What Are the Signs of Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is not getting adequate sleep or disrupting the sleep-wake cycle. A good night’s sleep promotes the science of dreams, taking us to the fairyland of dreams and healthy lifestyles. We do not sleep at one stretch. Sleep has cycles.

If we spend the entire night in bed tossing and turning, we all know how we feel and act the next day: tired, cranky, and out of sorts. Not shutting our eyes nightly for the recommended minimum of 7 hours makes us grumpy and groggy the next day.

Melatonin has not Completed its Tasks!

If you do not get the right amount of sleep, your lifespan may get reduced. The cycles of corrections in your deep sleep cannot be complete. The repair work of the body’s wear and tear throughout the day, and the clearance of toxins accumulated over the day’s toil, are all not flushed out. Melatonin is the hormone that tells us it is time to sleep so it can start its scheduled work inside our body.

My Brain is not at its Best!

If the sleep is insufficient, the brain does not kick start in the morning after waking up. Inadequate sleep drains out your mental and physical abilities. We cannot think sharply and justly. Poor slumber puts our physical well-being at risk and adds several health problems. It lets you put on weight or weaken the immune system.

Effects on Our Body Because of Lack of Sleep

  • You are not as alert as you would after a night’s sound sleep

  • Cannot maintain attentiveness or focus on your tasks

  • Reaction time or reflex decreases

  • Cannot make correct decisions and judgments or poor decision making

  • Lack of awareness or wakefulness

  • Memory loss or cannot remember certain or recent things

  • Cannot maintain concentration

  • Feeling restless, worked up, fidgety, things not right

  • Mood changes and swings, feeling freaky and unstable

  • Blood pressure rises, and the risk of diabetes as sugar/insulin does not work at its best

  • Low on sex, risk of heart disease, poor balance

Sleep Cycle of Your Total Sleep for the Day

After falling asleep, the body naturally enters stage 1 and moves in and out of stages 2 and 3. Then enter stage 4 - REM and dreams.

Stage 1 - Light Sleep

You are at the threshold of sleeping. It is a shorter period of sleep (5% of total sleeping hours), and you are at the beginning right after you fall asleep.

Stage 2 - Deeper Sleep

This stage is deeper, contributing 45% of your total sleep. It goes up as we age. It is the stage for memory storage and learning.

Stage 3 - Deepest Sleep

It contributes about 25% of your total sleep for the day. It goes down as we age. During the deepest sleep stage, the body starts the recovery process. At this stage, it does the maintenance of your body.

The brain prioritizes this stage with sleep-deprived people. It is hard to wake-up people at this stage of their sleep. If you wake them up forcibly, they may feel confused and foggy for the next half hour.

Stage 4 - REM (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep)

It is where the corrections, repair, recovery, and flushing out of toxins completes, and the body slowly comes to rest. It is the stage when you dream. At this stage, the eyes move swiftly beneath their eyelids when closed.

After REM, you go back to stages 1 and 2 if you sleep longer.

Sleep Deprivation Causes

It is difficult to list all the factors causing sleep deprivation. It varies largely. If we single out one predominant factor, it could be the lifestyle and personal choices. We have listed the other factors below.

  • Shift work happens partly or entirely during night hours

  • High stress/anxiety/too much thinking

  • The habit of using gadgets before sleeping. Especially mobile browsing.

  • Sleep disorder/Insomnia/sleep apnea

  • Age-related sleep disorder

  • Illness/medications/disease/underlying health conditions

  • Poor sleep environment

  • Poor sleep hygiene or habits

  • Presence of babies, toddlers, older babies

  • Alcohol misuse/drugs/smoking/caffeine

Sleep Deprivation Symptoms

In Adults

  • Yawning constantly

  • Doze off when not active

  • Grogginess

  • Sleep inertia

  • Irritable and mood swing

  • Daytime naps

In Children

  • Moody and irritable

  • Temper tantrums

  • Daytime naps

Ideal Sleep Duration for all Ages

Average hours you need to sleep according to your age −


Sleep Hours Required

Under 3 months (Newborns)

14-17 hours

4-12 months (Infants)

12-16 hours

1-5 years (Young children)

10-14 hours

6-12 years (School children)

9-12 hours

13-18 years (Teenagers)

8-10 hours

18 years and higher (Adults)

7-9 hours

Sleep Deprivation Diagnosis

Sleep Apnea Test

The test is an overnight sleep lab examination called a polysomnogram with an at-home sleep apnea test device.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

It detects the brainwaves for unusual brain activities contributing to sleep problems.


You wear a device like a watch. It tracks and monitors your sleep patterns to see if you are going through different sleep cycles than usual.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)

It tests if the affected person falls asleep during the day. It helps diagnose narcolepsy.

Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT)

It tests the affected person’s ability to resist sleeping where it would be easy for him to do so. It is for those who earn their living from driving and have sleep apnea.


We do not recommend excessive sleep for your mental and physical health. Maintain the sleep hours according to the chart provided for optimum sleep levels. We have not touched upon Sleep Deprivation Treatment and Prevention of Sleep Deprivation. You can know about the medications, the line of treatments, and prevention by consulting your health physician.

Updated on: 04-May-2023


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