The Consequences of a Bad Nights Sleep

By Rebecca Marley

A consistent seven to nine-hour sleep each night is the most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health.

Sleep is the best mediation
— Dalai Lama

Do you think you got enough sleep last night? How about last week?

When was the last time you woke up without the not-so-subtle help of your alarm clock, feeling refreshed and not reaching for coffee as soon as you get your zombie self downstairs?

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If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you are not alone. I bet you didn’t realise either that one out of every three people you walk past on UK streets regularly struggle to get a good nights sleep according to  UK Sleep Council and YouGov.

In fact, two-thirds of adults throughout all developed nations fail to obtain the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep.

Although you might not actually be surprised by these facts, you might be surprised by the consequences.

After just ONE week of insufficient sleep our body’s genes are already starting to alter their activity, controlling our response to stress, immunity, inflammation and overall health. Here are just some of the hidden health hazards caused by sleep deprivation.

Higher Levels of Anxiety

Lack of sleep amplifies the brains anticipatory reactions, raising overall anxiety levels

Disruption of circadian rhythm (natural body clock)

Leading to poor white blood cell health, which weakens our physical stress response

Higher Levels of depression

Lack of sleep causes a decrease in neurotransmitters which regulate mood

Impaired cognition

Excessive sleepiness impairs memory and the ability to think and process information

Higher risk of hypertension

Sleeping between 3 and 6 hours a night increases the risk of having high blood pressure

Higher risk of Stroke

Lack of sleep negatively effects cardiovascular health, increasing the risk of restricting blood flow to the brain

Higher risk of heart disease

When we sleep our blood pressure drops. Not experiencing this nightly drop in pressure is a risk factor for heart disease

Increased risk of breast cancer

Late night exposure to light is being linked to melatonin secretion, which triggers a reduction in oestrogen production. Too much oestrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer

Unhealthy cravings

Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) and full (leptin). Lack of sleep causes ghrelin levels to increase and leptin to decrease

Higher risk of injury

Just because we may not be our most alert selves when tired

Higher risk of diabetes

Lack of sleep triggers our stress response leading to the release of the stress hormone, cortisol and norepinephrine which are associated with insulin resistance.

Please don’t be scared after reading the above, we just want to make you aware of how important sleep really is so hopefully the next time you are faced with the dilemma of one more episode on Netflix or 8 hours sleep we hope you choose the latter.

A consistent seven- to nine-hour opportunity each night – is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day, and the reason we should love our bed a little more because life is better in our pyjamas.

For tips on how to get a good night sleep have you read our article THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU JUST CAN’T FALL ASLEEP?

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Love Rebecca x

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker is out now in paperback, published by Penguin Books