ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sleep Deprivation: Are We All Suffering?

Updated on June 6, 2021
Sam Shepards profile image

I'm Sam. I enjoy writing about sleep and mental health-related topics as well as ways to prevent stress and relax.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers sleep deprivation as a public health epidemic.

Sleep deprivation, or lack of sleep, is a condition that affects millions of people all over the world. Sleep is essential for your health, during sleep your body is rejuvenated and you process and filter information through dreams. It is also important for restoring muscular energy and growth.

What is enough sleep?

The optimum average amount of sleep for adults is between 7 to 9 hours per day. Lack of sleep causes tiredness during the day like: aching muscles, blurred vision, frequent yawning, headaches, irritability, nausea and, memory problems and difficulty concentrating. There are many different effects on the short term and long term, which will be mentioned in this article.

Symptoms of sleep deprivation

To determine whether someone has sleep deprivation it is important to know what sleep deprivation is not. When you are deprived of sleep you will start to show multiple signs that occur together:

  • Irritability, being angry at everyone and everything
  • Tiredness, thinking of sleep and feeling totally drained
  • Socially challenged, difficulty in interacting with other people because you can’t process conversations anymore on a normal level
  • Feeling extreme pressure, like the world is on your shoulders and you feel completely helpless
  • Memory loss, the feeling of having “fog” in your mind making it difficult to recollect memories
  • Unable to concentrate, slower reaction time and difficulty in steering the mind to a certain goal.

Combined they form the signs of sleep deprivation, but separate they could indicate some other problem, like a certain drug overdose or injury. As is often the case with cognitive problems there could be many causes for these sleep deprivation symptoms; that is why it’s important to know your own behavior when you are healthy. For someone who is normally very social it can be difficult to notice a decrease in their own social skills after being deprived of their sleep. Humans have a self-awareness and this can help them to be aware of a change in their own behavior.

Sleep Deprivation Effects on brain and behavior

A decade ago a study showed that a rat that didn’t sleep for three weeks would die because of its inability to regulate the bodily processes. Sleep is necessary to regenerate certain parts of the body like the brain, in order to keep the bodily functions at an optimal level. After succeeding periods of extended wakefulness or sleep deprivation neurons could start to malfunction. Behavior is heavily related to the function of our brain and it is, for the most part, made out of neurons. So if sleep deprivation causes neurons to malfunction, your behavior is influenced by the amount of sleep you have.

The brain never actually rests completely, even during sleep; it is merely in a semi-alert state of “quiet readiness”. Sleep can be split up into different stages, divided by the difference in activities of the brain, some of them are needed for regenerating neurons within the cerebral cortex; others are needed for forming new memories and generating new connections. These stages are separate from each other, meaning that you can only reach certain stages of sleep when you sleep long enough.

It has been noted by Pilcher et al. (1996) that when someone abstains from sleep for longer periods their neurons are probably affected; this can cause slurred speech.

Research on high schools also showed that students who went to sleep 40 minutes later than their classmates scored on average a lower grade. Sleep deprivation is a major cause for accidents in traffic, it is not difficult to imagine why: a combination of irritability and slower reaction time can be dangerous while driving.

Determine the right amount of sleep

There are theories about sleep duration and how a magical amount of hours are sufficient for everyone. These theories have been proven false and there are two main reasons for this. The sufficient amount of sleep someone would need consists of two factors:

  • A. Basal Sleep

    A person’s basal sleep, the amount of sleep someone needs to recover

  • B. Sleep Debt

    Sleep debt, the amount of sleep that is lost due to different causes like: poor sleep habits, environmental noise, sickness etc.

To know how much basal sleep you need you could start with a baseline: when you are healthy and have no other complications, start sleeping in a comfortable and serene environment and try to sleep for different amounts of hours over a few days. Now you know how much sleep you actually need and you can determine how much sleep you need on days where you have a sleep debt. On average research has shown that 7 hours of sleep is sufficient for most adults.

But it is also important to know that each age group has their own average amount of sleep, the older people are the lower the average amount of sleep becomes. So it is important to determine your own level of basal sleep because there is no guarantee that 7 hours is enough for you. Below is a schema that shows the average amount of sleep by age:

Sleep Hours
0-2 months
2-12 months
1-3 years
3-5 years
5-12 years
12-21 years
21-x years

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Simple sleep solutions

There are simple methods to help you fall asleep:

  • Make your bedroom a place without distraction, comfortable,warm enough and dark, purely for sleep. It is imperative that you make the bedroom a place you routinely visit for sleep.
  • Adjust the temperature to your own liking, usually it is between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius
  • Adjust the lighting so that it doesn’t shine directly on your face, keep night lights as far away as possible. Because the eyes can still sense light on them even closed.
  • No noise, most people sleep best when there is no noise during their sleep. But if you prefer some noise try to use ambient sounds or other relaxing music, the best music is without any vocals.
  • Loosen muscles, lie on your back and start from the tips of your toes all the way to your head.
  • Deep breathing helps relax the mind and body to sleep levels

Sleep deprivation conclusion

There are many methods to fall asleep, but it is always important not to overthink it. A busy mind is often the main cause when you can’t fall asleep. But the mind and body are influenced by each other and it is this connection that you can use. Relax your body with the techniques described above to relax your mind and you will probably have no difficulty anymore to fall asleep.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Sam Shepards


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)