The Psychological Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Life is busy. We are constantly on the run and wearing many different hats. We are parents, friends, spouses, co-workers and more. We are constantly on the go, rushing from home to work to lunch and dinner with friends and to our kids’ extracurricular activities. Dishes pile up in the sink and paperwork piles up at the office and if life’s distractions aren’t keeping us up at night physically, the thoughts of our to-do lists are racing through our minds and keeping us from sleeping.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is dangerous. Not getting an ample amount of sleep can sincerely impact a large portion of your life. We all have heard just how important sleep is, but it is essential to understand that if you do not get enough sleep, you are doing harm to yourself and possibly putting yourself or others at risk. Most importantly, however, skipping out on sleep can severely impact you psychologically. You may lose touch with your true self and then end up having difficulties pulling out of the slump once you are in it.

Impact on Psychological Well Being

Sleep and your mental health are partners. They go hand in hand. Your mental health depends on you getting enough quality sleep. Individuals with depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD and anxiety are typical sufferers of sleep deprivation. According to multiple studies by Harvard, seventy sleep disorders exist today.

Weakened Immunity and Psychological Effects

Sleep deprivation takes a toll on your immune system. Sleep is important in building up your body’s defense to germs, bacteria, and viruses. Therefore, lack of sleep can make you sick and can also impact your rate of recovery. Sleep also is said to help your T cells to fight off infection. A strong and healthy immune system is paramount. A poor immune system can lead to psychological effects of stress, poor self-esteem and anxiety.


Missing out on sleep leads to stress, plain and simple. Reduced sleep will make coping with stress much more difficult and your daily stressors will become much larger and more of a hard blow to you. Instead of letting things roll off of you and moving onto the next issue or problem, one may become easily frustrated, short-tempered and frazzled. Getting your stressors under control is almost impossible as you try to function on only a few hours of interrupted sleep. Your sleep deprivation could even lead to its own source of stress, throwing another wrench into the equation. Thinking about your bad sleep could also keep you up at night as you lay awake thinking about the lack of sleep.


Poor sleep schedules and sleep deprivation are a giant vicious circle. Those who deal with anxiety issues naturally usually endure more sleep interruption. Having these sleeping issues can lead to more anxiety, just worsening the problem. This seems to perpetuate both the anxiety and sleep problems.

When your body and mind are exhausted from lack of sleep, trying to cope with anxiety conditions becomes more difficult and thus, it makes anxiety issues worse. One of the first steps in overcoming and coping with anxiety is actually ensuring proper sleep.


Sleep problems such as interrupted and spotty sleep or insomnia can be a symptom of depression, but, like anxiety, not having ample sleep can cause depression too. When you are mentally tired, your mental processes do not function properly and this could lead to lapse in judgement and even some imbalances.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition that is characterized by irregular ups and downs in a person’s mood and thought process. Variations in one’s sleep patterns is certainly a symptom of bipolar disorder but missing out on sleep is said to directly impact how one responds to treatment, quality of life and the overall course of the condition.


Those who are diagnosed with ADHD typically go through sleep-related conditions that hinder their ability to fall asleep, their ability to stay asleep and are usually very tired throughout the day. Having a lack of sleep can negatively contribute to one’s condition and worsen ADHD.

Treating ADHD usually involves looking deeply into one’s sleeping pattern and habits and making corrections and alterations to it as deemed necessary.