Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Sleep deprivation, We all have been there, feeling tired and de-motivated after a night of minimal to no sleeping. Even after just one night of not getting enough sleep, our body and mind may not function as it should.
You may feel fatigued, craving food, and generally lack energy during the day. Sleep deprivation is when you don’t get enough sleep, a problem which is increasing in recent years.
It his article we will learn more about sleep deprivation, what causes it, symptoms in includes and how we can fix it.


What is sleep deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs when a person does not get enough sleep. The condition can be acute, which means it lasts for a short period of time, or it can be chronic, which means it lasts for a long period of time.
Sleep deprivation can be caused by several factors including:

  • Medical problems like depression, chronic pain, or sleep apnea
  • Work schedules
  • Using electronics close to bedtime
  • Trying to sleep in a noisy environment or not having the right temperature.
  • Anxiety and overthinking


Symptoms of Sleep deprivation

We all know how it feels to be tired. Most of us have experienced the groggy, irritable feeling that comes from being sleep deprived. But what many people don’t realize is that chronic sleep deprivation can have some serious consequences. According to the National Sleep Foundation not getting enough sleep can have several effects on your health. To name some, sleep deprivation can lead to:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Obesity
  • Memory problems and decision-making
  • Impaired judgment
  • Visual and tactile hallucinations
  • Hallucination

In addition, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of accidents and errors due to not being able to think clearly.


Stages of sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation can be broken down into five stages which are determined by the hours you missed sleeping.


Stage 1 (24 hours)
Stage one is when you miss 24 hours of sleep. It won’t cause major problems; the effects are usually as if you are under the influence of alcohol. To name some, you may experience fatigue and brain fog, a slight increase in stress, food cravings, and puffy eyes.


Stage 2 (36 hours)
In the second stage symptoms will be more intense. Your body will have an urge to sleep. Most people may start to have microsleeps without realizing it. You may also have trouble focusing and thinking. Other symptoms you may experience are increased appetite and inflammation, impaired immune function, and reduced memory.


Stage 3 (48 hours)
At this stage you will start to find it harder to stay awake, you might also begin to hallucinate and struggle to communicate with people around you. You may experience extreme fatigue, anxiety and increase in stress levels.


Stage 4 (72 hours)
At this stage you probably won’t be able to remain awake. You won’t be able to think straight and probably your body will shut down into sleep mode anywhere. Your symptoms will get worse, and you may experience more frequent microsleeps and more complex hallucinations.


Stage 5 (96 hours and more)
This is the most extreme stage, where your symptoms will increase even more. You will start to experience longer microsleeps and hallucinating more frequently where you may even struggle to understand what is real and what is not, also known as sleep deprivation psychosis. Many people may experience disordered thinking and depression. If you go 4 days without being able to sleep, it’s time to see a doctor right away.


Treatment for Sleep Deprivation

There are a lot of treatments to support your sleep quality, but the question is which one is right for you? 
Below I mentioned some treatments I recommend, you can try and see which one suits you best:


  • Change your sleep habits

If you’re not getting enough sleep, try to change your sleep habits. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day even on weekends to build a routine. Limit caffeine after 17:00 and drinking alcohol before bedtime. Keep your bedroom quiet and dark. You can also try journaling before bedtime to clear your head. Building a relaxing bedtime routine is one of the most important factors to help you fall asleep and benefit from quality sleeping.


  • Get more exercise

Exercise can help you sleep better. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. And if possible, add 20 minutes of stretching and mobility before sleeping to relax your body.


  • Limit your screen time

The light from screens can interfere with sleep. Avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bed. If possible, keep your devices away from your sleeping area.


  • Practice relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Try deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization. I personally love deep breathing and meditation before sleep. If you find it hard, you can try using an application with guided meditation as a start.


  • Take supplements

I usually recommend taking melatonin and magnesium supplements for my clients who find it hard to fall asleep. Of course, as the name says they are only supplements, so make sure to work on your habits then as a second step you can try adding supplements.


  • Talk to your doctor

If you’re still having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. They can help you identify any underlying medical conditions that may affect your sleep. Usually, they will prescribe medications like Zolpidem, Temazepam, or Butobarbital. I never recommend taking medications unless you have a chronic sleep disorder and couldn’t fix it by changing your daily habits.  



Sleep is one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to general health. You can’t imagine how rapidly your health can decline after not sleeping properly for a few nights. If you have problems sleeping, make sure to build and follow a daily routine and prioritize it with the treatments I mentioned above.  


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