The 4 Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation – How to Tell if you’re Sleep Deprived

This article lists the 4 main symptoms of sleep deprivation. Have a look over these for sleep deprivation symptoms and see if they’re familiar. They’ll help you discover whether you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, and if so, to what extent.

1. Difficulty waking up in the morning

Waking up the morning feels almost impossible. As if you’re trying to wake up out of a deep sleep. You long for just a few more minutes in bed. Might be combined with:

  • Oversleeping – Prone to sleeping in and missing appointments. Needing multiple alarms to wake you up. Very tempted to just keep pressing snooze.

  • Feeling very sleepy in the morning – Forcing your body out of bed in the morning requires huge amounts of willpower. The morning is your least favorite time of the day for social activities.

  • Sleeping in late on the weekends – You sleep in way past your regular wake up time on the weekends in an attempt to make up for lost sleep.

2. Feeling sleepy during the day

Most of us feel a little sleepy as a busy workday draws to a close, but people with sleep deprivation feel constantly exhausted almost every day. Signs of excessive tiredness include:

  • Resorting to caffeine to keep you awake – Needing strong coffee or energy drinks just to get through the day. Feel very sleepy if you ever try to cut back.

  • Showing physical signs of sleepiness – Including excessive yawning, dropping of the head, slow blinking or a blank stare.

  • Scoring below 4 on the Stanford Sleepiness Scale – An internationally recognized scale to assess your level of alertness.

3. Experiencing the effects of sleep deprivation

The most notable effect of sleep deprivation is the impact on your mood. Feeling irritable, upset or depressed about things that didn’t used to bother you. Effects of sleep deprivation also include:

  • Unable to concentrate or remember things – Missing appointments, forgetting about work assignments or conversations with people.

  • Making lots of mistakes – Everything seems much harder and you become clumsy with even small routine tasks. Feel rushed and unable to cope.

  • Losing interest in things you found enjoyable – No longer seem to have energy for hobbies you once enjoyed. Things you used to find interesting no longer seem so.

4. Actually falling asleep

Sleep Deprivation SymptomsFalling asleep during the day is one of the more obvious symptoms of sleep deprivation. You’re most likely to fall asleep when you’re doing something boring or monotonous that allows you to drift off. In more severe cases you might fall asleep when doing something that requires your full attention, even just for a few seconds. This is called a microsleep. Cases when you might fall asleep during the day also include:

  • Falling asleep in the evening before bed – Most commonly when sitting on the sofa watching TV. The earlier in the evening you fall asleep, the greater the indication of sleep deprivation.

  • Falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow – Especially if you have dreams straight away, experience hallucinations or even sleep paralysis.

  • Needing to take lots of naps during the day – Such as during a lunch break. Desperately needing these naps to prevent yourself from falling asleep during the day.

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Everyone has the odd day where they’re feeling a little sleepier than usual. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what level of sleepiness is normal and what could be a sign of sleep deprivation. To find out, take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. It’s a test used by doctors around the world to test for sleep deprivation symptoms. It will tell you if you’re sleep deprived and if so how much.