Better sleep reduces feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, Keele research shows

Improving sleep quality leads to better mental health, particularly reduced feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress, according to a major review led by a Keele psychologist.  

The review, led by Dr Alex Scott from Keele University, is one of the largest studies to date looking at the extent to which improving sleep can also improve mental health. It combined the results of 65 randomised controlled trials involving 8,608 people using a technique called meta-analysis. 

Dr Scott said: “We all know that poorer mental health can mean a poorer night’s sleep. However, recent evidence suggests that the reverse might also be true – that poorer sleep can also lead to poorer mental health. We tested this idea by combining the results of 65 randomised controlled trials that investigated whether improving sleep does indeed lead to better mental health.” 

The team found that improving a person’s sleep quality led to less stress, anxiety and depression. They also found that the greater the improvements in sleep, the greater the improvements in mental health, and that improving sleep had a beneficial effect on mental health even when people were living with physical health problems.  

The results of the analysis were presented to the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology conference this week. 

Dr Scott added: “This was a large review of existing sleep research that incorporated a wide range of sleep interventions and a wide range of mental health outcomes. The evidence shows that by using techniques to get a better night’s sleep you can improve your mental health, especially for those experiencing depression, anxiety and stress.”