A good night’s sleep “as good as winning £200,000 on the lottery”

A good night’s kip is as good as winning £200,000 on the lottery, according to new research.

A study found boosting slumber would make Brits as happy as scooping the jackpot.

Scientists analysed the sleep patterns of more than 30,500 people and calculated what it would be worth in terms of mental and physical wellbeing.

Improved quality and quantity of shut eye over four years were linked with higher scores on the General Health Questionnaire – a tool used by psychiatrists to screen patients for minor mental disorders.

Participants who reported better sleep scored a 2 point change in the GHQ – comparable to results recorded in an eight-week programme of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy designed to improve psychological well being.

Psychiatrist Dr Nicole Tang added: “They are also comparable with the average improvement in well being shown by UK BHPS (British Household Panel Survey) lottery winners two years after a medium sized lottery win of £1,000 to £120,000 in 1998 money.”

She explained, with inflation, this would be worth up to £200,000 today!

Furthermore, the same people showed improved scores on the 12-Item Short Form Survey, which tests levels of physical and emotional health, as well as people’s ability to perform everyday activities.

Conversely, it was found that a lack of sleep, bad quality sleep, and using more sleep medication can lead to worsened medical and emotional states.

The University of Warwick team said sleep quality is more important than quantity for optimal health and happiness.

They said the study of households across the UK shows working on better sleep could be an effective, cheap and simple public health strategy.

A recent study of 13 countries found those living in the UK are the most sleep deprived, with more than a third (37%) feeling they do not get enough.

The problem has been blamed onovernight TV, supermarkets and pubs has been blamed, with the UK having the most ’24 hour based society’ in Europe.

Study leader Dr Tang said: “Working on getting a better night’s sleep can lead to optimal physical and mental well being over time – and quality of sleep is more important than how many hours you get.

“Improving your sleep quality leads to levels of mental and physical health comparable to those of somebody who’s won a jackpot of around £200,000.”

Her research, published in SLEEP, proves improving the quality and quantity of sleep amongst the population, as well as discouraging the use of sleeping pills, is an effective, simple and cheap method of raising the health and well being of society as a whole.

Consequently, working on getting good quality sleep and reducing sleep medication should be promoted as a public health value – something that everyone can do easily to stay physically and mentally healthy, argued Dr Tang.

She added: “We are far from demonstrating a causal relationship, but the current findings suggest a positive change in sleep is linked to better physical and mental well being further down the line.

“It is refreshing to see the healing potential of sleep outside of clinical trial settings, as this goes to show that the benefits of better sleep are accessible to everyone and not reserved for those with extremely bad sleep requiring intensive treatments.

“An important next step is to look at the differences between those who demonstrate a positive and negative change in sleep over time, and identify what lifestyle factors and day-to-day activities are conducive to promoting sleep. Further research in this area can inform the design of public health initiatives.”

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