21 Signs You Need More Sleep
We’re a sleep-deprived society. The average person gets less than the recommended seven hours’ worth of sleep per night1. Compare that to four decades ago, when nine hours a night was the norm2 and it’s clear that we’re not getting enough sleep.
Yet with every single one of us requiring our own specific amount of nightly slumber, it’s not always obvious if we’re getting the right amount of sleep per night or not. Not unless we’re aware of the signs of sleep deprivation.
Here then, we look at how to know if you’re sleep deprived through 21 signs that you need more sleep. Read on to learn more and discover how to improve your habits and enjoy good nights rest.
1, You’re sleeping in later or are now dependent on your alarm
We’ll start with one of the more obvious signs of lack of sleep. If you find yourself much more tired in the mornings, waking later, or needing an alarm to wake you when you never used one before, then, this is a big signifier of poor sleep.
2, You’re having trouble losing weight or controlling your eating
Among the symptoms of not getting enough sleep is a disruption of the hormones Ghrelin and leptin. These control our appetite, and when we are sleep deprived, can make us feel hungry3. Controlling your food urges and adhering to your regular healthy diet becomes extremely challenging when you combine it with the physical and mental weariness of poor sleep.
3, Your energy levels have dropped
Another fairly straightforward sign you need more sleep is a general feeling of lethargy. It
could be a noticeable drop-off in your exercise output or just an overall feeling of not wanting to do things you normally would.
4, Your libido has reduced
Interruptions to your normal sleeping patterns can affect hormones such as testosterone4. So if your sex drive has been negatively impacted, it could well be a symptom of not getting enough sleep.
5, Your body has general aches and pains
During sleep, growth hormones are produced and tissue is repaired5. People who don’t get enough sleep often feel achy or a lingering sense of unspecified muscular pain.
6, You’re now much more forgetful
Lack of sleep impairs short-term memory6, which explains why it’s difficult to recall
things if you’re not well rested. Short-term memory loss is a sign of sleep deprivation and you should look to catch up on lost hours before seeking medical attention.
7, You’ve begun drowsy-driving
For obvious reasons, this is a particularly concerning sign that you need more sleep. If you believe that your tiredness is affecting your alert levels behind the wheel, you really must address the issue. Your first serious consideration must be to stop driving or, at the very least,
cut down on medium to long-range drives.
8, You’ve started relying on caffeine
Most of us enjoy a morning tea or coffee and the associated boost it gives us. There’s nothing wrong with it. But if you find yourself needing caffeinated beverages throughout the day just to reach ‘a normal level’ of alertness, that’s a sign of not enough sleep and may even affect your ability to sleep at night—creating a vicious circle.
9, Concentration and focus becomes difficult
A lack of sleep will manifest itself quite quickly in your ability to focus on tasks and pay
attention. Notice a tailing off in your concentration? This is a sign you need more sleep and you should ensure you get in!
10, You’re more stressed, anxious or emotional than usual
Sleeplessness and mental health are inextricably linked. Without a diagnosis and understanding of what’s happening, you may not know which is causing which. If you’ve seen an uptick in anxiety, stress or low mood, consult a professional. Also, mention the signs of sleep deprivation that you’ve been experiencing.
11, You’re dehydrated
According to a study7, people who frequently slept six hours or less per night had a 16% to 59% higher likelihood of being dehydrated than people who routinely clocked in with
eight hours sleep or more. If you feel particularly thirsty in the morning it may be a sign that you need more sleep.
12, Your skin suffers
Not getting enough sleep can manifest itself physically in your appearance too. Participants in a Stockholm University study who were sleep deprived had red, swollen eyes, dark under eye bags and even outbreaks of spots8.
13, Your vision is slightly impaired
When you’re not getting enough sleep you have less control over the muscles in your eyes. When you don’t
get enough sleep, your ciliary muscle, which helps your eyes concentrate, becomes fatigued9.
Close reading can become particularly problematic. Not only that, but the extraocular muscles that govern eye movement are also impacted10. Meaning your eyes don’t move
as quickly or precisely as they normally would.
14, You become impulsive or reckless
One of the signs of sleep deprivation is that decision making can be impaired. So watch out for a detrimental change to your ability to think through your actions.
15, You have difficulty making decisions
Not getting enough sleep can affect how quickly information is processed and how quickly certain tasks, like problem solving, can be performed. So while you may become impulsive, the
the opposite is also possible – you may become more indecisive.
16, You are making more mistakes than usual
Have you noticed your work suffering through frequent and unnecessary mistakes? This is a common side effect from not sleeping enough. And also, potentially, a real problem.
17, You become clumsy
Coordination actually demands a fair bit of mental processing because the brain has to use sensory data to pinpoint your exact location and transmit several signals throughout the body to assist in stabilising, moving, and reacting. When you’re not getting enough sleep, your brain struggles to meet these demands.
18, You are cranky or irritable
If you’ve noticed that you’ve become poor company of late, sniping and snapping at people for the most minor of transgressions, it could be a sign you need more sleep.
19, You are frequently getting ill
A compromised immune system is another symptom of persistent insufficient sleep.
Your body has a tougher time fending off diseases and infections when your immune
system is compromised. You are more likely to contract a cold when your immune
system isn’t functioning at its best.
20, You take a long time falling asleep
You may know the concept of ‘being overtired’ in babies. It’s true for many adults too. It’s possible that a lack of sleep can interrupt future sleep. If it takes you 30 minutes or more to fall into slumber, it may be a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep.
21, You take an unusually short time falling asleep
Ideally, it should take you between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep; if it takes you less time, it could be a sign of chronic sleep deprivation and weariness.
It’s more than possible that, in isolation, one or two of these symptoms are nothing much to worry about and not indicative of any major issue.But if you can tick off a good few from this list, then it’s likely you may not be getting enough sleep.Don’t panic, there are lots of options available to you to help solve this issue. Including many of which we’ve explored right here in our blogs on the subject of sleep.
1, Average Briton gets six hours and 19 minutes of sleep a night – The Independent
2, Are We Really Getting Less Sleep than We Did in 1975? – Psychology Today
3, Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body
Mass Index – PLOS Medicine, Shahrad Taheri, et al
4, Low Testosterone and Sleep – Everyday Health
5, What Happens When You Sleep? – Sleep Foundation
6, Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss – WebMD
7, Shorter sleep can lead to dehydration – ScienceDaily
8, Negative effects of restricted sleep on facial appearance and social appeal – Royal Society
Open Science, Tina Sundelin, et al
9, 12 Signs of Sleep Deprivation You Need to Know – Health
10, Sleep deprivation and extraocular muscles: A cross sectional study – Pakistan Journal of
Physiology, Naveen Siddique Sheikh, et al