Headlines > Can a lack of sleep affect our sanity?

Posted on September 14, 2017

Original image courtesy of Pixabay

Aiesha Akenzua explores the connection between insomnia and mental heath
A recent study by the University of Oxford in the UK, explored whether issues surrounding mental health could be related to insomnia.

The study showed that people who had undertaken cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which had been specially designed for insomnia, not only found that their sleep improved, but they also experienced reduced paranoia. Improvements in depression and anxiety were also evident.

CBT is method of talking therapy that helps manage your problems, by changing the way you think and behave. It’s commonly used in the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Over 3,700 students who suffered from insomnia signed up for the study. Participants were split into two groups: those who weren’t offered treatment and those who were offered six CBT sessions. Both groups undertook assessments after three weeks, 10 weeks and 22 weeks and the results showed that improvements in sleep and mental health were greater for those in the CBT group.

10 weeks into the study, insomnia had fallen to almost half within the CBT group. The study also showed that anxiety and depression levels had dropped by a fifth, with paranoia falling by 25%.

“Having insomnia doubles your chances of developing depression. We now know that if you treat the insomnia, it reduces depression,” said Professor Daniel Freeman from Oxford.

Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in mental health at York University added that there is a “real opportunity to help young people with insomnia to reduce their chances of developing psychotic illnesses.”

Professor Nicole Tang, an expert in CBT and insomnia, from the University of Warwick praised the study. “Considering that more students are suffering from poor mental health, the findings suggest that sleep-related interventions are a logical and possibly cost-effective way to tackle this growing problem.”

What I think
I believe this study is greatly beneficial to doctors and therapists when it comes to treatment of patients suffering from depression. Doctors now know they have something to work from, rather than trying to tackle only the depression.

There are many techniques that I think doctors can use such as relaxation techniques and biofeedback, which is the method of using instruments to measure activity such as brainwaves and heart rates, helping you gain control over normally involuntary functions.

Due to the high rate of students suffering from anxiety and depression, a study looking into school support systems and work loads could be put into place to confirm the correlation of school and stress.

Hopefully the CBT programme can be used in local clinics to support people with insomnia, and help reduce the rates of mental health issues.

Aiesha Akenzua
Aiesha is studying for her GCSE’s later this year and is taking Music, History, Geography and French. Her passions include writing both poems and songs, and she sees herself as the ‘voice for the voiceless’ (at times). She hopes to pursue a career in journalism when she’s older.

Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice. Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.




2 Responses to Can a lack of sleep affect our sanity?

  1. Bibi September 19, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    This article is very interesting and has definitely increased my knowledge on mental health. The research made to help support the article is great. this article has definitely taught me more about insomnia and how insomnia is not always a secondary effect but the main effect to trigger other mental health issues.

  2. Heather October 12, 2017 at 8:35 am #

    This was a really good and detailed article that made me feel really informed! 😀

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