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PRISMA diagram showing the flow of studies through the review. credit: Reviews of sleep medications (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.smrv.2021.101556

Improving sleep quality leads to improved mental health and reduced feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress, according to a major review conducted by researchers from ScHARR, the Department of Psychology, and the Institute for Healthy Living.

If you’re struggling with sleep or mental health, you’re not alone. Both are incredibly common, with around a third of the general population struggling with symptoms of insomnia, and around 17% of adults suffering from mental health issues – and the number is set to rise.

Until recently, mental health problems were thought to lead to sleep problems. However, a study published Reviews of sleep medications found to be improving sleep quality can also improve mental health.

The review, one of the largest of its kind, was led by Dr. Alex Scott and combined the results of 65 randomized controlled trials involving 8,608 people using a method called meta-analysis.

Dr. Scott says, “We all know that poorer mental health can mean poorer nighttime sleep. However, recent evidence suggests that the opposite may also be true—that poorer sleep can also lead to poorer mental health. We tested this idea by ‘pooling the results of 65 randomized controlled trials that investigated whether improved sleep actually leads to improved mental health’.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield also found that improved sleep had significant benefits for mental health regardless of whether people had physical health problems, and that improved sleep quality led to fewer symptoms stress, anxiety and depression, regardless of their severity. The findings point to the exciting possibility that improving sleep may help reduce the risk of developing or worsening mental health difficulties.

“This was a large review of existing sleep research that included a wide range of sleep interventions and a wide range of mental health outcomes. Evidence shows that using techniques to get a better night’s sleep can improve your mental health, especially for those experiencing depression. restlessness and stress,” says Dr. Alexander Scott, lead author of the study.

Given how likely someone is to gain access mental health services also experience sleep problems, the study highlights the importance of equipping healthcare professionals with more knowledge and resources to support better sleep as an important next step to improve health outcomes for these general conditions.

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Additional information:
Alexander J. Scott and others. Improving sleep quality leads to improved mental health: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Reviews of sleep medications (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.smrv.2021.101556

Citation: Study Shows Better Sleep Leads to Better Mental Health (2022, October 5) Retrieved October 5, 2022, from

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