Sleep Deprivation Effects: Side Effects From Missing Sleep

Sleep and health are best friends, they hang out every day and help each other become better and stronger. Sleeping badly may slow you down a bit the following day, make you feel grumpy and a little unable to focus. But, the odd rough night’s sleep is not damaging to your overall health. Chronic sleep deprivation that is experienced multiple times per week could have some long-term ill-health effects. The definition of sleep deprived is sleeping less than 7 hours per night, as most adults need 7 hours of quality sleep every night to maintain health. Let’s talk about sleep deprivation, how to manage it, and how to prevent loss of sleep.   

Table of Contents 

  • What Is Sleep Deprivation?
  • Definition of Sleep Deprivation 
  • Causes of Sleep Deprivation 
  • What Are the Signs of Sleep Deprivation?
  • Physical Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
  • Other Effects of Sleep Deprivation 
  • Short-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation 
  • Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation
  • Sleep Deprivation Treatment
  • Preventing Sleep Deprivation 
  • Conclusion 

Infographic showing the healthy benefits of sleep.

What Is Sleep Deprivation?

If you sleep less than 7 hours per night you could be suffering from sleep deprivation: a chronic loss of quality sleep can affect the immune system, cause high blood pressure, cause memory issues, lack of concentration, and heart problems.  

Definition of Sleep Deprivation 

Most adults need 7 hours of sleep every night to maintain health and mental wellbeing. The definition of sleep deprivation is categorized by a chronic loss of sleep that hinders your ability to function during your waking hours.

Causes of Sleep Deprivation 

Sleep deprivation is the result of a chronic lack of sleep. Common sleep deprivation causes include sleep disorders, poor sleep hygiene, stress and other mental health symptoms, adjusting to a new medication, environmental changes, and underlying health conditions. 

What Are the Signs of Sleep Deprivation?

Sleeping poorly on a regular basis can cause some unwelcome physical, mental, and emotional effects

  • Feeling sleepy during your waking hours
  • Inability to concentrate on your daily tasks
  • Feeling moody and irritable 
  • Frequent yawning  

Physical Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

The physical symptoms of sleep deprivation include:

  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Weakened immune system 
  • Feeling physically weak 
  • Daytime fatigue 
  • Low mood 
  • Weight gain 
  • Disturbed hormone production 
  • Risk of accident (especially when driving)  

Other Effects of Sleep Deprivation 

Short-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation 

The short term effects of sleep deprivation is an inability to focus on your daily tasks, moodiness, feeling drowsy, short-term memory problems, stress, increased risk of accident, reduced alertness, lowered cognitive function, and diminished judgment. Sleep deprivation could cause a serious accident if you drive a car or operate heavy machinery.    

Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation

The long term effects of sleep deprivation are very damaging to physical health and mental wellbeing. A lack of sleep over a prolonged period of time puts you at risk of weight gain, diabetes, depression, anxiety, heart attack, high blood pressure, loss of memory, decreased fertility, immune deficiency, and psychiatric disorders. If you’re wondering ‘can lack of sleep cause elevated heart rate?’ Long term sleep deprivation can cause increased blood pressure and increased heart rate.  

Sleep Deprivation Treatment

The best sleep deprivation treatment may seem obvious: sleep. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night to maintain health and restore energy. Sleep deprivation effects can cause hormonal imbalance and a weakened immune system. Balanced hormones are essential to health and it’s during sleep that many other important functions take place. If you’re suffering from a chronic lack of sleep, see your doctor who can diagnose a sleep disorder if you have one. 

    Preventing Sleep Deprivation 

    Sleep deprivation symptoms can be mild or severe and the best treatment is to clean up your sleep hygiene and get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. 

    • Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning
    • Avoid caffeine after midday 
    • Exercise everyday
    • Eat well and drink water every day
    • Avoid using electronics in bed 
    • Enjoy a warm bath or shower before bed to relax 
    • Learn how to get more deep sleep, here


    The symptoms of sleep deprivation can be unpleasant and potentially dangerous. The Effects of lack of sleep can be mild if the episode is rare and the dangers of sleep deprivation are mostly in relation to long-term loss of sleep. If you experience the odd bad night’s sleep, you can recover by having an early night. If your insomnia is chronic, see your doctor as you could have a medical condition that is interfering with your restful sleep. Your quality of life is determined by the quality of sleep, eat well, rest well, for good physical health and mental wellbeing. 

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