Sleeping is one of the most fascinating phenomenon for curious minds. Scientists worldwide have been researching how all mankind “partially dies” daily, yet it is perceived as “normal”.

The idea of sleep has been under research for many years. However, the need for detailed study in the field accelerated in the early 2000’s when escalating voluntary choices of humans to reduce their sleep cycle became prominent.

What amuses us is the very basic human nature. We twist the laws of nature and then complain about body ailments. Frequently, we dump the idea of a “healthy lifestyle” and “balanced diet” and then fall sick. Lack of exercise and inadequate diet is undoubtedly the most prevalent reason people fall sick; however, “sleep deprivation” is also one of the main contributors. The human body requires at least 6 hours of sleep daily, and additional hours can be cut-down accordingly. However, the long-term effects of curtailment in the form of Partial Sleep Deprivation (PSD) are prevalent. (Michele Ferrara and Luigi De Gennaro,2001). As per CDC (center for disease control and prevention), it is recommended for an adult to sleep at least seven to nine hours daily.

Although the sleep requirement of humans varies depending upon the regime, physical activities involved in the day and genetic structure, as a rule of thumb, a human sleeping for less than 7 hours a day can be broadly considered sleep deprived.

The grave concern

Globally, as per the survey conducted by SingleCare in 2021, 30% of the respondents have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder. However, this data just pins out the diagnosed patients. There are plenty of others who are not diagnosed yet and report issues with their sleep. As per the Philips Global Sleep Survey of 2019, 62% of adults globally fail to sleep as adequately as they would prefer.

Bedtime procrastination translates to deliberately delaying sleep post surrendering to procrastination. The term has been gaining popularity considering the occurrence of the phenomenon. In 2020, P Magalhães described in their research paper that almost 60% of adults procrastinated while in bed. The underlying reason for showcasing such behaviour can be related to stress and poor daily routine.

As per the data cited by the Government of Australia, one out of ten people suffers from at least one sleep disorder roughly translates to 33-45% of Australian adults suffering from inadequate sleep.

As a result, sleep deprivation's impacts can be seen in personal and professional lives. For example, more than 17% people skip work due to lack of adequate sleep and more than 20% report that they have been unable to perform efficiently at work because they were too tired. These are the impacts on the professional well-being of humans. However, this is a minor issue compared to the health effects caused by sleep deprivation.

Failing to fulfil the adequate sleep requirement of the body, a human automatically becomes prone to ailments. Sleep is crucial to rejuvenating the body and mind. As per Harvard healthy Sleep, sleep facilitates “restoring” and “recharging” the body. It acts as a bridge that links reality and imagination. However, growing stress, exploitation of electronic media, work obligations, poor hygiene and medical ailments result in escalated sleep deprivation among adults.

Changes in Sleep pattern and time: A Brief History

Sleep for the past few decades has somehow intermingled with leisure time. With the annual working hours of an average US adult increasing from 1786 hours to 1949 hours from 1969 to 1987 (Scholar JB, 1991), the impacts could be directly seen in the sleep pattern.

With an average reduction of 1.5 hours of sleep over the past few decades (Ferrara De Gennaro,2001), an increase in the working hours proportionately led to slim sleep cycle. 

The underlying reasons:

  • As per the research conducted by The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health in 2016 for Australian adults, 52% of the people preferred to watch TV before going to bed, and 44% preferred to indulge in internet surfing. The numbers have increased drastically over the past few years.
  • Amid the pandemic and global lockdown, people spend most of their time glued to their electronic devices for work or a break from work; all was done electronically. During the pandemic, people were forced to change their schedules and regime, which led to an even more rise in the number of sleep-deprived people. Prevalent stress and anxiety are the leading cause of lack of sleep during the pandemic, a paper published by Charles M. Morin in 2020 states.
  • Sleep deprivation has been widely linked to stress and psychological fatigue in the body. However, people with previous medical history or undergoing any illness are also highly prone to sleep deprivation, as per Siaw Cheok Liew and Thidar Aung, who published their research paper about how health issues affect sleep.
  • Sleep deprivation is also caused by deliberately “choosing not to fall asleep”. As discussed earlier, the Bedtime procrastination phenomenon is most commonly seen in females and young adults (18-35 years).
  • Besides the discussed factors, poor hygiene and external environmental factors such as noisy neighbourhoods are other causes.

Health Impacts due to lack of sleep:

Our bodies can comprehend ditching sleep for a day or two. This is because we are designed that way. However, prolonged exploitation of the ability to combat lack of sleep can impact health adversely. Humans are complex beings which have an interdependent mechanism to function adequately. Any disturbance in its natural pattern disturbs the entire body's ecosystem and impacts different areas differently. For instance, it is fascinating how sleep regulates the growth of the hypothalamus gland; in the absence/lack of sleep, children become obese.

Many types of research have been conducted detailing the adverse impacts of slim sleep cycle on the health of humans.

As per WHO (World Health Organization), sleep deprivation not only leads to issues related to health, such as chronic sleep disorders, insomnia (inability to fall asleep) and Narcolepsy (irresistible daytime sleepiness) but also contributes to serious health issues, such as obesity, cardiovascular disorders and clinical depression.


According to the research conducted by CDC, a short sleep duration results in a change in metabolism and is linked to obesity. In addition, the inability of the body to rejuvenate adequately leads to restricted growth of the hypothalamus gland, which regulates the energy supply to the body. Since hypothalamus gland is developed in adults, the study concludes that the occurrence is more prominent in children than adults.


Sleep regulates the blood hormone Hemoglobin A1c, responsible for regulating and controlling blood sugar levels in the body. Therefore, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to irregular sugar levels, resulting in diabetes.

Mental burnout

Mental burnout is a prominent effect of lack of sleep. You might have noticed if you lack sleep the previous night, you tend to feel tired and sleepy. It is due to the lack of adequate regulation in the body.

As per the research of MA Al-Abri published in 2015, acute lack of sleep might also lead to symptoms of depression.

Mental burnout due to lack of sleep will also aid in poor performance at work, memory loss, poor concentration, irritated mood and unhealthy family & social interactions.

As per the research, people in the office feel more irritated and exhausted if they have a poor work-life balance.

Physical Burnout

Sleep deprivation not only impacts mental but rather impact physical health as well. The common symptoms that can be seen resulting from sleep deficiency are body aches, cramps and headaches accompanied by body exhaustion.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Diseases related to the circulation of blood are called cardiovascular diseases. Kasasbeh E, Chi DS and Krishnaswamy G in 2006 claimed in their research that Sleep Apnea could help predict cardiovascular diseases. Imbalanced sleep patterns and disturbance in the sleep cycle adversely impact the heart of the circulatory system.


Although human bodies have self-healing properties, the immune system can eliminate infections and minor abnormalities. However, this ability shall not be exploited frequently. Pushing the immune system to the edge and testing the boundaries of the human body will only lead to fatal consequences. Instead, an adequate balance between work and leisure time shall be established and exercised, and the optimum benefits of sound sleep shall be reaped.

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