Signs I Am Sleep Deprived

Last updated: November 2022

In my case, sleep deprivation is an ongoing state of being. That whole "I’ll catch up on the weekend" idea has never seemed to work. The worse it gets, the less you are even able to "catch up" on it even if you wanted to.

I definitely can’t now. I get what I get, and I am lucky to get that.

Signs that I'm sleep deprived

There are a few ways I can tell if I'm experiencing sleep deprivation:

Blinking a lot and micro-naps

Blinking is a sleep risk factor for me during the day. Winking is safe. As long as one eye is open, all is good — strange, but good. But a nice long blink? Well, that can lead to a nice little micro-nap attack. And then another. And another. Then someone better hand me a pillow, because I’m going to sleep right there.

It should be noted that being even remotely comfortable is also a risk factor for me — so sitting down, reclining, leaning against any surface, you name it. My brain wants to go into sleep mode.

Meditation injuries

I don’t know if I am so extremely awesome at meditation such that I Zen out super fast, or if I am getting a real F grade at it. But I do know that it has the potential for injury.

I do what I always do with meditation: close my eyes. Chill my breathing. Then, BAM! Asleep. And I wake up with the nice surprise of falling face-first into my laptop.

'Zoning out'

Then there is the whole sleeping-with-your-eyes-open trick. At first, I’m listening, somewhat intently, as someone describes in finite detail what they ate for lunch. All those exciting details. The next thing I know, I'm zoned out, looking at their face but not really focused on anything, and I definitely have no idea what they have been saying. Unfortunately, they just asked a question. Maybe the answer is tuna? Let’s go for it!

Poor decision-making

This happens mostly because I’m only half-conscious. Have you ever watched an infomercial late at night and went, "Huh... you know what? That does sound like something I should buy." Those sort of decision-making skills — except then, 2 days later, I end up with an Amazon package and wonder why I ordered something. And also wonder what it is. Because Amazon is way more tempting than an infomercial, apparently. I never really remember ordering the thing.

The nap attack

Random nap attacks occur for me anywhere, anytime. It’s my new superpower.

Then there's the DOUBLE nap attack. This is when I wake up from a nap that should be refreshing and try to get up to do something, but I’m so insanely tired that I basically fall back into a deep coma-like sleep again without being able to do anything about it. I'm beyond groggy. It is like being sleep-drunk. I can’t pull out of it. The vortex drags me back down.

Cognitive impairment and hallucinations

Oh, you can get things done with that brain ball, but it will be done infinitely slowly. And sometimes if a math problem comes my way, I may think the answer is "pickle." And I will defend that answer.

That isn’t even mentioning the fact that when I’m sleep deprived my brain makes it even harder to sleep by causing sleep paralysis episodes, spontaneous hypnic jerks (rapid kicks as you’re falling asleep that consequently wake you up), and those twilight hallucinations before wake and sleep that are just trippy (hearing the doorbell, knocking, your name shouted, seeing someone who isn't there or people talking... all sorts of things).

That all began to happen once it became a chronic state for me. That is when my doctors began to try and treat it, back in the day.

Managing chronic pain, sleep disorders, and RLS

I don't feel I can treat the sleep issues without treating the pain issue. It's been a consistent issue up until I recently went to the pain clinic.

I had my restless legs syndrome (RLS) somewhat managed. It isn’t just the pain or my deeply embedded insomnia; it's also comorbid sleep disorders jumping on board.

Do you struggle with the impacts of sleep deprivation on daily activities because of your RLS or other sleep disorders? Share with us in the comments below.

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