10 Nov 2016

How does sleep deprivation affect you?

The amount of sleep that a person requires in order to be fully rested changes depending on any number of factors from age to occupation. When it comes to figuring out what amount of sleep is right for you, it can be hard to know what to believe. Then again, if you’re only able to sleep for 7 hours a night due to work, family or other commitments, but it still doesn’t feel like enough, is a little sleep debt ok?

There are very real consequences to missing out on valuable sleep. Your mental and physical state can be affected due to sleep deprivation. In a world where technology rules most lives, the question “is a little sleep debt ok?” can’t be answered without looking at what you’re really giving up.

Being sleep deprived is not simply a case of some grogginess, grumpiness or migraines. Below you can see exactly what happens to your physical and mental health when you suffer from sleep deprivation.

Your physical health:

Your physical health can be damaged after few years of sleep deprivation. It can affect:

Your immune system: If you are sleep deprived, your immune system won’t have the chance to recharge and it will raise your risk of developing chronic illnesses.

Your digestive systemStudies have shown that sleep plays a role in weight management. Without enough sleep your hormones are out of whack and your body craves sugar, fat and high-GI foods1.

Your respiratory system: As sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, you could be more vulnerable to respiratory problems. If you already have chronic lung disease, it could worsen this condition. 

Your cardiovascular system: Short sleep can also increase your risk of stroke1

Your mental health:

Only 30% of Australians state that they regularly make a conscious effort to have time away from electronic devices and 18% state they hardly ever, or never, get a good night’s sleep2. Lack of sleep will also have an impact during waking hours making you less alert and responsive. Here are some aspects of your mental health that could be affected by sleep deprivation:

Memory loss: This can be due to permanent cognitive issues. The less you sleep, the less memory-storing properties you have.

Emotions: Your emotions can get affected too, which could lead in the long-term to temper, mood swings, impulsion, depression, paranoia and even suicidal thoughts.

To avoid any serious consequences, it is recommended to have at least 7 hours at night3. Studies have shown time and time again that prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to many health complications and even aggravate existing ones4. If you’re ready to talk to your doctor and partner about your sleep deprived state, download our eBook “The ultimate guide to understanding your sleep issues”. This guide will help you to understand why you’re sleepless, provide you with a sleep diary, common terminology for sleep disorders and a series of questions that you need to ask your doctor when discussing your issues.


Understanding Your Sleep - ResSleep



  1. Sleep your way to health. Sleep Health Foundation. http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/more/sleep-blog/729-while-you-are-sleeping.html
  2. The Ten Tips - UMR Mental Health Report. Mental Health Australia. https://mhaustralia.org/sites/default/files/docs/umr_mental_health_australia_report_wmhd_2015.pdf
  3. Sleep Needs Across the Lifespan. Sleep Health Foundation. http://sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/Sleep%20Needs%20Across%20Lifespan.pdf
  4. Consequences of insufficient sleep http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences