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11 dangerous effects of sleep deprivation on your body

Researched by Sarfraz
Updated on 1/1/2022

Sleep deprivation definition

Sleep deprivation means less sleep as compared to what you need. If you are getting unusually little sleep that is affecting your bodily functions then you may have a sleep deprivation issue.

This issue can go for a short or long duration, which can affect your health, fitness, body functions, and performance. Your working or learning capabilities may decrease because of this issue.

In this modern world, many people are sleeping less because of their work or health issues that is why lack of sleep or sleep-deprived issue is rising and causing many health problems like diseases or physical and mental performance decline. (1)


The sleep-deprived issues can go for short or long duration. Based on how much time it can affect you, it is divided into two types:

Acute sleep deprivation

In acute sleep deprivation, you may get problems in falling or getting proper sleep for one or two days. It rarely affects health more severely but repetitive acute episodes can cause serious illnesses like cardiovascular diseases. (2)

Chronic sleep deprivation

Chronic sleep-deprived situations may cause you to take less sleep for many days or weeks.

This sleep problem can cause serious diseases and health problems because it can stop you to sleep for an adequate time that helps your body-related functions to perform well. Most like they associate deprivation related health risks with it. (3)

There are many similarities between chronic sleep deprivation and Insomnia. In these sleep problems, the patient can face less sleep or sleepless situation for a long time.

The major difference between these is Insomnia can give you serious problems in falling asleep while in chronic sleep-deprived conditions you may get some time for sleep.

Sleep deprivation stages

1. Stage 1 = sleep-deprived condition for 24 hours. It can give you mild health problems like working, learning, reading, and other work-related performance loss.
2. Stage 2 = sleep-deprived condition for 36 hours can cause serious health issues like cardiovascular problems
3. Stage 3 = Sleep-deprived condition for 48 hours. It can cause serious bad health incidents.
4. Stage 4 = Sleep deprivation for straight 72 hours can put your health in a critical situation. If not treated medically, your body or brain health may get serious impact and mortality-related incidents can be increased.


• Weight gain
• Less unusual night sleep time
• Decline in daily work performance
• Mental issues like depression or related
• Health issues like an increase in BP
• Fitness loss
• Muscles loss


Here are some sleep-deprivation tests conducted to check it or its severity:
• Self-reporting method—In this method Health Expert judge the disease in patients according to the history and information a patient tell about a sleep problem
• Pupillography—This test monitors the size of the patient eye's pupil
• EEG test—This test diagnosed the patient after finding them not sleeping well after telling them or giving them an adequate environment to sleep
• Wakefulness capability Test—In this test, experts can ask a person to stay awake. Unusually large time without sleep can become the reason for sleep deprivation diagnose (4)

Effect of sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation or lack of sleep can generate many health risks. Health issues like cardiovascular diseases, mental issues, kidney issues, and a good deal of other health-related problems can get rise because of this issue. Here are some effects of sleep deprivation that are backed by many scientific studies and researches:

Heart attack

A heart attack is a dangerous heart-related incident. It usually happened due to blood vessel blockage. High-fat tissues can cause it. You may know that not sleeping well increases obesity chances.

Heart diseases are causing most deaths then any other disease and heart attacks are one of the big factors which put many peoples annually in the net of death. (5)

Sleep deprivation can cause a sudden heart attack or dangerous heart-related incidents. Studies say that less sleep cycle can increase the fatal cardiac incident chances 2 to 3 times more and is the top psychological issue that increases the heart attack chances several times. (6)

A scientific study that examined 30,934 people found that deficiency of sleep was strongly linked with heart attack risks and other contributors that cause cardiovascular incidents like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and many other factors. Peoples who sleep less were more vulnerable to heart diseases. (7)


Asthma is a breathing-related issue in which airways that transfer the air into your lungs become narrow. The constriction and inflammation can make it hard for you to breathe properly and normally.

