The imminent disruption to our circadian rhythms when sleep patterns get messed up this Sunday (29th October), as the clocks go back and the days become darker, looks set to cause further mental upset for many Brits. Seasonal Affective Disorder is feeling very real for many tired Brits this winter. Nearly two out of three (61%) worry a lack of sleep could lead them into anxiety and depression, according to new research. 

The rising cost-of-living has also impacted sleep, with Brits feeling anxiety over growing prices of essential items, along with mortgage and rent increases. Indeed, Britain looks to be facing a post pandemic mental health crisis according to this new research, which shows that increased social isolation following long Covid lockdowns has left one in four Brits (24%) saying they feel they have absolutely no one they can turn to with their worries when things get too much for them.  

Nearly one in five Brits (19%) say they are suffering from poor mental health, with family, financial, and health worries weighing the heaviest on their shoulders – the figure is twice as high as the average across the rest of Europe, where fewer than one in ten, just 9% of the population feel their mental health is poor.  

The research has been published by global healthcare leader STADA Arzneimittel AG, parent company of Thornton & Ross, the household and pharmaceutical giant behind some of the biggest brands in medicine and cleaning cupboards including Covonia®, Cetraben®, Hedrin®, Savlon® and Zoflora®. They are also the people behind the ‘Natures Aid’® range of innovative and award-winning sleep and mood supplements, herbal products and multivitamins, including SleepEezy®, Ucalm® and Passiflora Complex®. 

Commenting on such findings, the Sleep Charity’s deputy CEO, Lisa Artis, said: “A one-hour adjustment to your bedtime may seem small, but it can make an impact on sleep for some people. The clocks moving back an hour re-sets our circadian rhythms, meaning for a few days our internal body clocks aren’t quite in sync with our usual daily cycles. 

“Even though it’s just a one-hour difference, it can be unexpectedly difficult to adjust to a new routine and sleep at night.” 

A problem shared really is a problem halved 

The old adage ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ seems to be backed up by the research’s discovery that living alone increases the likelihood of poor mental health. Nearly half (47%) of those in single person households don’t describe theirs as good, compared with just 42% of people living with others. 

Men’s mouths are firmly shut 

Unsurprisingly, men are revealed by the findings to be much more likely to bottle up their emotions than women – nearly two out of three (64%) say they won’t share worries with family or friends, whereas more than one in two women (51%) feel able to turn to them for emotional support. Indeed, women are more likely to turn to friends and family with their problems than to their partner. Fewer than half see their spouse or partner as a helpful sounding board – just 45%.   

Brits’ biggest mental burdens  

In a troubling reflection of the ongoing cost of living crisis leaving many people working tirelessly without the time to take proper care of their own health or that of their families, worries around these issues are playing on the mind of many Brits. 

Top Six Stresses 

#1 Losing a loved one 50% 

#2 Financial worries 49% 

#3 Health concerns 47% 

#4 Economic Crisis 39% 

#5 Health care system failings 32% 

#6 Wars and conflicts 30% 

A slippery slope 

The findings show that although we seem aware of our predicament, many of us are not able to find a way through – more than one in 10 of us (11%) just see our mental health deteriorating further over the next 12 months.   

The greyer the hair, the happier the head 

There may be light at the end of the tunnel though – Brits’ mental health improves greatly once the stresses of career building and raising families are a thing of the past. More than half of working age people in the UK describe their mental health as not being good (52%), but things pick up hugely for the over 55s, with 73% saying they have good mental health. And it seems stopping working could be the true holy grail for happiness – only 7% of retired people describe their mental health as poor. 

Nigel Stephenson, general manager of STADA UK, commenting on the findings, said: “In a post-pandemic society, recent events have reminded us of the paramount importance of good health, whether that’s physical or mental. Delivering this and improving the healthcare systems that contribute to everyone’s health requires a broad range of people and organisations acting together based on reliable and verifiable information and data. The STADA Health Report is a valuable contribution to this goal and delivers directly on our purpose of Caring for People’s Health as a Trusted Partner.”