Physical & Psychological Signs of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation or lack of sleep is a commonly encountered problem today. This is likely because of long working hours, family responsibilities, household chores, commutes, and lifestyle habits etc. In order to manage everything within 24 hours, we often tend to compromise on our sleep. Other causes of lack of sleep are related to stress, hormonal issues, and mental conditions. Adequate sleep is vital for normal functioning of the body. Lack of sleep can take a toll on our health at physical as well as psychological level. The signs of being sleep deprived as discussed below:

Physical & Psychological Signs of Sleep Deprivation

Physical and Psychological Signs of Sleep Deprivation

Physical Signs of Sleep Deprivation

Increased Blood Pressure: Studies have proved that, lack of sleep leads to increased resting blood pressure. Even lack of one night’s sleep can affect the blood pressure of the person.

Increased Hunger as a Sign of Sleep Deprivation: Staying up at night increases the urge to snack at night. The brain enhances pleasure response from eating. This often leads to weight gain and obesity.

Increased Risk of Developing Heart Issues: Sleep deprivation has been directly linked to increased risk of developing heart issues and cardiac morbidity.

Poor Brain Efficiency: Lack of sleep affects the functioning of the brain. With lack of sleep, the brain cannot function as efficiently as it normal does. This can be demonstrated with a brain imaging study which shows pumping of energy into the prefrontal cortex, due to lack of rest from sleep deprivation.

Psychological Signs of Sleep Deprivation

Short-term Memory Loss: Sleep deprivation affects the memory of the individual. There is often short term memory loss, such as difficulty with remembering telephone numbers, dates etc.

Long-term Memory Loss: Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can also affect the long term memory of the person. The human brain is designed to process what has happened to us and consolidate our learning while we are sleeping. With lack of sleep this process is disrupted leading to difficulty with remembering long term memory and learning new skills.

Lack of Attention: Over a period of time sleep deprivation starts affecting the overall attention span of the person. He or she may not be able to focus over a particular subject for long which in turn worsens the learning difficulty. This is often associated with feeling of distraction, irritation and tiredness. This can also increase the chances of getting into car crash while driving.

Poor Decision Making Skills: With lack of sleep, the brain is unable to function properly and thus makes it difficult to make a rational decision. There is lack of coordination, mental block and indecisiveness.

Dependency on Unhealthy Habits: Extended periods of sleep deprivation often leads to dependency on habits, such as smoking, alcoholism, caffeine intake etc. These can have harmful effect on the health of the individual.

Risky Business Plan: It has been noted that late night poker player often get stuck in a strategic rut and he or she is unable to change their game plan. Similarly, in other situation as well, the brain is unable to function and assess the risk of action involved.

Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Damage to Brain Cells: Over a period of time, there may be irreversible changes in the brain and damage in the brain cells. This is mainly because, the brain does not receive adequate rest and the brain cells are over strained.

Mania as a Sign of Sleep Deprivation: In extreme cases, sleep deprivation may lead to development of symptoms such as psychosis, hallucinations, aggression, paranoia, extremely high energy level etc.

Poor Stress Threshold: Lack of sleep often leads to feeling tired throughout the day. There is lack of energy which makes it difficult to withstand any additional stress. Minor changes in routine activity can add stress to the mind. For example, stopping at the grocery store while getting back home from work can lead to excessive irritation and restlessness.

Decrease in Optimism and Sociability as a Sign of Sleep Deprivation: Sleep deprivation affects our thinking and makes us feel hopeless and negative in life. The person seems unapproachable and unfriendly.

Impaired Creativity and Innovation: Lack of sleep affects our cognitive thinking. The brain is unable to process something new which affects our creativity and innovation.


The physical and psychological signs of sleep deprivation are often very drastic. However, a simple way to avoid all these is a proper deep sleep. Sleeping for an optimum hour required by the body is very essential to have a healthy mind and body.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 21, 2018

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