A study on two asthma patients found a strong link between sleep deprivation as an asthma trigger factor. Studies found that only one sleepless night can cause significant asthmatic symptoms in the patients. They observed a huge decline in airflow functions in asthma patients. (8)

Sleep deficiency is strongly linked with asthma patients studies say, especially patients who have asthma may get huge health loss due to sleep deprivation. Most asthma patients have a history of sleep problems that have caused a disturbance in the health quality of these peoples. (9)


A stroke occurs because of loss of your body's capability to transfer oxygen to the brain or because of bleeding inside of your brain. Less or no oxygen value in your brain can cause its functions to stop and your brain cell may die due to it.
Stroke is a major cause of premature deaths of peoples.

Some researchers say sleeping less or for an extra long time can cause stroke in people. There are also some studies that say sleepless time decreases the stroke incident but those studies are in limited quantity as compared to those which say sleep deprivation generates high stroke risks. (10)

Depression and anxiety

Depression is a state of not taking an interest in daily life, sadness, and your least behavior towards your favorite activities, whereas during anxiety you may feel sad or uneasy because of some reason or for no reason.

A study observed 4,175 young people whose ages were between 11 to 17 years. Scientists found that people who sleep less were at more high risks of getting depressed. They set the sleep deprivation limit to 6 hours per night. Most peoples sleep for that hours and it is an alarming situation for most of them. (11)

It is believed that most people who work at night get more risks of getting depressed. As they find less time to sleep because there is no comparison between nighttime sleep and daytime sleep. You can sleep for 7 hours at night but you may find it difficult to sleep for that time during the day.

Because of a lot of noise or unnatural or unfriendly time to sleep, you may find it difficult to take a better nap in the daytime. (12)

Experts have examined the huge number of Trusted Medical data and they have found a significant link between sleep deprivation with high tendency anxiety levels. They conclude sleep deprivation not only helps to generate anxiety but also increases its symptoms. However, they have not mentioned the duration of time limit for this in their review. (13)

Kidney diseases

Kidney diseases are kidney-related health issues that affect those organs which handle your urine production and excretion of waste material through your urine.

Studies and researches have found a serious link if sleep deprivation with kidney diseases. They say less sleep timing not only increases disease risks but also increases the mortality of patients that are suffering from severe kidney or end-stage renal diseases. (14)

Researchers say with adequate or healthy sleep time you can not only improve your health but you may decrease the risks of chronic kidney diseases significantly. (15)

Cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases are no 1 in causing illness-related fatalities around the world. Usually, these health issues arise because of physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure, but researchers found that sleep deprivation can also lead to cause cardiovascular disease in people.

Sleep deprivation and cardiovascular diseases have some associations that can be bad for your overall health. Lack of sleep or not taking enough sleep is associated with high risks of heart attack, stroke, and many other cardiovascular incidents. Low sleep levels can make your cardiovascular health worse than most diseases that cause the same effects. (16)

Other studies say sleep-deprived situation not only causes cardiovascular diseases but also makes person's health worse by causing diabetes and hypertension. Both of them make the intensity of CVD worse. (17)

Mental problems

Mental problems or diseases are those which affect your way of thinking, behavior, or mood. Some come mental diseases are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Sleep is a very crucial natural process that improves your overall body functions, including the brain.

Good sleep increases the capabilities of your brain and also helps it to shape well. Studies say not taking well sleep not only affects cardiovascular health but it can affect your brain or mental health badly. Sleep is important for the development of your brain.

Not taking the right amount of sleep can elevate your cognitive functions, your learning, reading, and thinking capability and also can bring some mental issues. (18)

Some more scientific evidence shows that sleep deprivation or lack of sleep can cause or boost the symptoms or severity of major mental issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia, etc.

According to studies hallucinations because of some mental illnesses can become worse because of less sleep, memory-related problems also increase in some mental patients like in schizophrenia patients memory disturbance was observed due to lack of sleep. (19)


Obesity means your body weight more than normal. In this condition, your body becomes so bulky that heavy fat tissues can make your appearance or health bad and worse.

