Sleep plays a major role in your physical and mental health. During sleep, your body repairs itself and performs some important biological functions. In simple words, sleep is like a recharge to your whole body that helps you to get refreshed after you wake up. Various factors, including lifestyle, diseases, and food can affect sleep. Here let’s get into detail about one of the major sleep disorders “Sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation stages”

What Is Sleep Deprivation? 

Do you know the exact meaning of sleep deprivation? Sleep deprivation occurs if you get less sleep, no sleep, or reduced quality of sleep. Adults should get a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. If you don’t get a minimum amount of sleep, you might feel grumpy which negatively impacts your energy levels, and lead to several health issues. 

Sleep Deprivation Stages

Sleep deprivation is classified into 5 stages of not sleeping. It is mainly determined by how many hours of sleep you’ve missed. Here’s what happens if you miss sleep-

Stage 1: After 24 Hours 

Staying awake for 24 hours won’t cause any major health problems, but you may feel tired, and it might affect your ability to perform everyday tasks. Many start to experience the effects of sleep deprivation after 24 hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 24 hours without sleep is equal to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.10%, which is higher than the limit to drive. 

24 hours of sleep deprivation symptoms

  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Concentration and memory difficulties
  • Reduced coordination
  • Food cravings 
  • Anger 
  • Impaired judgment
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Raised levels of stress hormones
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Puffy eyes/ dark under-eye
  • A higher risk of accidents
  • Muscle tension

Stage 2: After 36 Hours 

The deprivation symptoms become more intense after 36 hours of lack of sleep. You will experience microsleeps (falling unexpectedly for a period of 30 seconds to 1 minute) or brief periods of sleep, and an overwhelming urge to sleep. 

36 hours of sleep deprivation symptoms 

  • Lowered reaction time
  • Impaired memory 
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Reduced memory/difficulty in processing 
  • Cravings for junk food
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Increased appetite 
  • Behavior changes
  • Lowered immunity

Stage 3: After 48 Hours 

After 48 hours of sleep deprivation is known as extreme sleep deprivation. In stage 3, you find it harder to stay awake. During this stage, many will experience an overwhelming and irresistible urge to sleep. You will be experiencing hallucinations, extreme mood swings, anxiety, stress, and severe exhaustion. 

48 hours of sleep deprivation symptoms 

  • Anxiety 
  • Extreme Fatigue 
  • Increased irritability 
  • Depersonalization 

Stage 4: Awake for 72 Hours 

After 72 hours or days without sleep will intensify your urge to sleep. You may experience many microsleeps and severe hallucinations. In a study, two astronauts experienced increased heart rates, impaired cognitive performance, and negative emotions after staying awake for 27 hours of sleep. 

  • Illusions and delusions
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Disordered thinking 
  • Paranoia
  • Depressed 
  • Difficulty in communication

Stage 5: 96 Hours Without Sleep

96 hours or 4 days of sleeplessness can make your urge for sleep unbearable. During this stage, you can’t even function at your normal level. You can’t even do basic things like spell, read, and talk. There is a higher chance of having accidents while performing even the simplest tasks. 

Usually, sleep deprivation goes away once you get enough sleep. But, if you are suffering from severe sleep deprivation, consult a doctor immediately. 

Sleep Deprivation Symptoms

  1. Fatigue and Daytime Sleepiness: One of the primary indicators of sleep deprivation is feeling persistently tired and sleepy during the day, regardless of the amount of rest obtained.
  2. Difficulty Concentrating: Sleep deprivation can impair cognitive functions, making it challenging to focus, pay attention, and retain information. This can affect productivity and performance in various areas of life.
  3. Mood Changes: Individuals experiencing sleep deprivation often exhibit mood swings, irritability, increased stress levels, and a higher susceptibility to emotional reactions.
  4. Impaired Memory: Lack of sleep can interfere with the consolidation and retrieval of memories, resulting in difficulty remembering and recalling information accurately.
  5. Reduced Immune Function: Sleep deprivation weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses such as colds, flu, and infections.

Effective Treatment  for Sleep Deprivation:

  1. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Set regular bedtimes and wake-up times to regulate your body’s internal clock. Aim for seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
  2. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment: Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Use comfortable bedding and pillows to promote relaxation and minimize disturbances.
  3. Practice Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation into your bedtime routine to calm the mind and prepare for sleep.
  4. Limit Stimulants: Avoid consuming caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to poorer sleep quality.
  5. Avoid Electronic Devices Before Bed: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with your sleep. Establish a screen-free period before bed to allow your brain to wind down naturally.
  6. Seek Professional Help: If sleep deprivation persists despite implementing self-help strategies, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional. They can assess your sleep patterns, identify any underlying sleep disorders, and recommend appropriate treatments.

Conclusion: Recognizing the symptoms of sleep deprivation and taking proactive steps to address them is crucial for overall well-being. By prioritizing healthy sleep habits and seeking effective treatments, you can improve sleep quality, boost energy levels, enhance cognitive function, and promote a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.