10 Health Problems That Can Occur From Lack of Sleep

In ancient China, depriving prisoners of sleep was one of the brutal ways of torturing.

The human body needs sleep to recover and function properly, and we have been taught that 6-8 hours of sleep is necessary for all adults. However, with the increased workload and tasks, sacrificing your sleep seems inevitable.

The irony is that you can manage your time and work efficiently by sleeping effectively!

So, we will look progressively at what is the lack of sleep effects and what happens when you don’t sleep for a long time. 

What is Sleep?

A bed with pillows and sheets on it.

Sleeping and dreaming are one of the most exciting fields of study in science. Scientists have marveled at how the body goes into a temporary near-death stage and rises completely fresh and active. 

Sleeping is a state of low brain activity; altered consciousness, relatively low brain activity, and relaxed muscles. 

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

According to a recent study published by The National Sleep Foundation, how sleep you need to function properly depends on your age and lifestyle. 

Roughly, the younger and active you are, the more sleep you require. 

There are environmental and genetic factors that contribute to the sleep cycle too. But, you, as an adult need at least 7 hours of sleep every day to have a fresh, fully functioning body.

What Happens When You Don’t Sleep?

In a nutshell, the body needs sleep like it needs food and air to work. 

People with a lack of sleep symptoms show temporary inattentiveness, drowsiness, and impaired memory. Also, there can be adverse consequences on your overall health and lifestyle. 

A study conducted in 2010 shows an increased risk of early death among people who sleep too little at night. 

Other health complications that arise due to lack of sleep include:


One of the lack of sleep symptoms includes paranoia and anxiety. 

Sleep deprivation disrupts the way your body sends and receives information. People with a lack of sleep feel more anxious and tend to exaggerate situations. 

Some of the signs associated with anxiety include:

  • Lack of alertness 
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness 
  • Frequent sweating
  • Irritability

Using caffeine as an alternative may even worsen the condition.


Insomnia is a type of sleeping disorder in which an individual finds it hard to fall asleep. 

It can be related to hormonal or genetic factors. However, repeated abuse of your sleep cycle may disrupt the balance of hormones that regulate your sleep. 

People try to cope with the lack of energy and inattentiveness by caffeine, worsening the symptoms of lack of sleep. 

Caffeine stimulates cholinergic receptors in your body, which further kills your sleep at night. In addition, repeated caffeine abuse directly affects melanocyte hormones that regulate the sleep cycle.

Insomnia patients show a common lack of sleep symptoms as well as some underlying disorders. Chronic insomnia also causes cardiac and nervous problems. 

Impaired Cognitive Skills

Some lack of sleep effects is seen as a chemical imbalance in the body. For example, during sleep, the cerebral cortex regulates the intelligence and creativity centers of the brain. 

Well-rested people are far sharper than sleep-deprived ones.

Efficiency is compromised in sleep-deprived people. Tasks as simple as opening a bottle may seem hard. Therefore, it is quite possible that increasing your sleeping hours may provide you with a more efficient and faster brain. 


Hallucinations are caused by disruptions in the vision perceiving centers of the body. 

As the brain is not well-rested, people feel dizziness accompanied by hallucinations.


When a person sleeps, neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin are released, elevating your mood and making you feel happy.

People who lack sleep show a decrease in these chemical levels, resulting in an unstable mood associated with depression and suicidal thoughts.  


Two hormones, leptin, and ghrelin are released during sleep. These hormones stimulate the feeling of fullness in the body. 

As lack of sleep diminishes their production, people who lack sleep show symptoms of cravings and increased appetite. That’s why midnight cravings are very common in college students.

Apathy and tiredness due to lack of sleep can further reduce activity. Combined, these two can have adverse side effects on overall health.  


One study showed how there is an increased risk for heart attacks in insomniac patients.

During sleep, the body repairs the muscles of the heart and vessels and controls the blood sugar level. 

All of which contribute to increased risk for hypertension in sleep-deprived people.  

Immune Disorders

Lack of sleep even affects the immune system.

During sleep, your body produces cytokines and antibodies that protect against invading pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. 

A sleep-deprived person may show diminished pathogen response and be more prone to infections and diseases.

Hormonal Imbalance

Sleeping is directly associated with the production of testosterone and growth hormone in people. 

You need at least 3 hours of sleep for testosterone production. Hence, insomniacs and sleep-deprived people show low sex drive commonly.

Growth Hormone Deficiency is also seen in children who do not get adequate sleep. As a result, they show stunted growth and weakness.  

Respiratory Disorders

People who have insomnia or sleep deprivation show a breathing disorder called sleep apnea

Woman sitting in bed

An interruption in breathing during slumber is a feature of sleep apnea. It may cause further difficulties in sleeping and worsen the symptoms. 


The key is to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily. However, it’s easier said than done. You are likely to develop sleeping disorders, especially if the sleep issue has continued for a while.  

In such cases, you should consult a sleep specialist. In addition, medications such as morphine and cannabis may prove helpful in treating the underlying sleeping disorder.

CBD for Sleep

Recent studies show Cannabis or Cannabinoids (CBD) has yielded maximum results in helping people sleep and relax. 

An article published in 2014 shows further evidence about the benefits of using CBD for sleep. It shows how CBD can improve complex sleeping disorders associated with REM Sleep.

Although experimental, using CBD for sleep has shown promising results.


Preventing lack of sleep symptoms is much more convenient than treating advanced sleeping disorders.

It is essential to have a proper sleeping schedule. Your body adapts to a routine, and frequent alterations may lead to hormonal imbalance and sleeping disorders.

Also, limit caffeine use. For example, avoid drinking tea or coffee at night, as it may alter your sleeping schedule. 

Sleep is crucial for the human body. So, take care of yourself and lead a healthy life!

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