If you’ve ever gone without sleep or had too little sleep for a long period of time, then you will know what a big difference it can make to your life, including how you feel emotionally.

As the quality and quantity of our sleep has declined, millions of us are living with poorer levels of physical and mental health as a result.

Research carried out at the Mental Health Foundation suggests that sleeping well is one of the single most important things people can do to look after their emotional wellbeing. How well we sleep can influence our mental health, and our mental health can influence how well we sleep. In fact, sleep is the unsung hero of mental health.

There are lots of reasons why we don’t sleep well. We may have busy schedules, feel worried and anxious, care for young children or adults, look at our phones for too long, work shifts, or live in noisy neighbourhoods.

Perhaps you’ve tried to follow sleep hygiene advice, but it hasn’t worked. Maybe you struggle with sleep and don’t know why.

Improving, or looking after, our mental health is about more than individual behaviour changes. Workplaces, education and healthcare policy all have a role to play in prioritising good sleep, and with it, mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week

The Mental Health Foundation is going to focus on sleep during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 18-24 May.

The week – which has been running for 20 years – is the largest event of its kind in the world and will provide information and advice, while campaigning for the changes that can help to improve wellbeing and recovery.

And this includes sleep. With poor sleep, we may be just about surviving but not really thriving. The reality is that, most of us are not sleeping well because of circumstances that are beyond our control.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, healthawareness.co.uk will be releasing new research into the factors that connect sleep and our mental health. They will be polling different age groups about their attitudes to sleep and how much sleep they have.

The Mental Health Foundation wants to start a national conversation about how we can all sleep better, and uncover the hidden mental health costs of the poor sleep that affects so many of us. We want to investigate the changes we must make as individuals, communities and as a society, to all get the rest we need!

This post is by Health Awareness as part of their 2020 Sleep Health campaign. A printed publication was enclosed within every copy of the Guardian newspaper and the content is available online at https://bit.ly/3aMMgBD. The campaign featured exclusive content from key thought leaders and industry voices about the importance of sleep for mental health.