What happens with sleep deprivation?


January 9, 2024

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How does your body react when you are sleep-deprived? The mystery is over! In this article, we will discuss sleep deprivation and what it can do to your body. We'll also answer questions like:

  • What can sleepless nights do to you?
  • Why do some people have trouble sleeping?
  • Is sleep deprivation a symptom of something else?
  • What is the best way to overcome sleep deprivation?

When you are sleep deprived, your body will not function properly. A common side effect is a dizziness and lightheadedness. Physical and mental health can be affected by lack of sleep, including libido, brain functions, and weight. Long-term effects of sleep deprivation include heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and depression.

What can no sleep do to you?

The five most basic needs for human beings to survive in the world are food, water, sleep, shelter, and sex. 7 to 8 hours is considered a good amount of sleep you need to get as an adult; whereas children, especially babies, need more hours of sleep than adults.

Therefore, seeing how important sleep is to your well-being goes without saying that the lack of sleep can have adverse negative effects on your body.

What happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep:

Brain functions:

It can have a severe negative impact on your memory. You become more forgetful because your brain is not getting enough time to consolidate information into your memory.

You may also experience having trouble gathering your thoughts together. Without proper rest, our brain loses its efficiency in organizing ideas and making room for more.

Libido drive:

Lack of sleep can significantly reduce your sex drive. Many studies show that men who don’t get proper sleep experience a dip in testosterone levels, resulting in a lower sex drive.

Weight gain:

A poor sleep cycle can also have an impact on your body weight. You are more likely to overeat when you don’t get enough sleep because your brain loses its ability to send the correct hunger signals.

Heart problems:

It can cause an increase in blood pressure, which makes you more susceptible to heart diseases.

Low immunity:

Lack of sleep can put you at risk for illnesses, such as the common cold and flu.  

What are the causes of lack of sleep?

There are many answers about what causes sleep loss, such as medical conditions, food intake, stress, and lifestyle. Here are the four most answers to what causes sleep deprivation in adults:

Sleep disorders:

The primary cause of sleep loss is sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy.


When you experience a lot of stress in your life about work, family, or friends, you tend to lose sleep. Other major life events like a break-up, death, or divorce can also lead to sleep deprivation.


If you suffer from a condition, whether chronic or acute, it can play a role in depriving you of sleep. Especially with people who have illnesses like cancer, depression, and schizophrenia, irregular sleep is prevalent.


Frequent travelers, people who work night shifts in offices, a new life event like having a newborn baby, etc., can also impact your sleep schedule.

What is chronic sleep deprivation?

Chronic sleep deprivation is a condition in which you sleep less than the required amount for your body to function optimally. There are many problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and depression.

 What are the symptoms of sleep deprivation?

  • Extreme daytime sleepiness
  • Low concentration
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Reduced energy
  • Increased irritability
  • Shorter attention span
  • Impaired thinking

There are many ways in how lack of sleep affects you. Some of the most common effects are lethargy and inactiveness. It also makes you experience a lot of mood swings and exasperation. Not only that, but you also become absentminded and have poor decision-making skills.

To conquer sleep deprivation, you need to be aware of how to know if you’re sleep-deprived. One significant telltale sign of having chronic sleep deprivation is experiencing extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day. Another sign of sleep deprivation is mood swings. If you seem rather moody and easily irritable, then you may be experiencing sleep deprivation.

When you are sleep-deprived, you also tend to yawn more frequently than average. You may also feel lethargic, sluggish, and overall body weakness. Research states that if you don’t get enough sleep, your brain does not get enough time to process the day’s information. Therefore, you may experience memory loss and forgetfulness.

What happens if you don’t sleep for 24 hours?

If you don’t sleep for 24 hours or more, you may become increasingly irritable and tired. There can be an increase in blood pressure, which will make you feel dizzy and lightheaded. You are also prone to making wrong judgments and not thinking straight when you don’t sleep for 24 hours.

How to overcome sleep deprivation?

Fortunately, there are many ways on how to deal with sleep deprivation. Here are five options for what to do when you don’t get enough sleep. 


Exercising makes your body feel tired, so you are more likely to fall asleep more easily. If you’re not a fan of heavy activity, you can dedicate a day to walking instead. However, make sure that you don’t exercise at a time that is close to when you sleep.

Sleep hygiene:

Make some changes to your external environment, such as your lifestyle or even just redesigning your bedroom. It is good to set boundaries and be careful not to overexert yourself and restrict yourself mentally and physically.

Avoid external stimulations: 

Try to limit electronics such as TVs and phones when you sleep to don’t keep your brain stimulated.

Watch what you eat:

Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol as much as possible before

bedtime or limit intake altogether. It would help if you also tried not to eat

any heavy meals before sleep. 

How much is sleep deprivation dangerous?

Sleep deprivation symptoms get worse the longer you stay awake. According to sleep researchers:

  • Being awake for 48 hours will make you hallucinate and experience anxiety. 
  • Being awake for 72 hours will impair your perception. 
  • Being awake for 96 hours will make you experience sleep deprivation psychosis. 

Most people can function normally even after losing 24 hours of sleep. However, if this becomes a regular habit, it can lead to life-threatening scenarios. Knowing how to deal with sleep deprivation helps you deal with the dangers of sleep deprivation and keeps track of your sleep.


Watch this video to learn more about what happens when you don’t sleep.