the UK. Mental health influences insomnia, and insomnia can lead to mental health problems. Sleep medication is a commonly prescribed treatment for insomnia, but evidence from robust research suggests that cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBTI) is the most successful treatment for chronic insomnia.

Practical implications

GPs need evidence‐based information on the importance and benefits of sleep and to be able to recognise sleep problems in primary care. CBTI needs to be represented in NICE guidance for insomnia. CBT‐influenced methods could be implemented as low level interventions as part of a stepped care framework.

Originality/value

Reviewing the academic literature on sleep problems related to mental health reinforces the importance of sleep as a health issue, which can be assessed in primary care as appropriate.

Keywords

Citation

Robotham, D. (2011), "Sleep as a public health concern: insomnia and mental health", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 234-237. https://doi.org/10.1108/17465721111188250

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited