Why it is so important to get a good night’s sleep

woman stretching awake sitting on edge of bed

Poor sleep will leave you feeling groggy and tired, but if you’re sleeping badly night after night, both your body and brain will soon start to suffer. That’s why it’s really important to get good sleep. Sleep is an active process that the body needs just as much as the brain and is crucially important for the regulation of all your body functions.

What’s happening while you sleep?

  • Your blood pressure naturally drops (giving your heart a break)
  • Fluid pumps through your brain tissue, washing away toxic waste that has built up during the day
  • Your brain sorts out your memories, shifting the useful ones into deep storage
  • Your ‘fight or flight’ response relaxes and levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, drop
  • Your immune system releases small proteins called ‘cytokines’ which help your body fight inflammation, infection and trauma

Why is poor sleep so bad for you?

An estimated quarter of the population is regularly deprived of a healthy 6-8 hours in bed and a third of UK adults suffer from insomnia. Not only is sleep deprivation frequently linked to road and industrial accidents1 2 but numerous studies have shown it can significantly exacerbate high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and obesity.

What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?

  • You’re likely to gain weight: Lack of sleep affects your appetite hormones, and impacts your body’s ability to control your blood sugar levels which means that sleep deprived people consume on average, an extra 385 calories a day3
  • You’re at risk of metabolic syndrome (which is linked to raised blood pressure and cholesterol, and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease)4 5
  • You’re likely to experience low mood and libido
  • You’ll be more vulnerable to infections and viruses
  • You’re more likely to have accidents
  • Toxins can build up in your brain increasing your risk of memory problems and dementia
  • You’ll probably be too tired to exercise

Get more sleep FAST!

Fortunately, there are surprising and effective ways to improve both your sleep efficiency (the amount of time you spend in bed asleep rather than simply fretting) and your sleep quality. This in turn should boost your happiness, creativity and even life expectancy.

Just follow the Fast Asleep plan which incorporates healthy low-carb Mediterranean eating packed with plenty of ingredients to keep your gut bacteria happy, with good sleep hygiene and, if your sleep patterns are particularly bad, a little ‘sleep restriction’.

What happens when you get more sleep:

  • You’ll see a boost to your libido6
  • Your mood will lift
  • You’ll have more energy
  • More likely to make healthy eating decisions which will boost your health
  • Food cravings will diminish
  • You’ll lose weight (or find it easier to maintain your weight)
  • You’ll be more likely to exercise (which is great for your health)

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2016/jul/26/ two-in-five-doctors-fallen-asleep-wheel-night-shift
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30239905
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27804960
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5589763/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21300732
  6. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jsm.12858

If you’re having trouble falling and staying Fast Asleep, you may benefit from an evidence-based diet and lifestyle approach like The Fast 800 programme. Co-founded by Dr Michael Mosley, The Fast 800 online programme is designed to help members lose weight and regain their health with food, exercise and mindfulness guidance based on science. Poor-quality sleep is common among those who are overweight, and many of The Fast 800 online programme members report an improvement in their sleep and mood while following the programme. Learn more.