5 Ways Chronic Sleep Deprivation Ruins Your Life

Posted by Tyler Britton on Oct 30, 2021 3:14:00 PM


Sleep Is Integral to Living a Good Life

Living with chronic sleep deprivation can make everyday feel like a struggle. You’ve felt exhausted before – you may feel exhausted right now – and you know how hard it is to function well when you are feeling so tired. Feeling periodic exhaustion gives an insight into what chronic sleep deprivation can be like.

It may be no exaggeration to say that chronic sleep deprivation "ruins your life” but many will attest to the fact that feeling exhausted all the time does kill your ability to function. There are conditions that cause chronic sleep deprivation, to name a few:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Insomnia
  • Parasomnias
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Circadian rhythm disorders

Chronic sleep deprivation is defined in most studies at getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night on a continual basis. Let’s look at the critical ways chronic sleep deprivation can make your life feel like a perpetual struggle.

1 – Can Ruin Physical Prowess

A great example of how sleep can affect physical and athletic performance is found in the following study of The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players [link to article].

In the study, researcher compared basketball performance when players received optimal sleep vs less than optimal amount of sleep. Go to the study to see specific numbers, but in nearly all categories basketball players averaged a 10% improvement in performance. This study simply shows what getting adequate sleep can do for athletic performance. Sleep deprivation affects physical activities in terms of:

  • Endurance
  • Energy
  • Focus
  • Reaction time
  • Recovery periods

2 – Can Ruin Your Ability to Think

Mental performance is usually the first thing people think of when they think of how lack of sleep can hurt you. On performance tests, those who went 17-19 hours without sleep received the following outcomes:

  • Equivalent or worse than that of a .05% alcohol
  • Showed 50% slower response speeds on tests
  • Severely inhibits memory

At more than 19 hours without sleep, performance levels quickly degrade to .1% alcohol and higher, which is about the same as being drunk. Chronic sleep deprivation can quickly lead to such levels of cognitive performance [Source: Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments…].

What this tells us, in short, is that the less sleep you have the more your cognitive ability resembles an increasing level of intoxication.

3 - Can Ruin Emotional Regulation

Lack of sleep also can considerably affect your mental/emotional health. For example, 90% of people with depression report problems sleeping [source]. In another example, people who suffer from insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea report significantly higher rates of depression [source].

Finally, motivation and social interactions are negatively impacted by lack of sleep – both of which are integral to your sense of satisfaction and well being. For example, just ask yourself when you are chronically exhausted, do you skip out on opportunities to socialize with friends, go to events or parties, go workout, etc.?

4 - Can Ruin Your Productivity

Sleep will make a big difference in your productivity. For example, sleep deprivation can do the following:

  • Slower recovery from distractions and interruptions
  • Contribute to burnout (sleep deprivation is one of the best predictors of burnout)
  • You will make worse decisions (see “mental performance and sleep” about sleep deprivation similarity to intoxication)
  • Slower response times and lower accuracy rates on simple tasks

In most jobs, be they white or blue collar sleep can make a big difference in your ability to perform well, make good decisions, and make safe decisions.

5 - Can Ruin your Health

dangers_of_sleep_deprivationChronic sleep deprivation is not only poor for physical performance, it’s bad for your health. Some reasons include:

  • Strong link of sleep deprivation to weight gain
  • Sleep deprivation linked to heart disease and stroke [source]
  • Sleep deprivation affects glucose metabolism and Type 2 diabetes risk [source]
  • Link to increased inflammation [source] – those of you with IBS or other bowel-disorders may have already noticed a relationship between your gut and your sleep
  • Sleep improves your immune function - in one study, people who received less than 7 hours of sleep were three times more likely to develop a cold than those with 8 hours or more of sleep.

In other words, chronic sleep deprivation makes you more prone to weight gain, disease, and sickness.


If you are struggling with chronic sleep deprivation - we can help. Please reach out to get to get started on the road to normal sleep and a better quality of life.

Take a Free Online Sleep Test

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all