What happens when you are sleep deprived?

What happens when you are sleep deprived?

“The Awakening”, an illustration to writing by Leo Tolstoy

Sleep Deprivation Poses a Great Threat

Sleep deprivation causes memory deficits, contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes, and increases depressive symptoms. 

Firstly, sleep deprivation causes memory deficits and results in lower grade-point-averages. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and Non-REM sleep are two states of our sleep cycle, and certain types of memory are dependent on specific sleep states. According to scientific theory, memories, such as procedural memory and declarative memory (knowing how and knowing what), require an orderly succession of sleep stages (Shelley et al., 2014). Some students may study all night before exams in hopes of better grades.

However, sleep deprivation impairs neuron function of the hippocampus (nerve cell in the brain), which is involved in episodic memory. So, staying up late is the wrong plan because insufficient sleep disrupts the learning that occurs during sleep (Robert et al., 2016). Sleep‐deprived adolescents were more likely to form false memories after multiple nights of experimentally reduced sleep opportunities.

They are vulnerable to the interfering effects of misleading post‐event information (Shankari et al., 2016). Sleeping before and after learning may be equally important. In an episodic memory task, subjects with insufficient sleep before the test performed approximately 20% worse than the control. In another study, subjects performed significantly better after 12 hours of sleep (Shelley et al., 2014). Concentration is an essential part of university education, given its role in information processing, study schedule planning, and self-monitoring.

Researchers studied a sample of more than 1300 highly educated Netherland students. They found that reduced sleep and worse sleep quality were both significantly associated with lower academic achievement and study concentration (Kristiaan et al., 2017).

Sleep deprivation may also affect students’ collaboration ability. Benjamin finds that sleep-deprived participants were less efficient and less accurate when acting on instructions to build an abstract model (Benjamin et al., 2019). Overall, researchers found an association between sleep and GPA. In fact, some wealthier students at Ivy League schools have reportedly been purchasing specialized mattresses and the best adjustable beds money can buy.

Students who obtained more than 9 hours of sleep had higher GPAs than those who had less than 6 hours of sleep. Their GPAs were 3.24 vs. 2.74 on average, respectively (Kelly, 2001). On the whole, sleep deprivation harms students’ memory and such that negatively affects their academic performance. 

In addition to its damage to the brain, sleep deprivation impairs human metabolic function. It is a contributor to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Sleep deprivation results in increased sympathetic nervous activity, increased cortisol levels in the evening, and increased growth hormone levels during the daytime (Kristen et al., 2008). Cortisol is a hormone that contributes to increased fat accumulation in the visceral region. Sleep deprivation also causes the loss of REM sleep, which leads to reduced glucose tolerance (J-P Chaput et al., 2017).

Moreover, all of these can, in turn, contribute to increased insulin resistance (Kristen et al., 2008). Insulin resistance can develop into type 2 diabetes without timely regulation. In cross-sectional studies, sleep duration has a negative correlation with BMI in both adults and children. Furthermore, people with short sleep duration are 1.5 times more likely to have obesity, with a 0.35 kg/m^2 increase in BMI for every 1-hour reduction of sleep (“Sleep: A Health Imperative,” 2012).

After sleep deprivation, the levels of leptin (a hormone that regulates satiety) are lower. Less time sleeping also allows for more opportunities to eat since people need food to compensate for the additional energetic cost of wakefulness. Sleep deprivation may also stimulate activity in brain regions involved in the appeal and consumption of desserts among adolescents (Gregory et al., 2016). As a result, sleep loss and fatigue caused by eating too much may reduce energy consumption, mainly through decreased physical exercise (Kristen et al., 2008). In conclusion, sleep deprivation is a major cause of metabolic disorders. 

Although sleep deprivation has attracted attention because of its negative effect on the human body, the impact of sleep deprivation on emotional processing has received far less interest. In addition, Sleep deprivation can increase depressive symptoms. In a study of college students, insufficient sleep was associated with greater depressive symptoms (Regestein et al., 2010).
What happens when you are sleep deprived?

On the other hand, increased total sleep in students has also shown to improve mood. When schools delay start time by 30 minutes, fewer students rate themselves as unhappy or depressed (Shelley et al., 2014). According to Teen Health 2000, researchers reported that sleep deprivation on weeknights and weekends is linked to 41% higher odds of a depressed mood a year later (Annalijn et al., 2018).

In conclusion, female students are also more likely affected by sleep deprivation. From Annalijn’s study, there is a monotonic relationship between sleep deprivation and increases in depression among young women, 15% of young women were chronically sleep-deprived, and 29% of them were depressed (Annalijn et al., 2018). Aside from depression, sleep loss also impairs human emotion recognition. Matthew concludes that one night of sleep deprivation significantly amplifies the human reaction to increasingly negative and aversive picture stimuli and amplifies disruptive daytime events’ negative emotional consequences (Matthew et al., 2010).

Lastly, sleep deprivation contributes to emotional problems, especially depression.

Annotated Bibliography 

Hershner, Shelley. D., & Chervin, R. D. (2014). Causes and consequences of sleepiness among college students. Nature and science of sleep, 6, 73–84. 


Daytime sleepiness, sleep deprivation, and irregular sleep schedules are highly prevalent among college students. This article includes studies on how insufficient sleep impairs human memory. I use this resource in my first paragraph. It also includes sleep deprivation’s effects on depression, and I didn’t choose to use it but just a brief idea of how to organize my third sub-claim. 

