Sleep Deprivation - Inadequate Quantity of Sleep

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Sleep deprivation is a term that refers to an inadequate quantity of sleep, characterized by signs of sleepiness during the day, reduced alertness, and decreased performance at work or school. Sleep deprivation often occurs as a result of a sleeping disorder that restricts the quantity, quality, or timing of sleep.

Image Credit: Lolostock /

Sleep deprivation can be an acute or chronic condition, depending on its cause. Most sleep disorders cause ongoing difficulty with sleep, leading to chronic sleep deprivation. Acute deprivation, on the other hand, is more likely to be associated with short-term circumstances that lead to sleep difficulties, such as a temporary restriction of sleep time due to grievous events taking place in the affected individual's life.

Normal sleep requirements

The sleep requirements for each individual are different and vary according to specific factors such as age, general health, physical activity, and mental exertion.

In general, children and adolescents need approximately 9-10 hours of sleep per day to enable healthy brain development. Most adults need slightly less than 8 hours of sleep each day for optimal function, although this requirement appears to continually decrease with age.  

What would happen if you didn’t sleep? - Claudia Aguirre


When an individual is deprived of sleep, there are several effects that may occur, as adequate sleep is essential for the human body to function healthily. These individuals often feel tired during the day, are more likely to perform poorly, and may notice significant weight changes.

Sleep is important for the maintenance and development of both the brain and cognitive function. For this reason, when people are sleep deprived, they are more likely to have difficulty making decisions and problem-solving. As sleep is also important for the processing and storage of memories, deprivation of sleep is also associated with difficulties in both learning and cognitive function.

For this reason, children with sleep deprivation are less likely to perform well at school. Additionally, sleep deprivation can have an effect on the emotional control of an individual.


There are various possible causes of sleep deprivation, the most common of which include:

  • Personal choice: People who are unaware of sleep requirements often choose to stay up at night to socialize or enjoy hobbies.
  • Environment: The bedroom can also affect sleep, such as when there are extreme temperatures or excessive light or sound. New parents are also prone to sleep deprivation due to infants crying or needing feeding.
  • Habits: Some individuals are not aware of good sleep hygiene and may consume caffeine or alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use electronic devices shortly before bed.
  • Shift work: Irregular work hours can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle, which can lead to difficulty sleeping.
  • Illness: Sickness or infection of the respiratory tract can temporarily restrict breathing during sleep.
  • Sleep disorders: Many sleep disorders can disrupt the quantity, quality, or timing of sleep.
  • Medications: Some drugs can cause insomnia and disrupt the sleep cycle.


The best way to manage sleep deprivation is to sleep and allow the body to recover naturally by providing yourself time and a suitable environment to get adequate sleep. This may include simple lifestyle alterations, such as:

  • Going to bed earlier
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and smoking before bedtime
  • Light-proofing or sound-proofing the sleep environment
  • Removing distractions such as the television, computer, or phone
  • Using relaxation techniques to aid sleep

In some cases, there is an underlying medical issue that causes sleep deprivation, which should be addressed first. Once the underlying health condition has been identified, the sleep deprivation symptoms are likely to resolve. Some people may also benefit from pharmaceutical aids to sleep at night or increase their alertness during the day.


Further Reading

Last Updated: May 22, 2021

Yolanda Smith

Written by

Yolanda Smith

Yolanda graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of South Australia and has experience working in both Australia and Italy. She is passionate about how medicine, diet and lifestyle affect our health and enjoys helping people understand this. In her spare time she loves to explore the world and learn about new cultures and languages.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Smith, Yolanda. (2021, May 22). Sleep Deprivation - Inadequate Quantity of Sleep. News-Medical. Retrieved on May 18, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Smith, Yolanda. "Sleep Deprivation - Inadequate Quantity of Sleep". News-Medical. 18 May 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Smith, Yolanda. "Sleep Deprivation - Inadequate Quantity of Sleep". News-Medical. (accessed May 18, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Smith, Yolanda. 2021. Sleep Deprivation - Inadequate Quantity of Sleep. News-Medical, viewed 18 May 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Excessive internet use plus lack of sleep, exercise linked to teen truancy and school absence