Five Ways Sleep Deprivation Impacts Your Life

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

If you have insomnia and are unable to sleep for more than a few hours a night, you already know that it makes you feel tired. You and your loved ones probably also know that lack of sleep can make you grumpy. What you may not know is how lack of sleep affects other areas of your life, such as your sex life, mental health, appearance, and more. Here are five ways sleep deprivation can impact your life.

Decreased sex drive

If you do not get enough sleep, it can change your sex drive. Sleep specialists report that women and men who are sleep deprived-due to insomnia or other health issues-have lesser interest in sexual activity, as well as lower libidos. This can generally be blamed on being too tired for sex, having no energy, and the stress and anxiety that often accompanies insomnia.

Men who are sleep deprived due to sleep apnea may also have low testosterone levels, which could account for a change in sex drive. A study completed in 2002 found that almost half of all men who had sleep apnea produced very low levels of testosterone [1].

Depression and anxiety

Going without normal, routined sleep for prolonged periods of time has an impact on mental health. A poll taken in 2005 of individuals who were dealing with anxiety or depression showed that they generally slept six or fewer hours per night [2]. Furthermore, a study completed in 2007 showed that individuals who had insomnia were five times more likely to also be diagnosed with depression [3].

Your appearance

If you go without a good night’s rest for a few nights, you may notice dark circles under your eyes, or your eyes may become puffy. However, if you go without normal, regular sleep for prolonged periods of time, the overall appearance of your skin can change.

You may develop fine lines and your skin may lose its luster. Sleep is when the body releases human growth hormone, which does the repair work to the body’s tissues. Too little sleep means your body may not be releasing the human growth hormone it needs to keep your skin healthy.

Weight gain

If you are not sleeping as you should, you may notice a change in weight gain. Going without sleep can increase your hunger and appetite. A study conducted in 2004 showed that individuals who slept fewer than six hours a night were 30 percent more likely to become obese than their peers who slept seven to nine hours per night [4].

Research is also showing that there may be a link between peptitdes that regulate appetite and sleep. Shortened sleep periods lead to a decrease in the peptides that signal the brain that the body is full.

Impaired judgment

When you are sleep deprived your judgment can become impaired about how much sleep you need. Individuals who suffer from insomnia may feel they have adapted to their lack of sleep and that they can function as well as others who get adequate sleep. This is generally not the case.

Studies have shown that for those who get sox or fewer hours a night, overall mental alertness slows down, as well as the ability to judge and access personal sleep needs. You may also become so impaired by sleep loss that you are unable to even realize it.

One thing is for certain: insomnia can rob you of more than just rest. It can affect your health, lifestyle and your appearance. And these are just a few ways that lack of sleep can impact your life. If you are suffering from insomnia, or think you have a sleeping disorder, it’s crucial that you seek help today.

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Land’s free online sleep training course for insomnia. Over 2,500 insomniacs have completed his course and 98% of graduates say they would recommend it to a friend.


[1] Luboshitzky, Rafael. et al. "Decreased Pituitary-Gonadal Secretion in Men with Obstructive Sleep Apnea" The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2002 87:7, 3394-3398. Web. 6 March 2015.

[2] National Sleep Foundation: "Teens and Sleep," "ABCs of ZZZZs -- When you Can't Sleep", 2005 Adult Sleep Habits and Styles. Web. 6 March 2015.

[3] Neckelmann, D. et al., "Chronic Insomnia as a Risk Factor for Developing Anxiety and Depression", Sleep. 2007; 30 (7): 873-880. Web. 6 March 2015.

[4] Gangwisch, J.E. et al., "Inadequate sleep as a risk factor for obesity: analyses of the NHANES I", Sleep. 2005 Oct;28(10):1289-96. Web. 6 March 2015.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.