Sleep Deprivation Blog

Recognising Sleep Deprivation

1st November 2018

Slumber Centre

The first step to a better night’s sleep is recognising that it is suffering in the first place, so off the back of The Harrison Spinks Sleep Survey, we’re dedicating November to tackling sleep deprivation. It’s something that can wreak havoc with our daily lives and lead us to feeling unable to work effectively and efficiently… We can all feel tired from time to time, but when does your lack of sleep lead to more than just feeling a little worn-out?

What is ‘sleep deprivation’?

Rather than being a diagnosed sleep condition, sleep deprivation is a human state that we feel when we don’t get enough sleep to feel rested and attentive. Quite literally, we feel deprived of sleep. It boils down to not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

There are levels of sleep deprivation and it affects everyone in a different way. We all suffer from the odd sleepless night now and again so by no means should you begin to stress about being sleep deprived simply because you’re not getting 7-8 hours every single time you hit the hay.

Sleep deprivation can be separated from tiredness by the severity of the lasting mental and physical effects. When we don’t get enough sleep for days or maybe even weeks in a row, the symptoms of being tired intensify and we start to feel deprived and in desperate need of sleep.

Sleep Hours
Source: The Harrison Spinks Sleep Survey

How Do I Know When I’m Sleep Deprived?

As a general rule, if you wake up tired and spend the day longing for a chance to have a nap, it's likely that you're not getting enough sleep.

We’ve established that feeling tired on an occasional basis can be a part of our daily working lives. If we’ve had a long day at work or a later night than usual, the chances are we’ll feel a little wearier the next day. We may struggle to get out of bed and find ourselves gravitating towards the coffee machine, but all in all, it’s not something worth worrying about. We can still mostly go about our business even though we feel a little sleepy.

However, these mornings of feeling drained and exhausted become more serious when we experience them on a more regular basis. If you start to experience the following, it’s more than likely that you’re suffering from more serious sleep deprivation:

  • Seriously tired as though you are unable to think straight or concentrate
  • Feeling forgetful
  • Excessive, constant yawning
  • Red, sore eyes with eye bags
  • Regular headaches
  • Taking less than five minute to fall asleep at night

One of the more important signs of sleep deprivation to look out for is how quickly you fall asleep at night. The recent Harrison Spinks Sleep Survey found that 12% of respondents fell asleep almost immediately after getting into bed. Whilst this may sound ideal for those of us that struggle to get to sleep, it should take the average human 7-10 minutes to fall asleep at night and any less than this may actually be a sign that you are sleep deprived.

Quality Not Quantity

Getting enough sleep is obviously important to help avoid these symptoms of sleep deprivation and whilst it’s recommended the average adult gets 7-8 hours of sleep each night, it’s no good if that sleep is of poor quality and is regularly disturbed.

Our survey found that 93% of people wake up unintentionally at least once during the night and 50% had 4+ nights of disturbed sleep a week. Even those who sleep for a total of 8 hours a night may still feel some symptoms of sleep deprivation if their sleep is regularly disturbed.

There can be many reasons as to why people experience poor sleep. Whether it is stress or feeling too uncomfortable, it’s important to acknowledge what the reason may be to try and limit disturbance as much as possible. Later this month, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of these reasons and how you can put an end to them so that you can get the best night’s sleep possible.