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World Health Day: Good Sleep Alleviates Symptoms of Depression

  • A good night’s sleep positively improves symptoms of anxiety & depression
  • Areas most impacted by poor sleep include energy levels (60%), mood (48%), relationships with other people (35%) and physical health (28%)
  • 68% of patients with mild-moderate depression and anxiety receiving digital sleep improvement programme Sleepio moved to recovery

To mark World Health Day (07/04/17), which this year focuses specifically on depression, digital medicine company Big Health is releasing research that details the how poor sleep can affect mental health and recovery.

Approximately 69% of adults with depression are also suffering from insomnia and the onset of poor sleep brings an increased risk of developing anxiety and depression and acts as a barrier to successful treatment. Big Health, in their World Sleep Survey, reports findings that British respondents are impacted by poor sleep in many different areas of their lives on a daily basis: 

  • Personally, respondents said that energy levels (60%), mood (48%), relationships with other people (35%) and physical health (28%) were the areas most impacted by their poor sleep
  • Professionally, concentration (at 46%), ability to complete work (38%) and staying awake during the day (27%) were cited as the three top issues affecting workplace productivity
  • Three out of five (60%) respondents did not consult their doctors about poor sleep

Big Health are the creators of the clinically-proven sleep improvement programme Sleepio, which teaches Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques that help people overcome insomnia in a way that’s scalable and accessible without pills or potions.

Another study in which Sleepio was evaluated as part of the NHS’s IAPT services, concluded that improving poor sleep through a digital CBT programme can not only lessen the insomnia symptoms linked with depression and anxiety but actually improve the anxiety and depression as well:

  • 68% of patients with mild to moderate depression and anxiety moved to recovery  following treatment from online CBT programme Sleepio
  • This was substantially higher than the national average recovery rate of 45% for patients using other NHS psychological services

“Sleep and mental health are intimately linked,”  said Colin Espie, co-founder of Big Health and professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford. “We all know that after a sleepless night we can feel a bit tired and irritable, but most of us can bounce back after a good night’s sleep. People who suffer from chronic sleep problems have more difficulty recognising and managing emotions, and are at double the risk of developing depression.”

“For those suffering from mental health issues, seven in ten adults with depression has insomnia (Tsuno et al., 2005), while of this same group, 75% will still have insomnia a year later. In trying to tackle this issue, treating sleep problems in people with depression and insomnia has led to better outcomes than treating depression alone (Blom et al (2014); Manber et al (2008)).”

Peter Hames, co-founder of Big Health and NHS Innovation Fellow also said: “Sleepio empowers patients to overcome their poor sleep by providing personalised, evidence-based CBT techniques and support. Whilst the link between insomnia and depression and anxiety is well documented, it’s incredible to see a digital solution designed to manage insomnia having such a marked effect on patients’ anxiety and depression symptoms too. These results raise the exciting prospect of using sleep as a way to help the millions with anxiety and depression who don’t currently seek help.”



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