The five signs you’re not getting enough sleep

  • Overheating or making risky decisions can be signs that you’re not getting enough sleep
  • Other signs that you are sleep deprived could include cravings for a snack or poor memory

Balancing work, social life, and staying fit and healthy can mean that a good night’s sleep is often sacrificed.

But a lack of closed eyes can trigger far-reaching and serious health problems that go beyond just feeling tired.

This is because snoozing is vital for the healing of the heart and blood vessels, while those who are extremely sleep deprived may even be at risk of damaging their organs.

Here, MailOnline reveals the five signs you’re not getting enough sleep, according to retailer Bed Kingdom.

Warning signs of not getting enough sleep include snack cravings, poor memory, overheating, weight gain and making wrong decisions

Desire for a snack

If you suddenly feel the urge to indulge in takeout or junk food, it could be a sign that you’re sleep deprived.

According to scientists at the University of California, a lack of sleep alters appetite-regulating hormones.

The small 2014 study monitored the food cravings of 23 healthy participants on nights when they slept normally and nights of total sleep deprivation.

They found that participants were more likely to turn to junk food when volunteers weren’t getting enough sleep. Researchers believe this is due to cravings for high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-fat snacks to increase energy levels.

But researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found in 2019 that cravings for unhealthy food in people who don’t get enough sleep could be down to their nose or their olfactory system — the sense of smell.

Experts believe that when you’re sleep deprived, your nose is too tired to give your brain enough information about different food smells.

This can lead you to reach for richer, stronger-smelling foods, often junk food.

READ MORE: Getting up early for work? Because of this, it could be bad for you

Bad memory

Many people may feel more forgetful when they are tired.

This is because sleep deprivation impairs the brain’s ability to learn and retrieve information.

During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is known for dreaming, the brain is active, building and storing memories from the previous day, according to the Sleep Foundation.

Less sleep disrupts this process, disrupting the formation of memories and the assimilation of information.

And people who are sleep deprived are even at risk of forming false memories, according to a 60-person study by Singaporean medical professionals and published in the Journal of Sleep Research in 2016.

Not only is memory impaired by lack of sleep, sleep is also essential for strengthening learning and absorbing motor skills and physical reflexes – hence the term muscle memory.

This is another reason why a high percentage of car accidents are due to sleep deprivation, as experts say sleep-deprived drivers have slower reaction times.

weight gain

Lack of sleep can even make trying to lose weight difficult.

Sleep duration has long been linked to the body’s production of appetite-regulating hormones, according to researchers at Harvard University.

They say insufficient sleep is linked to higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite and signals hunger.

Sleep deprivation is also linked to lower levels of the hormone leptin, which is needed to make you feel full.

As a result, higher ghrelin levels coupled with less leptin makes you feel hungrier and your body responds more slowly when you’re full – increasing the risk of overeating.

Sleep deprivation also increases stress, which leads to increases in cortisol levels.

Cortisol is a stress hormone responsible for storing energy (sugar and fat) for later use. So, higher levels of this hormone means your body retains more fat.

How much sleep does the human need?

How much sleep you need each night to avoid sleep deprivation depends on your age.

Newborns (0 to 3 months) need between 14 and 17 hours of sleep.

Infants (4 to 11 months) need between 12 and 15 hours of sleep.

Infants (1 to 2 years) need in between 11 to 14 hours of sleep.

Children aged 3 to 5 need 10 to 13 hours of sleep.

Children aged 6 to 12 years need 9 to 12 hours of sleep.

Youth (13 to 18 years) need 8 to 10 hours of sleep.

Adults aged 18 to 60 need 7 or more hours of sleep.

Adults aged 61 to 64 years need 7 to 9 hours of sleep.

Adults aged 65 and over need 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Experts say insulin levels are also affected by not getting enough sleep, since higher cortisol levels make the body less sensitive to insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that converts food into energy. The body has a harder time processing fats from the bloodstream when it is less sensitive to insulin.

Over time, this leads to fat storage in the body and weight gain.

Bad decision making

Studies show that sleep loss is associated with risky decisions.

In 2020, scientists in Italy examined the effects of total and partial sleep deprivation on a person’s risk-taking and impulsiveness.

They studied 74 people – 32 of whom had a night of as many hours of sleep as was normal for them (they all said they usually get 7-8 hours) followed by a night of no sleep, and came in at 9pm in a lab and stay up all night.

The rest of the people, 42, had five nights of normal sleep, according to their own sleeping patterns, followed by five nights of partial sleep deprivation – where they had to go to bed at 2am and wake up at 7am.

They found that those who were sleep deprived for longer periods, albeit partially, suffered more adverse outcomes.

For the study, published in the journal Nature of Science and Sleep, the authors wrote, “Among the effects of sleep loss, people [who are] habitually becoming more thoughtful and cautious, becoming more impulsive and risk-taking during decision-making based on deliberative considerations.’

Experts have suggested that this increased risk-taking associated with sleep deprivation is due to decreased functioning of the prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that regulates thoughts, actions, and emotions.


Sleep is vital for the body to regulate our internal temperature, experts say.

Without sleep, it struggles to maintain the normal temperature of 37 °C (98.6 °F).

That means the more tired people get, the hotter their brains could get, according to the Boston University scientists.

Yawning — a telltale sign of fatigue — is one way to compensate for this thermoregulatory failure and helps cool the brain, they say.

So the next time you’re feeling hot and uncomfortable, it could be a sign that you need some extra sleep.

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