The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation

People need sleep to survive. Sleep allows your body to repair itself and perform essential biological functions. Adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. But sometimes, work and lifestyle factors may disrupt your ability to sleep.

When you get less sleep than needed or no sleep at all, it’s called sleep deprivation.

For most people, a short bout of sleep deprivation isn’t a cause for concern. But frequent or prolonged sleep deprivation can cause serious health issues.

Lack of sleep can lead to poor cognitive function, increased inflammation, and reduced immune function. If sleep deprivation continues, it may increase your risk for chronic disease.

In general, there are five stages of sleep deprivation. The stages are usually divided into 12-hour or 24-hour increments. The symptoms usually get worse the longer you stay awake.

Sleep deprivation timeline

There isn’t a universal timeline for sleep deprivation.

However, the general stages are determined by how many hours of sleep you’ve missed. The symptoms of sleep deprivation tend to get worse in each stage.

Here’s what might happen to your body during sleep deprivation:

Stage 1: After 24 hours

It’s common to miss 24 hours of sleep. It also won’t cause major health problems, but you can expect to feel tired and “off.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, 24-hour sleep deprivation is the same as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent. That’s higher than the limit to legally drive.

Staying awake for 24 hours may cause symptoms like:

  • drowsiness
  • irritability
  • anger
  • increased risk of stress
  • decreased alertness
  • impaired concentration
  • brain fog
  • fatigue
  • tremors
  • reduced coordination
  • increased risk of mistakes or accidents
  • food cravings
  • puffy eyes
  • dark undereye circles

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