Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation – What Happens If You Don’t Sleep Enough

If you spend the whole night tossing and turning, not getting any sleep you may have a hard time the next day. If this has been going on for a while, and you’re experiencing trouble concentrating, extreme hunger and mood swings, chances are you have some symptoms of sleep deprivation.

What Is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is the result of sleep restriction. One night of poor sleep can lead to what’s known as acute sleep deprivation. If it’s only one night of inadequate sleep, your body can make up for it and it’s nothing to worry about.

If you frequently have trouble sleeping, you may have chronic sleep deprivation. It’s when it gets into the chronic phase of sleep restriction that you may have something that needs medical attention.

Main Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

There is a whole host of symptoms that come with sleep deprivation. There are physiological symptoms, emotional or cognitive symptoms, and finally, you have extreme sleep deprivation effects.

Let’s take a look at each of these categories and see how they may be changing your life.

Physiological Symptoms

Physiological symptoms are symptoms that affect the body’s responses. These are symptoms that we have no control over.

Our body does what it wants to do when it comes to these symptoms. Let’s take a look at each of them with a little more detail:

  • Hunger: increased hunger could be a result of increased stress hormone cortisol caused by a lack of sleep.
  • Weight Gain: over long-term having sleep deprivation will cause a stress response in the body. The effects of long-term sleep deprivation and increased hunger will lead to weight gain.
  • Illness: when you’re not sleeping, your body has no time to heal and rejuvenate. If you’re getting sick, it could be one of the sleep deprivation effects, because insomnia affects your body’s immune system.
  • Clumsy: another one of the physiological sleep deprivation symptoms is clumsiness or a lack of coordination. If you find that the wall seems to jump out and bite you, that you trip over your own two feet, or you drop and fumble things you may just need a little bit more sleep.
  • Blood Pressure: this can be one of the scarier symptoms of insomnia and sleep deprivation. Not giving your body enough time to repair can cause wild swings in blood pressure. If you’re having trouble regulating your blood pressure, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep.
  • Low Sex Drive: decreased libido is one of the side effects of not sleeping well for prolonged periods of time. It’s not a direct symptoms of sleep deprivation, but a consequence. Insomnia cause fatigue and emotional and physical stress, which leads to low sex drive. For men, sleep deprivation is a cause of low testosterone, which causes low libido.

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

  • Other complications:
    • Increased joint inflammation and arthritis.
    • Reduced strength, slower reaction time and motor learning.
    • Tremors.
    • Continuous yawning.

Emotional And Cognitive Consequences

Emotional and cognitive effects of sleep deprivation can seem like something we have the ability to control.

Unfortunately, with these sleep deprivation symptoms it may not be a delicate disposition, but a chemical imbalance due to lack of sleep.

Let’s take a look at some of the emotional consequences of sleep deprivation:

  • Impulsive: if you find yourself buying things you shouldn’t, or eating things you shouldn’t, this increased impulsiveness could be just another symptom of insomnia. If you just gave birth and suffer from sleep deprivation, you probably realized that it is so much easier now to pick a fight.
  • Emotional: if you cry at the drop of a hat, or yell at your coworker for chewing too loudly, this could another sign of sleep deprivation. If you’re not sleeping and you’re extra cranky, the two are definitely related.
  • Poor Memory: if you’re suffering from a poor memory and you’re not sleeping you can rest assured that increase sleep should improve your memory.
  • Indecisive: one of the most frequent symptoms of sleep deprivation is the inability to make a decision. You may notice this when you go out to breakfast after a long night where you didn’t sleep. The ability to choose what you’ll have for breakfast may seem impossible. Instead of breakfast, try going back to sleep for another few hours.
  • Symptoms similar to ADHD: this is probably one of the caffeine side effects, when the subject tries to compensate their lack of focus with too much coffee.

Extreme Sleep Deprivation Effects

In psychological experiments, scientists documented some severe sleep deprivation symptoms. The effects of sleep deprivation over a long period are so severe that experiments with forced sleep deprivation are considered unethical.

If you can’t sleep, here are some of the scary effects of not getting enough sleep:

  • Micro-sleeps: micro-sleeps are where you fall asleep with your eyes open, and you don’t even know you were asleep. Micro-sleeps can occur for up to one minute every other minute, and you don’t even know you’ve been sleeping.
  • Deliriumnothing says I haven’t slept like going crazy. Delirium is another one of the symptoms of sleep deprivation that can affect our lives.
  • Hallucinations: probably the worst of the long-term sleep deprivation symptoms is hallucinations. People who have been forcibly deprived of sleep have experienced both auditory and visual hallucinations.


Now you have the low down on everything you can expect if you don’t get good sleep for several nights in a row.

The most important thing to do in these cases is to analyze what the causes of insomnia could be and work on improving your environment (make the room darker, turn off electronic devices etc.).

If you have a newborn baby in the house it’s going to be tough for a while, but things will get better, and in the meantime you should take turns with your man. Or have the grandparents or a baby sitter help you, so you can sleep more during the day.

Then you should learn about home remedies for insomnia, or sleep deprivation treatments, and go see the doctor if nothing seems to be working!

In the meantime, try to get some sleep and see if the signs of sleep deprivation improve. Good luck!

Have you ever experienced insomnia? What symptoms did you have?


Return to Home Page


NOTE: We’ve used sleep deprivation and insomnia to talk about the same thing. That is not completely true. Technically, sleep deprivation is a consequence of insomnia. For more information, please read about sleep deprivation vs insomnia.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts