Important Signs You Need More Sleep

Man struggling to stay awake

Published 11/22/2021

Your body gives you signs you need more sleep when you aren’t getting enough rest. Becoming aware of these signs of sleep deprivation can alert you that it’s time to discuss your sleep issues with your doctor. Getting enough sleep is important for your physical and mental health, and chronic sleep deprivation can lead to short-term symptoms and long-term effects. Read on to learn about the cues your body can give off when you aren’t sleeping enough.

Short-Term Signs You Need More Sleep

Occasional trouble sleeping can cause adults to experience different symptoms than long-term sleep deprivation. If you experience a night or two of insomnia, you’re likely to be affected for a day or two. Symptoms you may notice after this type of intermittent sleeplessness include:

  • Bad mood: You can end up feeling cranky when you don’t get enough sleep. If your sleep shortage is from staying up late, make sleep a priority to avoid the irritability from not getting enough rest.
  • Daytime sleepiness: Not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling drowsy during the day. This type of drowsiness can hit almost any time throughout the day, and for some people is especially likely to occur in the hours after lunch.
  • Headache: Sleep deprivation headaches are the type of headaches you wake up with if you don’t get enough rest. Some other causes of morning headaches include improper sleep position, sleep apnea, and other medical conditions.
  • Learning problems: You might find learning new things is harder than usual when you’ve been experiencing a sleep shortage. Try to schedule a nap or earlier bedtime if you notice it takes longer than normal to learn new things.
  • Poor work productivity: Not getting enough sleep can cause you to be unproductive when working. You might feel as if you’re working as hard as always but end up producing less.
  • Slow reaction time: Your reaction time can be slower than normal when you don’t get enough sleep. This can affect your work, sports and can put you at risk when driving a motor vehicle.
  • Trouble paying attention: Problems focusing can develop when you haven’t gotten enough sleep. This can interfere with your ability to hold a conversation or complete many complex tasks.

Long-Term Signs of Sleep Deprivation

People who experience long-term sleep deprivation are more likely to be smokers and excessive alcohol users. Additionally, when sleep deprivation is chronic, your body can react by getting sick. Some of the conditions that chronic sleeplessness typically requires a doctor to diagnose include:

  • Depression: Depression is one of the mental health changes that can develop if you don’t get enough sleep. It can also go the other way, with depression making it harder to sleep.
  • Early death: In addition to putting you at higher risk of being in a fatal accident, there are rare insomnia-related diseases. One example of this is fatal familial insomnia, which can lead to early death.
  • Elevated risk of accidents: Lack of sleep can create an elevated risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents when driving. It also puts you at a higher risk of falling.
  • Heart disease: Not getting enough sleep on an ongoing basis can elevate your risk of cardiovascular disease. On a related note, it can also increase your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
  • High blood pressure: It’s common for insomnia and high blood pressure to present together in patients. Sleep deprivation effects on the brain include possible impairment and the way the body’s stress function performs.
  • Obesity: Obesity and type 2 diabetes risk increases when you don’t get enough sleep. While not the only reason, one factor in this may be that lack of sleep makes you feel hungrier, so you tend to eat more when you don’t sleep enough.

Signs of Sleep Deprivation in Children

Children can show different sleep deprivation signs than what’s seen in adults. Not getting enough sleep often presents as behavioral issues in the cases of affected children. If you notice these symptoms developing, try to enforce an earlier bedtime and encourage soothing bedtime routines for your child. The symptoms most likely to be found in children who don’t get enough rest include:

  • Anger: A child having a temper tantrum that includes yelling or throwing things can be a sign the child isn’t getting enough sleep.
  • Bad behavior: Acting out and seeking attention through negative behavior is another way children might act when not getting enough rest.
  • Hyperactivity and impulsive behavior: Sleep-deprived children can be hyperactive,, and you may notice the child having problems that result from doing things impulsively.
  • Lack of motivation: When a child is lethargic or seems unmotivated, it can be caused by not getting enough sleep.
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