12 Signs Of High Functioning Sleep Deprivation That You Should Definitely See A Doctor For
Getting a good night's rest is obviously incredibly important. We all know that, logically, we need the right amount of sleep to function normally and live a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, it's also something that many people ignore. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, about one in five adults don't get enough sleep each night. It's easy to assume that you can function like a normal person even when you don't get seven to eight hours of sleep every night, and maybe sometimes you can. It's possible that you aren't even noticing the effects of your nighttime habits, even if you're feeling them. If this is the case, you might be dealing with signs of high-functioning sleep deprivation, and the signs of that can be a little sneaky.
Maybe you go to sleep late each night and wake up early each day, and you manage to get through everything on only a few hours of rest. But just because you're completing tasks and getting yourself to and from every appointment doesn't mean you're not sleep deprived. The signs of sleep deprivation are about a lot more than just feeling exhausted and drowsy throughout the day. Some of the effects of not getting enough shut-eye could easily be explained by something else, allowing you to think you really don't need to eight hours a night your doctor recommends.
It's important to know all of the signs, though, because not getting enough sleep can have some pretty serious long-term effects. Is an extra hour or two of your favorite TV show really worth bad health? Probably not. If you start sleeping a little more, you'll likely find that you can be even more efficient and hard-working throughout the day, and that could have so many different benefits. Get to know the signs of sleep deprivation that don't include feeling tired:
1. You're Hungry All The Time
Your brain gains energy as you sleep, giving you the strength you need to get through the next day. So if you're not getting enough sleep, your brain isn't getting the energy that it desperately needs. In that case, it's going to look for it elsewhere — like food. If you find that you're constantly hungry no matter what you eat or do, it could be because your brain is trying to make up for its lack of sleep. Chris Winter, MD, owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, told Healthline, that not getting enough rest can increase the production of ghrelin (a hunger hormone) in your gut, which makes you crave fatty and sugary foods. This can also result in weight gain.
2. You're Very Impulsive
If you find yourself doing things without thinking them through more often than not, take your sleep schedule into consideration. Shelby Freedman Harris, YouBeauty Sleep Expert and director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, told Huffington Post, "The prefrontal cortex is greatly affected by sleep deprivation. This area is associated with judgment, impulse control, visual association and attention. Less sleep leads to poorer judgment and acting impulsively, e.g. poor eating when sleep deprived, buying things without thinking about the consequences, irritability and mood issues with others."
3. You're Super Moody
In an unexplained bad mood? Can't stop crying over nothing, even if it's not that time of the month? Getting angry at people for no real reason? These could all be signs of sleep deprivation. Lauren Hale, associate professor of preventative medicine in the program in public health at Stonybrook University and editor-in-chief of the journal Sleep Health, told Real Simple, "If you're sleep-deprived, you're more vulnerable to crankiness, irritability, and challenges coping with stress."
4. Your Sex Drive Is Low
We all have days when we're just in the mood to get down and dirty with someone. But if you find that, more often than not, your sex drive is super low, and you aren't sure why, it could be because you're not getting enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea (a sleep disorder the disrupts breathing) has been linked to a loss of libido in women. For men, a low sex drive from lack of sleep could be related to a drop in testosterone levels.
5. You Fall Asleep The Second Your Head Hits The Pillow
You might think it's a good thing if you fall asleep the moment you close your eyes. Actually, this could be a sign of sleep deprivation. According to the FDA, falling sleep in less than five minutes can be a sign that you need more sleep — it usually takes someone between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep, if they are not sleep deprived.
6. You're Extra Clumsy
Running on only a few short hours of sleep can affect your motor skills, and not just in the ways you think are obvious. Sleep deprivation can make you very clumsy. It can leave you feeling off balance, literally — not getting enough sleep can affect your balance and coordination, leaving you prone to falling, dropping things, and getting into little accidents.
7. You're Breaking Out A Lot
One surprising sign of sleep deprivation is breaking out — as it turns out, it's called beauty sleep for a reason. Jennifer Reichel, M.D., board certified dermatologist and advisor to RealSelf, told Greatist that when we don't get enough sleep, cortisol hormones spike and can break down skin collagen, which stops skin from being smooth and acne-free.
8. You Can't Seem To Make Any Good Decisions
Do you feel like you can never make the right choice, no matter what? Maybe you need more rest at night. A lack of sleep can mess with your brain's ability to process emotions, and according to William Killgore, a Harvard Medical School sleep researcher, this can mean your prefrontal cortex "basically goes to sleep." You'll experience that lack of self-control we talked about earlier, and you won't be making decisions as clearly.
9. You Keep Fighting With Your Partner
A lack of sleep can cause your relationship to suffer, and not just because of a low sex drive. A U.C. Berkeley study from 2013 found that couples have more fights when they don't get enough sleep. U.C. Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen said that, "Even among relatively good sleepers, a poor night of sleep was associated with more conflict with their romantic partner the next day." The study found that participants who slept poorly reported feeling more negative towards each other, and that their conflict-resolution skills and ability to accurately gauge their partners' emotions also suffered.
10. You're More Anxious Than Usual
If you find that you're super anxious all the time, you might want to change the amount of sleep you get each night before doing anything else. Research from the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry found that people who sleep less than eight hours a night are more likely to have repetitive negative thoughts because they are less able to shift attention away from something upsetting.
11. You're Really Negative
Similarly, a lack of sleep can result in you feeling super negative about everything. David Dinges, a professor of psychology and the director of the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, told LiveScience, "When people get sleep-deprived, they don't show positive emotion in their faces." They also can't recognize that other people are happy, because they interpret neutral looks as negative looks. Dinges says the sleep-deprived brain isn't as capable of detecting positive emotions as a rested brain.
12. You Get Drunk Super Fast
Finding yourself wasted over only a drink or two could mean more than just a low tolerance for alcohol. Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can lower your tolerance for alcohol, making you get drunk faster.