A person with a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. An overweight person means a BMI equal to 25 to 29.9. While normal body weight is considered as 18 to 24.9 .

The population of overweight people is increasing day by day. In developing countries, these issues are rising with speed. It is believed that people are becoming obese because of a bad lifestyle and unhealthy diet.

Studies on a group of people conclude that people who sleep less than 7 hours usually gain more weight as compared to those who take some extra for sleep.

According to researchers, sleep deprivation increases the ghrelin and sodium quantity in the body and produces inflammation in your body. Elevated levels of leptin and insulin are also associated with taking less sleep. (20)

Taking less sleep, especially at the night, can alter your body's glucose functions and can also increase your appetite. Your body may also start burning fewer calories due to sleep deprivation studies says.

Elevated glucose, appetite feelings, and calories burning issues can cause you to get heavyweight along with too much fat on the body. (23)


Diabetes is a group of diseases that affect your body's capability about how it uses or deals with glucose levels. These diseases, especially type 2 diabetes, are causing a lot of trouble in the general population.

These diseases contribute to other illnesses to make them worse or fatal like cardiovascular diseases can become worse because of worse diabetes level.

A study on 7,026 women, who were observed for a long period, found that sleep deprivation was highly associated with obesity in those who sleep less during the study time. Researchers say because of less energy expenditure, obesity or bad BMI level can cause or make peoples diabetic. (24)

High blood pressure

High blood pressure means your body's blood pressure is high than it should be. Normal blood pressure is considered as less than 120/80 mm Hg.

More reading than these numbers shows the sign or alarm of high blood pressure or hypertension. This disease is a silent killer which shows fewer early symptoms but contribute a lot in damaging your health like it put a lot of damage on your cardiovascular health and kidneys functions.

A 24-hour study on normal blood pressure persons found a strong link between how lack of sleep or sleep deprivation raises your blood pressure. In a study, researchers found that sleep deprivation for only 24 hours was enough to make high blood pressure and heart rate high than normal. They say that high activity of sympathetic nervous while sleepless time may cause these issues. (25)


Cancer is the worst disease. Only its word is enough to terrify the person. Because of its severity, it is considered one of the most dangerous diseases on the planet. It basically starts with your body's cells.

During cancer, your body's cells grow at an uncontrollable fast speed. These cells spread from the original place to all over the body.

Studies have found a reasonable correlation between cancer and sleep deprivation. According to trusted medical studies, lack of sleep increases breast cancer in women.

Taking less or no sleep can cause a change in your immune system, your metabolism can also lose its function which can cause obesity and many other diseases like cancer as well. (26) (27)


Here are some major causes of sleep deprivation:

Mental issues

Sleep deprivation issues can raise because of some mental diseases like schizophrenia patients report a lot of sleeping problems. (28)

Heavy use of mobile phone

Too much use of the internet can also lead to sleep problems. High use of mobiles, LCDs, and LEDs of other daily use appliances can put negative effects on your sleep. (29)


Stress is the major contributor to cause many health problems. High stress can cause health issues that can lead to sleep deprivation studies says.


Insomnia is a big reason for many health problems. A patient with insomnia usually sleeps for very much fewer hours or times.

Noisy living area

Too much noise around you can make it hard for you to take proper sleep.

Sleep apnea

During sleep apnea, you may face some disturbance in breathing. Studies say there are links between sleep apnea with sleeping issues.
How to fix sleep deprivation naturally
• Do exercises daily
• Control your body weight or lose excess of it
• Stop smoking or drinking
• Use a good sleep-friendly bed for your natural requirement like sleep
• Walk instead of riding motor for a small distance
• Reduce stress
• Go to a doctor if you have some other big disease

Sleep deprivation treatment info Medically

1. Therapies
2. Surgeries

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