Word cloud with different adjectives that describe what happens when we're sleep deprived

Sleep deprivation. We’ve all been there. During the week it seems like we are a zombie, slowly going through the motions until the weekend where we hope to catch up on sleep. It seems like in our society today, we are constantly on the go and don’t put sleep as a priority in our lives. Or simply cannot put it as a priority. We might have insomnia, or sleep apnea, or just plain lack of time to get the necessary amount of sleep in.

Sleep is a biological necessity. We need sleep to repair tissues, strengthen muscles, and synthesize hormones. There are a vast array of studies that differ in exactly how much sleep we need to function at our best. But most can agree on adults needing 7-9 hours of good, quality, uninterrupted sleep. So what happens when we sleep less than that, on a recurring basis?

At first the signs of sleep deprivation might not seem so extreme. We may experience fatigue, moodiness, and loss of ability to concentrate.  As if that isn’t bad enough, the more sleep we lose the worse our symptoms become. Our body temperatures decrease, and we have an increase in our appetite often causing us to choose foods that aren’t the healthiest. We might experience poor judgement, and our vision or language might start to be impaired. In the worst signs of sleep deprivation, we can experience hallucinations, severe lethargy, and be at risk for many health conditions like heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Specifically psychologically speaking, sleep can wreak havoc on our emotions. We can experience cognitive lapses, and our ability to process information is significantly slowed. We feel cloudy, and angry, and are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.

If you are hoping to catch up on sleep during the weekends, studies show that it isn’t enough to combat the loss of sleep during the week. In short, you cannot just “make up” sleep that you’ve already lost. The best way we can function as humans, is to get consistent sleep every single night. We will talk about the best ways to ensure we are getting enough sleep on a later blog post, but for now, what kinds of things do you experience with lack of sleep? Not convinced? Take a look at Sherie Bourg Carters article on Psychology Today about 10 Frightening Costs of Sleep Loss.