Psychological Effects of Sleep Deprivation: 5 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep Inertia

If you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s important to understand the consequences. Not only can sleep deprivation make you physically look more tired, but it also can impact your behavior, actions, efficiency, and relationships. But if you know what to look out for in a sleep-deprived person, you’ll be able to help yourself — or your loved ones — make a positive change in sleep habits.

Curious to learn more? Read on to learn about the psychological effects of sleep deprivation.

1. Your Perspective May Become More Pessimistic

One of the clearest sleep deprivation effects you’ll notice is a change in mood. If you’re normally a sunny and optimistic person, you may be more negative in your outlook if you’re low on sleep. And this change in mood can be something that emerges gradually or happens very erratically.

You might feel bleak about your company’s prospects when you’re sitting in a committee meeting at the office, or you might snap at your spouse when you’re getting dinner ready. Without adequate sleep, you won’t be able to control your emotional outbursts as well as you normally would. And to make matters worse, this problem is compounded with each sleepless night.

Sleep deprivation hurts your brain’s ability to process information, and often the end result is a more negative reaction toward whatever crosses your path. Your ability to embrace positive reactions goes down while you feel a stronger pull toward the negative. Because of this, your interactions with other people can become more strained.

Poor sleep habits affect your mood, which affects your ability to manage your day, which affects your sense of self-worth. Sleep is a vital part of your daily cycle, and it can throw everything off if it’s not consistent and high-quality. Don’t let this piece of the cycle become a chronic issue.

A good way to combat sleep deprivation in your life is to set sleep goals for yourself. Sleep needs can vary by age, but most adults needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. If your mood is souring your relationships and preventing you from setting and working toward goals, it’s time to make some changes to your sleep habits.

2. You’re Finding it Harder to Focus and Remember Things

Many people are quick to say that busy schedules prevent them from getting enough sleep. The irony, however, is that a busier schedule requires more focus and attention— but sleep deprivation hinders your ability to do either of those things.

When you’re feeling tired, so is your brain and as a result, your brain sends signals at a slower speed than it would if it were well-rested. The result is an inefficient version of yourself.

If you find yourself drifting off in the middle of a conversation or rereading the same pages in a textbook over and over, that may be a result of sleep deprivation. When you’re only able to scrounge together a few hours of sleep, your brain won’t have the rest it needs to be able to focus and you’ll be unable to work as efficiently as you may need to during a busy day.

Memory problems are a common consequence of poor sleep, too. During sleep, your brain undergoes processes that allow you to retain and stabilize memories of the information learned the prior day. Without enough sleep, you won’t be giving your brain the time it needs to carry out this important function.

Sleep deprivation can be disruptive for students needing to learn and retain information for courses, as well as employees learning content for specialized processes and new initiatives. Feeling foggy and unfocused each day can snowball into poor grades and bad work evaluations, so it’s critical to find a viable insomnia treatment to tackle the problem right away.

3. Psychological Effects of Sleep Deprivation Can Include a Bigger Appetite

Did you know that sleep can affect your appetite? Changes to your eating habits and fluctuations in your weight could be connected to how many hours of sleep you’re logging. And these problems can become chronic ones unless you make changes to your sleep routine

Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that control hunger, but their functionality changes depending on your sleep habits. When you’re low on sleep, ghrelin, which activates your need for food, goes up, while leptin, which controls it, goes down. This means that you want to eat more when you’re low on sleep.

You may find yourself roaming through the kitchen at night, too, if you’re not able to sleep. And if you live in a small place where your kitchen is just steps from your bedroom, it’s easy to head there for a mindless snack. Food is a source of comfort when you’re not able to relax and go to bed, but it also can be a source of weight gain.

An increased appetite and weight gain aren’t the only consequences of insomnia, either. Without enough sleep, you may be at risk for higher blood pressure and diabetes because of overeating.

If you suspect that your sleep habits are impacting your physique, you may need to keep a food diary in order to check how your daily eating habits have shifted. Write down everything you eat, including the times of day when you consume the food. If you’re eating snacks in the wee hours of the morning because you’re awake, it’s fair to conclude that sleep deprivation is affecting your eating habits.

4. Feeling Connected Becomes Challenging

Have you seemed more distant from your loved ones lately? Or have you and your spouse been at odds over even the smallest things? You might be able to blame these points of tension on sleep deprivation.

One study suggests that sleep deprivation leads to a lack of gratitude for those around you. In other words, you may not feel as thankful for the compassion, sense of caring, and financial support that your significant other provides for you. Since gratitude is central to a loving and healthy relationship, this problem can be a major source of stress.

If only one partner is dealing with sleep problems, that doesn’t matter. Both partners will pay the price in the form of a fractured relationship. The sleep deprived partner won’t be as aware of problems, concerns, and the desires of their partner, and eventually something will need to change.

Romantic relationships aren’t the only culprit. Your family life can take a hit, too, from sleep deprivation. With minimal sleep and rest for your brain, you won’t have your usual patience to interact with your children, and your angry outbursts may seem angrier.

The number of positive feelings you experience each day won’t be as high without regular sleep—and everyone around will you will see this. Explore ways to address your sleep issues before they turn your home life into a major problem.

5. You May Worry More

Not getting enough can increase the tendency to worry, too. And if you’re already prone to ruminating, lack of sleep will only make this habit worse. The parts of your brain that control your emotional reactions become agitated when you’re not getting the sleep you need.

Worrying is especially problematic when looking toward events in the future. It can consume your thoughts. If you find yourself asking concerning questions about the future of your career plans or family life, it may be time to adjust your sleep habits.

Lack of sleep can be connected to issues like anxiety, so make addressing your sleep issues a priority. And if you or someone you know already suffers from anxiety or other mental health problems, insomnia can intensify the problem.

The good news is that you can improve your sleep habits through a variety of different approaches. Setting a regular bedtime, trying to reduce the amount of light in the hour leading to bedtime, avoiding screens, and staying away from caffeine are just a few good options. Make a plan, and commit to trying it.

Supplements can make a difference in the quality of your sleep, too. With a month supply of sleep vitamins, you can try a gummy that combines melatonin and vitamins to help you ease into a better night’s sleep.

Fix Your Sleep Habits

The psychological effects of sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your ability to be a compassionate and productive member of your family and work place. If left unresolved, bad sleep patterns could lead to fractured relationships with those you love most. Know what to watch out for, and get the help you need so you can function at your best.

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