Sleep Deprivation & Performance Impacts


What is Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a general term used to describe the state caused by inadequate quantity and/or quality of sleep. Sleep is an essential part of maintaining both our physical and mental health, and although each person’s habits can differ, the required sleep for an adult is 7-9 hours every night. 

There are real consequences to missing out on valuable sleep, and if it continues over a long period of time, it can have a detrimental effect on your health, quality of life and overall performance. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis can eventually lead to health consequences that affect your entire body. Sleep deprivation may also be caused by an underlying sleep disorder such as Sleep Apnea.

Patients coming through our clinic report feelings of daytime lethargy, inability to stay focused when reading or studying and lack of motivation,
along with increased levels of stress, irritability, depression and anxiety.

Every day many Australians are desperately trying to balance the growing demands of work with family and leisure time, and in an attempt to find more hours, people are pushing back on sleep. A 2016 Sleep Health Survey found  that inadequate sleep of either duration or quality, and its daytime consequences affect 33-45% of Australian adults, also finding that people over the age of 45 are more likely to turn to caffeine when they are tired 1 which increases your heart rate and may cause your blood pressure to increase.2

This is not just happening in Australia, but around the globe. In fact, a 2018 study by the Oxford University Press SLEEP journal10 described the lack of sleep a ‘worldwide epidemic’. The European Society of Cardiology places lack of sleep on the same level as smoking, lack of exercise, and poor diet. When it comes to risk factors for cardiovascular disease it found that 63% of people who had a heart attack also had a sleeping disorder.3

The consequences of sleep problems are not just felt by you. The disruption of a bed partner's sleep due to a sleep disorder may cause significant problems for the relationship such as separate bedrooms, conflicts, and moodiness.

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If you are experiencing the above symptoms, it could be time to get a sleep study.

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Over 30% of mySleep patients testing for sleep apnea, suffer symptoms of depression, irritability and anxiety


Sleep deprivation results in a 60% higher probablity of injury risk in sporting activities  4




Every 30 seconds there is a car accident linked to lack of sleep.5




Sleep deprivation reduces memory storage by up to 40%. 5



The three pillars of a healthy lifestyle

The World Health Organisation has declared sleep as one of the three pillars essential to life. If you do not make sleep your priority, you will not be healthy. 

Getting sufficient sleep is a necessity, not a luxury and poor sleep is associated with several unhealthy side effects such as: 

  • Increased risk of Type II Diabetes and Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Impaired memory and problem-solving issues
  • Increased Fatigue, leading to road and workplace accidents
  • