Sleep Deprivation – Everything You Need To Know

Sleep deprivation is a condition where individuals suffer from a lack of sleep. Sleep is an essential biological process that plays a crucial role in maintaining physical and mental health. A lack of sleep can have a negative impact on alertness, performance, emotional well-being, and health. It can be acute or chronic, varying in severity. 

Adequate sleep is particularly important during early childhood, as it is linked to cognitive development and learning. Sleep deprivation can have negative effects on cognitive functioning; including attention, memory, and problem-solving abilities. 

Toddler sleeping peacefully on an organic latex mattress.

Sleep Deprivation Versus Insomnia

Insomnia and sleep deprivation are two different sleep disorders, but they are often confused. 

Sleep deprivation is when a person does not get enough sleep and doesn’t get the recommended amount of rest. It can be caused by busy schedules, stress, or other life circumstances. 

Mom suffering from sleep deprivation laying awake next to her baby.

Insomnia, on the other hand, is a chronic inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. It is typically caused by underlying medical conditions or mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. 

Symptoms of both sleep deprivation and insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. 

While sleep deprivation can be remedied with lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep or reducing stress. Insomnia, on the other hand, usually requires medical intervention.

Man who has fallen asleep at his desk due to sleep deprivation.

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

According to the Institute of Medicine (2006), chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a wide range of health issues; including depression, stress, obesity, and even heart disease. Other common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, irritability, fatigue, mood swings, headaches and digestive issues.

Person holding an alarm clock in bed.

It’s important to keep track of your sleep patterns over time to determine whether your sleep deprivation is temporary or chronic. If you’re consistently not getting the recommended amount of sleep (7-8 hours for adults) on a regular basis, then it is likely to be a chronic issue. 

Common Causes of Sleep Deprivation

Common causes include irregular sleep schedules, stress, or the use of stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine. Sleep deprivation can also be a result of poor sleep habits, stress, anxiety, depression, or other medical conditions. 

It is important to identify the cause of sleep deprivation to determine if it is temporary or chronic. 

If the cause is temporary, it may be possible to overcome it by making lifestyle changes. 

Lavender and chamomile tea - common remedies for sleep deprivation.

Such changes may include developing a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants late in the day, and avoiding bright screens before bed. 

What are the consequences of sleep deprivation?

Some of the most common consequences include:

  1. Fatigue and lack of energy 
  2. Decreased cognitive function: Sleep is essential for cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making. 
  3. Increased risk of accidents: When you’re tired, your reaction time slows down, and you may be more prone to making mistakes. 
  4. Impaired immune function: A lack of sleep makes it harder for your body to fight off infections and illnesses. 
  5. Mood changes: Irritability, anxiety, and depression. 
  6. Increased risk of chronic diseases: Such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. 
  7. Impaired athletic performance: Sleep deprivation can lead to decreased endurance, slower reaction times, and reduced accuracy. 
Invigorated woman exercising on a treadmill.

Overall, the condition can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health, as well as your quality of life. It’s important to prioritise getting enough sleep each night to avoid these negative consequences.

Attention and Working Memory

Sleep deprivation can have a major impact on our attention and working memory. 

Toddler playing with toys that help enhance fine motor skills.

Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep have a harder time focusing on tasks and staying on task, as well as difficulty with recall and learning. 

Rest has a direct effect on your working memory (the ability to remember and use information for a short period of time).

Without enough sleep, our brain’s capacity to create and store new memories may be impaired, and our working memory is less efficient at retrieving information. 

This can lead to poor decision-making and increased errors, as well as a decrease in work productivity. Therefore, getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining alertness, concentration, and working memory.

Dad helping his daughter study.

Sleep and Your Mood

Sleep deprivation has a significant impact on mood. 

When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies and minds don’t function at their best. 

This can lead to feelings of irritability, sadness, and frustration. 

Lack of sleep can also lead to a decrease in our motivation, making it harder to accomplish our goals. 

Man looking at his mobile phone in the middle of the night because he is suffering from sleep deprivation.

Over time, these effects can become more pronounced, leading to depression and other mental health issues. It’s important to make sure we prioritize getting enough sleep so that we can stay healthy and maintain a positive mood.

Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain

Studies show sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain.

The lack of sleep can lead to an increase in hunger hormones, such as ghrelin, and a decrease in hormones that make us feel full, such as leptin. This can cause us to eat more than we need and can lead to an increase in body weight. 

Energetic senior citizens participating in an exercise class.

Poor sleep can also lead to an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone that is associated with an increase in belly fat. Additionally, inadequate sleep can affect our metabolic rate, leading to an increase in calorie intake and storage of fat. 

Studies have found that people who got less than 7 hours of sleep per night were more likely to gain weight than those who got 7 or more hours of sleep per night. 

Treatment and Prevention

Sleep deprivation is a major issue for many people, and it can have a serious impact on our physical and mental health. Fortunately, there are some steps we can take to both treat and prevent sleep deprivation. 

Energetic young girl playing soccer.

First and foremost, it is important to understand the importance of getting regular, quality sleep. This means establishing a regular sleep schedule and following it each night.

It also means investing in a good mattress, such as an organic latex mattress. Not only are these mattresses extremely comfortable, but they are also breathable and offer excellent support, making them ideal for anyone suffering from sleep deprivation. 

Mom and daughter giggling in bedroom before bed.

In addition to creating a healthy sleep environment, it is also important to avoid stimulants near bedtime, such as caffeine and sugar. These can prevent the body from getting the restful sleep it needs. Additionally, engaging in calming activities before bed, such as reading or meditating, can help prepare the body for sleep. 

Finally, if you are still struggling with sleep deprivation, it may be worth considering light therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy to help you manage the issue. By following these steps, you can treat and prevent sleep deprivation and ensure you get the quality sleep your body needs.

Sleep deprived woman behind the wheel of her car.

Sleep is a vital aspect of human life. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is a common issue faced by many individuals in today’s fast-paced world. 

Lack of sleep can have adverse effects on cognitive development, leading to impaired cognitive function, decreased productivity, and poor academic and job performance. 

In this context, understanding the relationship between sleep and cognitive development is crucial for individuals seeking to optimize their cognitive abilities and overall well-being.

Toddler playing with wooden toys that help enhance hand-eye coordination.

Managing Sleep Deprivation Naturally

While there are various strategies to manage sleep deprivation, investing in a high-quality organic latex mattress can be particularly beneficial. 

Organic latex mattresses are made from natural materials and are free of harmful chemicals, providing a healthier sleeping environment. 

Additionally, the inherent qualities of latex, such as its responsiveness, durability, and breathability, can promote better sleep quality and reduce the risk of sleep disturbances. 

By prioritising our sleep and choosing a mattress that supports our body and health, we can effectively manage sleep deprivation and enjoy the many benefits of a restful night’s sleep.

Woman drinking fruit juice in her kitchen after a good night's rest.

To find out more about enhancing your sleep quality, refer to our post: How to Sleep Better.


Altevogt, B., Colten, H. (2006). “Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem.”Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research. Available from: <>. [Accessed March 2023].