Everyone has sleepless nights sometimes, but how do you know if you are sleep deprived.

We are going to take an in depth look at what it looks like to be truly sleep deprived. First, we will be defining the term to make sure we all have the same idea of what it means to be deprived of sleep. Then we will be talking about the top most common detrimental side effects of sleep deprivation.

Let’s get started.

The Definition Of Sleep Deprivation

So what is sleep deprivation?

The simplest definition of this phrase is the condition of not having enough sleep. It can either be acute or chronic, and the levels of sleep deprivation can vary pretty widely. This means that it can be something you experience regularly and frequently, or even just randomly. The intensity of the problem can change as well.

Dealing with a chronic sleep restricted state can cause a multitude of different detrimental effects that we will discuss in more detail later on. While its long term consequences have never really been fully evaluated, sleep deprivation has actually been previously used as a treatment for depression.

There is not usually ever a complete absence of sleep over a long period of time in humans (unless they are suffering from specific issues like fatal familial insomnia), as brief micro-sleeps cannot really be avoided. Long term total sleep deprivation has been tested on lab animals, and has resulted in death.

If you are sleep deprived, here are ten of the most common effects you may experience.

6 Effects Of Being Sleep Deprived

While these aren’t every single example of what could go wrong when you are sleep deprived, these are the most common issues you may come across. This is an issue that also affects everyone differently, so you may experience only some of these symptoms yourself.

1. You Could Lose Your Sex Drive

One thing that may happen if you become sleep deprived is losing your sex drive.

Sleep specialists have stated that sleep deprived men and women typically report lower libidos and have less interest in having sex. This is mostly due to having far less energy, being extra tired, and being more tense and irritable than normal.

In men, this decreased interest in having sex may also be due to lower testosterone levels.

2. You Won’t Be As Smart

The next issue that could arise from a lack of sleep is a lack of common sense and intelligence over time.

Getting a good night’s sleep plays an extremely important role in learning and thinking. When you don’t get enough sleep, it hurts your cognitive processes in many different ways. It will affect your alertness, attention, reasoning, concentration, and your problem solving skills.

Over time, this could also severely affect your ability to learn well.

Also, during the night, various sleep cycles help you consolidate your memories in your mind. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you experienced and learned throughout the previous day.

3. You Won’t Be As Healthy

Your health will most likely also suffer when you lose sleep.

Sleep deprivation can lead to issues like heart failure, heart disease, heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many others as well.

There have been studies of people who have suffered from insomnia, which is a sleep disorder that is characterized by having trouble falling and staying asleep. A lot of these studies have shown that most people who suffer from this condition are usually dealing with another health condition as well.

On top of these issues, a lack of sleep will most likely weaken your immune system too. This means you are far more likely to get the cold, flu, or other viruses circling around your area.

4. You Won’t Be As Alert

Your brain will not be as alert and functional as it would be with a full night of sleep.

Sleep deprivation has been a factor in a few of the biggest disasters in recent history. This includes the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, and the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.

It is also an enormous issue for everyday safety on the road. Being drowsy can slow your reaction time down just as much as if you were drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is the cause in about 100,000 auto crashes and around 1500 crash-related deaths a year in the United States.

Poor sleep and sleep loss can also lead to more accidents and injuries at work. On top of that, it will lead to more sick days as well.

5. You Will Age Faster

If the sleep deprivation is a consistent issue, you could have issues with aging faster as well.

Typically you will experience puffy eyes and sallow eyes after a night or two of missed sleep. Over time, however, regular sleep loss can lead to fine lines, lackluster skin, and deep, dark circles under your eyes.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases a lot more of the stress hormone cortisol. With excess amounts, cortisol can actually break down your skin collagen, which is the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.

Excessive sleep loss also causes your body to not release enough human growth hormone. As we age, this helps increase your muscle mass, thicken your skin, and strengthen bones.

6. Your Judgement May Be Impaired

Your brain will not be as alert and functional as it would be with a full night of sleep. Lacking sleep can affect your interpretation of events, which hurts your ability to make sound judgments because you may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely.

People that are sleep deprived seem to be extra prone to poor judgement when it comes to realizing what their lack of sleep is doing to them. Since we do live in a very fast–paced world, it is fairly normal to try to sleep less. However, sleep specialists have stated that if you believe you are doing just fine on less sleep, you are most likely not judging the situation correctly.

If you work in a profession where you need to be sharp and have perfect judgement of how you are functioning, this can be a huge problem.

Studies have also shown that over time, people who are consistently getting 5-6 hours of sleep instead of the normal 7-8 actually get used to it. They believe that they are functioning at the same levels they were previously, even though that isn’t true. Their mental health and performance would be declining, but they would feel like they were still acting and thinking the exact same way. There is a point in sleep deprivation where you will literally lose touch with how impaired you are.

How To Avoid Sleep Deprivation

Now that we have discussed some of the common issues you may experience with sleep deprivation, here are some quick tips to avoid it all together.

Keep A Schedule

One great way to keep your sleeping on track is to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. This gets your body used to the habit of sleep at the same time and helps you to avoid staying up too late and losing sleep.

Avoid Certain Substances

Avoid consuming caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine later in the day. This can actually affect your sleep and make you stay up later. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants which will stop you from falling asleep, and alcohol will not allow you to sleep as well.

Keep It Comfortable

Have a cool, comforting sleeping area. Make sure that it is dark and doesn’t have many distractions either. That way you are able to go to bed without being overstimulated by light or strange sounds.

Wind Down First

Do something relaxing before you go to bed. This could include taking a warm bubble bath, reading a book, doing yoga, etc. That way you are able to wind down and relax your mind before attempting to go straight to sleep.

Sleep Well

woman happily sleeping

image source: pixabay.com

Sleep is so vitally important to everything we do – make sure that you are not missing out on it. We hope you found our list of potential side effects to sleep deprivation helpful.

What ways do you use to maintain a regular sleep schedule?

Sleep is so vitally important to everything we do – make sure that you are not missing out on it. We hope you found our list of potential side effects to sleep deprivation helpful.

What ways do you use to maintain a regular sleep schedule?