What is chronic sleep deprivation?

What is chronic sleep deprivation?

Simply put, chronic sleep deprivation refers to lack of sleep or prolonged insomnia. The severity of chronic sleep deprivation varies.

Chronic sleep deprivation may be primary or secondary, which means it may be a problem in itself (for example, caused by insomnia or anxiety) or caused by some other unrelated problem (for example, a medical condition).

Accumulated sleep debt can cause obstacles in all aspects of your life, and depending on the cause, it may be difficult to solve the problem. That being said, there are steps you can take to deal with lack of sleep and ensure that it does not cause more serious problems.


If you have insomnia or work shifts, you may painfully realize that you are not getting enough sleep. However, some people with undiagnosed sleep disorders may not immediately understand that sleep debt is the cause of their feelings.

Here are some signs that you may be experiencing chronic sleep deprivation:

  • Dark circles
  • Deviating from the lane while driving
  • nod
  • Can’t open eyes
  • irritability
  • Lack of energy for daily work
  • Roll down the window or turn on the radio to stay awake while driving
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Inattention
  • No energy after waking up
  • yawn


The many effects of long-term sleep deprivation can have adverse secondary effects on your life, such as interfering with your relationships and work, affecting your judgment and reducing your overall quality of life.

If you are already dealing with physical or mental health conditions, then you may be at a higher risk of these effects.

Physical effects

The effects of sleep deprivation on the body can be reduced from daily functions to longer-term health problems. Here are a few such effects:

  • Workplace accident
  • Headache
  • heart failure
  • hypertension
  • Increased appetite and related weight gain (due to hormone fluctuations)
  • Increased risk of fibromyalgia
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Increased risk of death
  • Increased risk of seizures
  • Increase the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Reduce fertility
  • Decreased libido
  • Muscle ache
  • Overall fatigue
  • Shaking hands

Psychological impact

Some of the most significant negative effects of sleep debt may not be obvious to outside observers, but they cause serious damage every day, including:

  • False memory
  • Fail to stay alert
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased stress hormone levels
  • Memory impairment
  • Information processing issues
  • The ability to think clearly
  • Symptoms of psychosis
  • Symptoms similar to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Triggers of mania
  • Difficulty maintaining attention


There are many potential causes of chronic sleep deprivation. Although not everyone who has experienced it has the same underlying factors, there are some common causes:

  • Life pressure (such as marriage, economics)
  • Working conditions (for example, overwork, work pressure, shift work)
  • Medical conditions (for example, chronic pain, pregnancy, gastrointestinal problems, upper respiratory tract infections)
  • Sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea, insomnia)
  • Mental health conditions (for example, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, restless legs syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Fatal familial insomnia (a neurodegenerative disease that ultimately leads to death due to the inability to experience sleep after the first stage of NREM; this condition can lead to panic, paranoia, phobia, hallucinations, dementia, weight loss, and three Died within the year)
  • School arrangements (for example, teenagers need to go to bed late according to their physiological functions, but school arrangements often conflict with this)
  • Using too much caffeine near bedtime
  • The screen is used too close to bedtime
  • Depressed or worried about being unable to fall asleep due to insomnia


If you think you are suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, it is best to seek professional help. Your doctor can determine some of the effects of sleep deprivation based on physical examination and diagnostic tests. You may also need to participate in a sleep study to assess whether you have a sleep disorder or health condition that may affect your sleep.

Some tests commonly used to diagnose chronic sleep disorders include:

  • Overnight oximetry, including wearing a probe (similar to a clothespin) on your finger or earlobe to continuously measure oxygen and heart rate during sleep
  • Polysomnography (PSG) is the gold standard for diagnosing sleep disorders, including overnight stays in sleep centers monitored by trained technicians
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) titration is usually performed on the same night as PSG and involves a technician gradually increasing the CPAP pressure delivered through a soft face mask (pressurized room air instead of oxygen). Some titration studies can be performed at home.
  • The multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), commonly called a nap study, is similar to PSG and involves monitoring your sleep time, especially REM sleep.
  • Actiography involves wearing a small watch-sized device for weeks or even months to assess long-term sleep-wake cycles or circadian rhythms.
  • Sleep diary or sleep log, in which you can record the time of falling asleep and waking up every day. This will help your doctor understand your sleep patterns and evaluate circadian rhythm disturbances or insomnia.


Often, treating chronic sleep deprivation will involve treating the underlying cause. For example, in the case of insomnia, treatment may include talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), to deal with worries or anxiety related to the inability to fall asleep.

In this way, it is important to figure out what is the root cause of chronic sleep deprivation in order to tailor the treatment to the problem.

The therapist can help you provide strategies to calm your anxious mind and make it easier to fall asleep, including:

  • Use relaxation techniques designed to help you calm down, including guided meditation, guided imagination, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Set aside a “worry time” so that you don’t have to deal with your problems at night, but instead deal with them at a fixed time every day.
  • Keep a notebook next to your bed and write down your thoughts and questions so that when you try to fall asleep, your thoughts will not keep flipping through them.

Other types of treatment for chronic sleep deprivation may include:

  • Prescription drugs, such as Ambien (zolpidem), Belsomra (suvorexant), Estazolam (ProSom), Intermezzo (zolpidem), Lunesta (eszopiclone), Restoril (temazepam), Rozerem (ramelteon), Silenor (doxepin), Sonata (zaleplon)
  • Relaxation and biofeedback therapy, using sensors placed on the skin to track muscle tension or brain rhythm
  • Stimulation control therapy to strengthen the connection between bed and bedroom and sleep
  • Sleep restriction, which limits the amount of time you allow yourself to sleep in bed
  • Aromatherapy, which involves inhaling essential oil molecules (or absorbing essential oils through the skin) to activate brain chemicals that are involved in controlling sleep


If you lack sleep for a long time, you will know that it will disrupt all aspects of your life. But this does not mean that you have to endure this situation without relief. If you haven’t, please see your doctor and talk about the symptoms you are experiencing. It is important to rule out medical reasons before exploring other options.

In the meantime, here are some tips to help you increase your chances of falling asleep, getting better sleep, and more rest:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule. Every time I go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, especially in the hours close to bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly, but do not exercise vigorously before going to bed.
  • Create a healthy sleeping environment, including sleeping and having sex only in the bedroom (that is, no computer, TV or other activities), and keeping it dark and cool to ensure comfort.
  • Spend as much time outdoors during the day as possible to make it easier to fall asleep at night.
  • Take a relaxing hot bath before bed, or find a relaxing ritual to relax at the end of the day.
  • Limit the nap time to 20 minutes or less so as not to interfere with your normal sleep patterns.

Finally, you must know that you are not the only one who suffers from chronic sleep deprivation. As our world has changed, people work on various schedules, focus on technology, and find it increasingly difficult to keep themselves from worrying about falling asleep at night-you are not the only one.

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Making a plan to deal with chronic sleep deprivation is the best way to ensure that you are actually taking action and not just gathering information. At some point, it is important to sit down alone or work with your doctor to develop an action plan and take specific steps to help you manage your lack of sleep.

More importantly, you will find that once you start to sleep better, you will have more energy and be able to deal with daily problems better. It may be that you lack sleep more than you realize. Only by improving your sleep through changes can you finally notice the changes when you wake up every day.

What is your plan? When you still remember all this information, please write it down immediately. And, if you want to help a friend or family member, be sure to write down what might be helpful to that person so that you don’t forget it the next time you see them.