You may feel like you’re getting enough sleep every night, but if you sleep for an average of less than seven hours, you may be sleep deprived. The amount of sleep needed varies from one person to another, but in general, adults need seven to nine hours every night to feel well rested and alert.

The main symptom of sleep deprivation is excessive daytime sleepiness, but other side effects include:

  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness

Sleep deprivation can also affect you physically. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep deprivation can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, obesity and diabetes.

If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, use these tips to help you snooze:

  • Stick to the same bedtime during the week and on weekends.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual.
  • Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
  • Exercise every day.
  • Make your bedroom cool (60-67° F), dark and quiet.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine close to bedtime.

There is no substitute for sufficient sleep. The only way to overcome sleep deprivation is to sleep.

Real-life Case Study

Two third-shift workers in a sugar cane warehouse were driving front end loaders to load bags of sugar cane into a hopper to be delivered to a manufacturer.
One worker told the other that he felt tired after only sleeping for four hours before his shift that night. He said his mind was wandering and he couldn’t stop yawning. His co-worker assured him that they were halfway through their shift, so he would be home in a few hours.
The tired worker was slowly backing away from the hopper when he momentarily fell asleep. He hit his co-worker’s loader, broke the windows and struck his co-worker in the chest, severely injuring him.
An investigation of the accident revealed that the worker who fell asleep at the wheel had indeed not had sufficient sleep in the previous 12 hours. Sleep deprivation was found to be the cause of the accident.
This accident could have been prevented if both people had recognized the signs of sleep deprivation and the tired worker had been removed from operating heavy machinery.