HG insights shared in The Guardian
Ezra was responding to the article, “Is sleep a ‘magic pill’ for teen wellness in a mental health crisis?”, which The Guardian had shared the week before in its Mental Health section. This article explored the importance to teens’ mental health and wellbeing of getting enough sleep – and how this had been affected during the pandemic.
Sharing a key HG insight, Ezra points out in his letter that it is not just getting enough sleep, but getting the right quality of sleep, that matters. “Too much REM sleep is bad for us, as is too little,” he says. He explains the essential role REM sleep plays in “reducing cortisol stress hormones and calming emotions from the previous day” – but also highlights how too much REM sleep can lead to insufficient deep, restorative slow wave sleep, resulting in the person waking up feeling exhausted and lacking in motivation.
In order to get the right quality of sleep, teens need to be able to meet their emotional needs, healthily and in balance – Ezra concludes: “Public health education should seek not only to emphasise the importance of getting enough sleep, but to explain that the stress from unmet emotional needs can cause depression when we have too much REM sleep, or the impulse to act on suicidal thoughts when we don’t have enough.”