SCOTS are being urged to make use of help to ensure we’re getting enough sleep – amid warnings over the health impact of the cost of living crisis.

Research by the Mental Health Foundation found last week that 30% of adults in Scotland are experiencing poorer quality sleep following a sharp increase in everyday expenses caused by the cost of living crisis in the UK.

The report also addressed the link between the cost of living crisis and the health of those affected, through both the loss of disposable income and financial anxiety.

The reality of dropping below the poverty line and falling behind on bills is increasing the amount of anxiety being felt about personal finances, which in turn is causing difficulties in sleeping.

Citizens Advice Scotland has estimated that 2.8 million people in Scotland are worried and anxious about the cost of living crisis, which equates to 51% of the overall population.

Its financial health spokesperson Sarah-Jayne Dunn said: “The current cost of living crisis is the worst we have seen in living memory and the Citizens Advice Network has seen an increase in demand for advice around energy, housing, benefits and money worries.

“The risk this has for mental well-being across the country is stark.

“That is why Citizens Advice is trying to work more with health services to ensure people can get referred for money and financial advice from a health care setting.”

Dunn urged people who are concerned about their finances to seek advice as soon as possible. She said: “The single most important thing people who are worried about money and the cost of living can do is seek advice.

“Stress and anxiety build up because of this fear of the unknown – getting advice as quickly as possible is the right thing to do rather than stick your head in the sand or stick bills in a drawer.

“What we have seen in the past is clients who have sought advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau have found that their stress and mental wellbeing has improved because they have the facts they need to take the next steps.”

The Mental Health Foundation is now calling for government action in response to its report, suggesting that the “potentially devastating” effect on mental health cannot be ignored.

It said: “The most crucial action to support good public mental health will be financial support schemes that prevent people from experiencing poverty and financial stress.”

Amid the cost of living crisis fears, Dr Leanne Fleming, director of the sleep research unit at the University of Strathclyde, warned that sleep is extremely important for overall health.

She said: “Prioritising and protecting sleep is so important, especially during times of increased stress, so ensuring we keep an eye on our diet, reduce caffeine and other stimulants, and making sure we get enough physical activity during the daylight hours can help.

“If despite this, you are still struggling to sleep, it would be worth speaking to your GP about an intervention to improve your sleep based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is the evidence-based treatment. There are also excellent digital CBT programmes, allowing you to access sleep support at home.”

NHS research shows that deprivation of sleep over time increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity. Poor sleep can also trigger mania, paranoia and plummet concentration levels.

The Mental Health Foundation report, titled Mental Health And the Cost of Living Crisis: Another pandemic in the making? came the same week that a charity announced a training programme to boost healthy sleep.

Sleep Scotland has launched a course designed to promote quality sleep in adults with complex needs.

Sleep Counselling for Adults is an initiative that aims to equip participants with a comprehensive understanding of the physiology of sleep, the application of cognitive and behavioural principles and the types of sleep issues they may encounter.

Dr Richmond Davies, head of service for health, wellbeing and social care at Public Health Scotland said: “We welcome the increased recognition of the impact of sleep on our mental health and the efforts made to address this.

"The links between sleep and mental health are well evidenced and a good sleep pattern is essential to maintain good mental health.”

The NHS Inform website has a specific resource – at nhsinform/scot/mind-to-mind – on improving your sleep, including with specific emphasis on financial pressures.