Health & Wellness

30 Mar 2021 admin

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation


Do you remember how cranky and tired you were all day the last time you didn’t get enough sleep the night before? Then it should not surprise you that not getting enough sleep over a long period of time can have adverse effects on your health and well-being.

Sleep deprivation is a form of sleep deficiency where you don’t get the required hours of sleep per day.

  How many hours of sleep do you actually need?

To prevent sleep deprivation, sleep experts recommend:

  • 7-9 hours of sleep/night if you are between the ages of 18-64.
  • 7-8 hours of sleep/night if you are 65years and above.

A publication by the Public Health Agency of Canada revealed that 1 in 4 adults aged 18-34,

1 in 3 adults aged 35-64 and 1 in 4 adults aged 65-79 are not getting enough sleep based on the recommendations above.


Types of Sleep Deprivation

There are two different types of sleep deprivation:

Acute Sleep Deprivation:

This refers to when you don’t get enough sleep for a short period, typically a few days. This may be due to a sudden change in lifestyle or pressure to meet up with a deadline.

Chronic Sleep Deprivation:

When you don’t get enough sleep for three months or longer, you may be dealing with chronic sleep deprivation.


Causes of Sleep Deprivation

The cause of sleep deprivation can be linked to lifestyle choices which may be due to:

Voluntary Behaviour

Some lifestyle behaviors can cause you to sleep for less time than you require. While you may not intentionally choose to restrict your sleep, voluntary behaviors like spending too much time on your phone, hanging out with friends late into the night, and watching late-night movies may reduce your sleep time.

Work Requirements

Certain jobs may require you to put in hours that may restrict your sleep time and cut down on your hours of sleep. If you run multiple jobs with different shifts, you may not have enough time to sleep.

Personal Responsibilities

Some personal responsibilities may cause you to lose sleeping hours. For instance, if you suddenly have to meet a deadline or complete a project urgently, you may be required to sacrifice your sleep hours, leading to sleep deprivation. If you need to care for a sick loved one, you may also need to stay up all through the night.

Medical Conditions

If you are continuously not getting enough sleep, it may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. You may have developed sleeping disorders, an example of which is sleep apnea. Health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, which affect the nerve cells, can also disturb your sleep and lead to sleep deprivation.


The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

When you don’t get enough sleep, it can have short-term and long-term effects on your health.

Some Of The Short Term Effects Of Sleep Deprivation Are: Irritability:

Not getting enough sleep can make you moody and easily irritated. This can make you snap at others and harm your relationships.

Low alertness:

You may feel groggy all day if you don’t get enough sleep. Your attention span may also decline as you may find yourself zoning into microsleeps.


Your body needs sleep to rejuvenate itself. Without enough sleep, you will spend the day feeling tired and disinterested in other activities.

Memory problems:

You may find it hard to remember small details if you don’t get enough sleep the previous night. You may also find it hard to process basic or new information.


One of the leading causes of road accidents is due to drowsy driving. People who drive drowsy often don’t get enough sleep hours in a day, making it more likely for them to doze off while driving. You may also be prone to domestic accidents while cooking or doing other house chores.


Long Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation

If you are continuously sleep deprived, it can have long term effects on your health, such as:

Lowered Immunity

Getting less than the required hours of sleep in a day weakens your body’s immunity system. Your body needs enough sleep and rest to build immunity against viral infections that cause respiratory diseases. When your immunity is lowered, you are more likely to fall sick when exposed to these infectious agents.

Weight Gain

When you don’t get enough sleep, your chances of eating more calories than you need increase. This may happen because insufficient sleep is linked with low levels of leptin (the hormone that makes you feel full and inhibit hunger). You may also have increased secretion of ghrelin (the hormone that makes you hungry.) These hormonal changes make you eat more, add weight, and increases your tendency to get obese.


Lower hours of sleep affect your body’s ability to regulate body sugar, putting you at a higher risk of becoming diabetic.

Heart Problems

Reduced sleep hours may increase your chances of developing cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, a heart attack, or even a stroke.

Hormonal Imbalances

During sleep hours and extended rest, your body regulates hormones in your body. If you are sleep deprived, your body may not be able to produce and regulate essential hormones. An example is the production of the hormones that boost fertility which is affected when you don’t sleep for enough hours. The symptoms associated with insufficient sleep may also trigger the excess release of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine.

Mental Health Issues

Chronic sleep deprivation affects your brain’s proper functioning, especially the parts that handle reasoning and emotions. Your cognitive abilities may become impaired, and you may struggle with forming new memories. Some mental health conditions like depression and anxiety have also been linked with poor sleep.


Chronic sleep deprivation can also affect your physical appearance. You may start to age prematurely with early wrinkles and dark circles. Your skin may also begin to look rough and lose its elasticity.



Getting at least the required hours of sleep per day can be the difference between living a long and healthy life or being susceptible to different health conditions. It is advisable to set out enough time per day to sleep. You should also make lifestyle adjustments like flexible work hours and take frequent short naps if you need to.   Speak with a doctor at MD Connected about your symptoms and get a treatment option tailored specifically to your needs by visiting  


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