Do lonely people sleep more?

Loneliness is a leading mental health crisis in the UK, and it can have an impact on how you sleep

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, a chance for us all to reflect on the emotional and mental wellbeing of both ourselves and those around us. This year, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is “loneliness” – a feeling many of us have become more familiar with since the COVID-19 pandemic and the various lockdowns it instigated.

Loneliness impacts huge numbers of people all over the UK, including 1.4 million older adults and 3.7 million over-16s, according to Age UK and The Guardian respectively. Not only can it lower your mood, but loneliness can also have an impact on your physical health. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, living alone, having poor social connections and general loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This is because the emotional impact has been shown to increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke and depression.

And as well as this, loneliness can also have an impact on your sleep hygiene. We’re going to take a closer look at just how serious a condition loneliness can be, and the relationships between loneliness and sleep.

The symptoms of loneliness

Loneliness impacts us all in different ways, depending on who you are, what your situation is, and what has brought on the feeling. However, there are certain symptoms that are common in cases of chronic loneliness, including an inability to connect with others on a deeper level. You may also feel like you have no close friends you can open up to, and suffer from an overwhelming feeling of isolation no matter whether you’re alone or in a crowd.

Loneliness can also lead to other negative feelings like a lack of self-worth and self-esteem. It can also make other mental health concerns like anxiety and depression much more likely.

Loneliness and sleep

Another negative sensation often brought on by chronic loneliness is exhaustion. Those who suffer from loneliness are more likely to report also feeling tired and lethargic too, but does this mean that lonely people sleep more.

While some research suggests that lonely people are more prone to taking naps during the day – often due to a mixture of feeling exhausted and trying to fill in time – this doesn’t necessary mean that loneliness results in any more sleep overall. In fact, the sleep we have at night is often of lower quality among lonely people.

One study by the Sleep Research Society found that those who experience social isolation and loneliness also have more disrupted sleep, including more insomnia symptoms and shorter sleep duration. This was particularly prevalent in older adults.

This can lead to a vicious cycle, as loneliness can sleep to sleep deprivation which can in turn strengthen the symptoms of loneliness like anxiety, isolation and exhaustion. This can make sleep more difficult, and so the cycle continues.

Tackling loneliness and improving your sleep

It’s important to take the necessary steps to combat loneliness in order to improve your sleep in the long run. The Mental Health Foundation has useful help and advice available for coping with loneliness and improving your mental health.

You can also make smart changes to your sleep habits in order to promote good sleep, which in turn can support your mental health. These include setting a sleep/wake routine you can stick to, avoiding screens and social media in the run-up to bedtime, and keeping your bedroom cool and dark to support a more restful night’s sleep.

The best sleep happens on a high-quality mattress, so check out the Perks range now. You can also explore the rest of our blog for more sleep news and tips.

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