Havekes, R., Park, A. J., Tudor, J. C., Luczak, V. G., Hansen, R. T., Ferri, S. L., Bruinenberg, V. M., Poplawski, S. G., Day, J. P., Aton, S. J., Radwańska, K., Meerlo, P., Houslay, M. D., Baillie, G. S., & Abel, T. (2016). Sleep deprivation causes memory deficits by negatively impacting neuronal connectivity in hippocampal area CA1. eLife, 5, e13424. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.13424 

This article includes complicated research on sleep deprivation causes memory deficits by impairing hippocampal neurons. I briefly read through the paper and found that it is so hard for my audience and me to understand. Therefore, I try to use informal language to cite their conclusion and avoid using biological terms since they can make my essay more convincing and understandable. 

Lo, J.C., Chong, P.L.H., Ganesan, S., Leong, R.L.F. and Chee, M.W.L. (2016), Sleep deprivation increases formation of false memory. J Sleep Res, 25: 673-682. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12436 

This article introduces the idea that sleep deprivation causes false memory. False memory is intuitive and easy to understand for my audience. I think it’s supplementary evidence for my first half paragraph. Although it also has an interesting and rigorous study, I choose to only cite the final discussion and conclusion to avoid complicated statistical theories. 

van der Heijden, K.B., Vermeulen, M.C.M., Donjacour, C.E.H.M., Gordijn, M.C.M., Hamburger, H.L., Meijer, A.M., van Rijn, K.J., Vlak, M. and Weysen, T. (2018), Chronic sleep reduction is associated with academic achievement and study concentration in higher education students. J Sleep Res, 27: 165-174. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12596 

This article illustrates a direct correlation between sleep deprivation and academic performance. It helps me move from memory to a practical thing–GPA. I think studies related to GPA can

effectively attract my audience’s attention. I used a sample study in the Netherlands to prove the negative relationship between sleep deprivation and GPA. 

Holding, B.C., Sundelin, T., Lekander, M. et al (2019). Sleep deprivation and its effects on communication during individual and collaborative tasks. Sci Rep 9, 3131. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39271-6 

This article is a relatively new study on sleep deprivation. I think communication plays an important role in students’ GPA. So the negative effects of insufficient sleep have on communication indirectly affect students’ academic results. 

Kelly WE, Kelley KE, Clanton RC (2001). The relationship between sleep length and grade-point average among college students. Coll Stud J. 2001;35(1):84–86. 

I found this from “Causes and consequences of sleepiness among college students” (I cite it above). The author compares GPA of students who have long sleep and students who obtain insufficient sleep. It is strong proof of my claim, even though it’s a little bit old. 

Knutson, K.L. and Van Cauter, E. (2008), Associations between Sleep Loss and Increased Risk of Obesity and Diabetes. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1129: 287-304. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1417.033 

This article demonstrates how sleep deprivation causes obesity and type 2 diabetes in detail. Since it uses a lot of biological terms and theories, I choose to rephrase them as intuitively as possible. I also combine them with similar concepts from other papers to demonstrate the cause and effect relationship between sleep and obesity and T2D because this article is old. 

What happens when you are sleep deprived?

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Dutil, C., Chaput, JP (2017). Inadequate sleep as a contributor to type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. Nutr. Diabetes 7, e266. 


Moreover, I cite this article to demonstrate how insufficient sleep causes diabetes. It mentions the loss of REM sleep can contribute to T2D, which I have introduced earlier in this paper. So, I believe this up-to-date evidence helps prove my previous claim and citation. 

Luyster, F. S., Strollo, P. J., Jr. Zee, P. C., Walsh, J. K. (2012), & Boards of Directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. Sleep: a health imperative. Sleep, 35(6), 727–734. https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.1846

This article is mainly about sleep deprivation negatively associated with obesity. The researchers use BMI to evaluate people’s health from different areas. I use their findings to support my sub-claim–sleep deprivation contributes to obesity. 

Gregory D. M. Potter, Debra J. Skene, Josephine Arendt, Janet E. Cade, Peter J. Grant, Laura J. Hardie(2016), Circadian Rhythm and Sleep Disruption: Causes, Metabolic Consequences, and Countermeasures, Endocrine Reviews, Volume 37, Issue 6, Pages 584–608, https://doi.org/10.1210/er.2016-1083 

This article includes many things related to sleep deprivation such as basic information about the body system. I cite the metabolism part to help demonstrate how sleep deprivation causes obesity. For example, it says insufficient sleep stimulates the corresponding brain regions, which guides us to eat more food. 

What happens when you are sleep deprived?
Regestein Q, Natarajan V, Pavlova M, Kawasaki S, Gleason R, Koff E (2010). Sleep debt and depression in female college students. Psychiatry Res.;176(1):34–39. 

I found this article from my first citation, it helps me effectively introduce my sub-claim–sleep deprivation causes depression. 

Conklin, A.I., Yao, C.A. & Richardson, C.G (2018). Chronic sleep deprivation and gender-specific risk of depression in adolescents: a prospective population-based study. BMC Public Health 18, 724. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5656-6 

What happens when you are sleep deprived?

This article studied more than 3000 young people and found that chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of depression in female adolescents. This study fits well with my audience, so I cite it to call her attention. Researchers took two depression measures over one year and found a huge amount of young women who lack enough sleep had higher depression scores. van der Helm, E., Gujar, N., & Walker, M. P. (2010). Sleep deprivation impairs the accurate recognition of human emotions. Sleep, 33(3), 335–342. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/33.3.335 

I cite this article because I want to extend my topic. Sleep deprivation not only increases depressive symptoms but causes other emotional problems. My audience might believe that she could never get depression, but she should also keep in mind other potential problems related to her mental health.

What happens when you are sleep deprived?