top of page

Sleep Deprivation

What are the symptoms of sleep deprivation?


At first, sleep deprivation may cause minor symptoms. But over time, these symptoms can become more serious.


Early sleep deprivation symptoms may include:


Inability to concentrate

Memory problems

Less physical strength

Less ability to fight off infections


Sleep deprivation problems over time may include:

Increased risk for depression and mental illness

Increased risk for stroke and asthma attack

Increased risk for potentially life-threatening problems. These include car accidents, and untreated sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy.


Severe mood swings


You know that sleep is vital to your physical and mental health. But, how can you tell whether you’re truly sleeping well?


On average, adults should optimally receive between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, but those needs vary individually. For example, some people feel best with eight consecutive hours of sleep, while others do well with six to seven hours at night and daytime napping. Some people feel okay when their sleep schedule changes, while others feel very affected by a new schedule or even one night of insufficient sleep.


Here are some statements about your sleep. If these apply to you, it’s a good sign that your sleep is on track. If you’re a shift worker and you don’t agree with many of these, it could mean that you need to make changes in your behaviors and routines to improve your sleep.


•           You fall asleep within 15-20 minutes of lying down to sleep.

•           You regularly sleep a total of seven to nine hours in a 24-hour period.

•           While in your bed, your sleep is continuous—you don’t have long periods of lying awake when you wish to be sleeping.

•           You wake up feeling refreshed, as if you’ve “filled the tank.”

•           You feel alert and are able to be fully productive throughout the waking hours (note, it’s natural for people to feel a dip in alertness during waking hours, but with healthy sleep, alertness returns).

•           Your partner or family members do not notice any disturbing or out of the ordinary behavior from you while you sleep, such as snoring, pauses in breathing, restlessness, or otherwise nighttime behaviors.


Shift workers who try to sleep during the day often wake up after fewer than seven to nine hours, because of the alerting signals coming from their circadian system. This does not mean they don’t need seven to eight hours of sleep per day—it just means it’s harder to sleep during the day. Over time, this can lead to chronic sleep deprivation.


What causes sleep deprivation? 

Sleep deprivation is not a specific disease. It's usually the result of other illnesses or from life circumstances.

Sleep deprivation is becoming more common. Many people try to adjust their schedule to get as much done as possible, and sleep is sacrificed.

Sleep deprivation also becomes a greater problem as people grow older. Older adults probably need as much sleep as younger adults, but they typically sleep more lightly. They also sleep for shorter time spans than younger people. Half of all people older than 65 have frequent sleeping problems.


Can sleep deprivation be prevented?


If your sleep deprivation is mild, these simple strategies may help you to get a better night’s sleep:


Exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes each day, at least 5 to 6 hours before going to bed. This will make you more likely to fall asleep later in the day.

Don't use substances that contain caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol. Any of these can disrupt your regular sleep patterns. Quitting smoking is always a good idea.


How to manage sleep deprivation:


Creating a relaxing bedtime routine often helps conquer sleep deprivation and give you a good night’s sleep. This can include taking a warm bath, reading, or meditating. Let your mind drift peacefully to sleep. But don't eat a large meal just before bed. It can make it hard to sleep.


Another step that may help you to get a good night’s sleep is sticking to a consistent schedule. This, means that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If possible, waking up with the sun is a good way to reset your body’s clock more naturally.


Also keep your bedroom at a reasonable temperature. A bedroom that is too hot or too cold can disrupt sleep.


If you’re having trouble sleeping, try doing something else like reading a book for a few minutes. The anxiety of not being able to fall asleep can actually make sleep deprivation worse for some people.


Finally, see a doctor if your problems with sleep deprivation continue. Don’t let sleep problems linger.




4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page