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Can Sleep Deprivation Cause Hallucination?

Sleeping is a part of human life and a way to relax. A person feels fresh and active after a good sleep. A person can involve completely in the day to day work only if they have a satisfactory sleep. Duration of sleeping differs with age and also gender. Even the individuals of the same age group may require sleep in different amounts.

Having less sleep than required is called sleep deprivation which causes many health issues. The signs and symptoms of having sleep deprivation are – inability to concentrate on anything, temporary memory loss, inefficiency at work place, slow learning, failing or being slow in analyzing and taking decisions. Sleep deprivation affects the physical and mental health of humans. Sleep deprivation is also thought to cause hallucination. Let us check whether sleep deprivation can cause hallucination or not.

Can Sleep Deprivation Cause Hallucination?

Yes, sleep deprivation can cause hallucination1. Weakened immune system, increase in body weight, variation in blood pressure, respiratory disorders, fluctuation in production of hormones, depression and even hallucinations are some of the bad effects of lack of sleep. The special property of brain is to filter what is important out of the perceptions from sense organs. It retains the important visions, voices, tastes, touches or the odors and the rest would be kicked out from the memory link. In case of people having not enough sleep, the brain loses the ability to filter the stimulus. In such situations, there would be overload of information in the brain leading to chaos. Due to this, the brain will be in a confused state and the sense organs become too sensitive. The eyes are unable to see the bright light, seeing different colors in white light, some spots or ring like structures in front of eyes, auditory, visual and tactual hallucinations are some of the effects of sleep deprivations. If not taken care of on time, it can slowly lead to psychosis1, 2.

What is Hallucination?

Individuals who do not get enough sleep for many days are at risk of many diseases mostly related to the brain. Hallucination is one such problem. Hallucination is a sensation of perception of something present but in reality which doesn’t exist. There are as many as 5 kinds of hallucinations pertaining to the 5 sense organs:

  • Visual Hallucinations: Visual hallucination is related to the vision wherein a person sees things which is not present at that instance.
  • Auditory Hallucinations: In this type, people hear sound or feel that they can hear people talking around them.
  • Tactile Hallucinations: Tactile hallucinations involve having hallucinations related to the touch sensations.
  • Gustatory Hallucinations: Gustatory hallucinations are related to the taste buds and the hallucination is around experiencing different tastes.
  • Olfactory Hallucinations: In this type, an abnormal sense of smell leads to getting some odor which is not identified by any other person.

How to Recover From Hallucination Caused by Sleep Deprivation?

The only cure for sleep deprivation induced hallucination is sleeping. A good sleep which compensates the deficiency of sleep cures the problems caused due to deprivation of sleep. A person can have a regular sleep and a little extra every day. From sumptuous sleep, many problems related to sleep apnea could be solved.


The duration of sleeping varies from person to person. Let us suppose a person need 10 hours of sleep to maintain health, if he/she gets only 8 hours of sleep daily it is referred to as sleep deprivation. Hence the requirement of sleep depends upon the age and physical and mental condition of people. The scarcity of which may lead to many problems including hallucination.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 8, 2019

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