Am I Sleep Deprived? 7 Ways To Tell If You're More Than Just Tired


It's one thing to yawn at your desk in the middle of the afternoon, and something else entirely to experience actual symptoms of sleep deprivation. These are often more intense. And yet, it's easy to confuse them with a bout of drowsiness, or a simple desire to go to bed.

"Sleep deprivation results in sleepiness, but you don’t have to be sleep deprived to be sleepy," Dr. Nate Watson, a sleep scientist from SleepScore Labs, tells Bustle. "Sleepiness is normal during our mid-afternoon dip in circadian alertness (also the time when the coffee line is the longest) or in the evening after dark." And it can also come about due to things like boredom, caffeine withdrawal, or as a side effect of certain medications.

If you have sleep deprivation, though, there will likely be a different set of symptoms, all stemming from a lack of sleep. You'll still feel tired and yawn at your desk. But you might also notice experience things like a lack of coordination, micro-sleeps, and even a sense that you're "wired" or stressed.

To prevent sleep deprivation, you'll want to get seven or more hours of sleep every night, Watson says. Also, keep in mind, there is no substitute for sleep, he says. Even if you can get by on a few cups of a coffee and a quick nap, your body needs those seven hours in order to stay well.

So how do you know if you're more than just tired? Or simply experiencing a little fatigue? Here are the ways to tell the difference between sleepiness and sleep deprivation, according to experts.