The Government received a wake-up call on the importance of sleep on Wednesday, as two of the UK’s sleep champions – The Sleep Council and The Sleep Charity – launched the Wake Up Call sleep manifesto that calls for sleep to be pushed up the public health agenda, to be a critical part of the Change4Life initiative and to be promoted as being as important to good health as diet and exercise.
The two bodies are also calling on any individual, business or organisation concerned with promoting good sleep among employees, students or the wider community, to pledge their support by signing up to their Charter for Sleep Equality (by emailing email@example.com).
Policymakers and influencers from the Government, health organisations, mental wellbeing charities, trade unions and major corporates attended the Westminster launch where a raft of keynote speakers, including Mark Rowland, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, and ex-Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon, underlined the critical role of good sleep to good health.
Action is urgently needed, say organisers, because in terms of the effect on the economy alone, sleep deprivation is expected to cost the nation £47b by 2030. The Wake Up Call manifesto also points to some 200,000 working days a year being lost in the UK because of insufficient sleep. And it highlights the £50m spent by the National Health Service in England each year to ensure the one in three adults affected by insomnia gets a good night’s sleep.
The Manifesto makes three key calls for action: greater understanding and recognition of the impact sleep issues have on individuals, families and societies; a right to support at the earliest possible stage for those with sleep issues; and for high quality support – underpinned by Government policy – to be made available for those with sleep issues.
Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council says: “We believe this is the most significant call ever made on the Government to take sleep seriously. In the same way that we have seen public health campaigns around the importance of diet and exercise, we believe the time has come for Westminster to act on promoting and supporting good sleep.
“Sleep is as vital to survival as food and water but is not yet taken as seriously. We believe if steps are taken to improve peoples’ sleep, we can make a transformational difference to the lives and wellbeing of the nation.”
Vicki Dawson of The Sleep Charity adds: “We are also calling for improvements to the support on offer for those with sleep issues as the resources currently available are inadequate or non-existent. Lack of sleep has an enormous impact on the lives of people, their families and wider society. We believe it is therefore imperative for the Government to produce a long-term strategy – with spending commitments - that will increase awareness on a wide scale about the importance of sleep.
“Every opportunity must be taken to build sleep education programmes within schools. Employers need to consider sleep issues as part of their staff’s wellbeing, shift workers need to be supported appropriately, and professionals who support those with sleep issues must receive appropriate training. It is essential that sleep is taken seriously to support the nation’s wellbeing and we call upon the Government to ‘wake up’ to the importance of sleep and to champion better sleep health for everyone.”
Charlie Harrison, commercial director of Furniture Village, which sponsored refreshments at the Westminster launch, comments: “Furniture Village is very proud to be supporting this exciting initiative to help raise awareness around the importance of sleep. It’s something we’re extremely passionate about and we’re thrilled to be working alongside The Sleep Council and Sleep Charity on their fantastic ongoing work.”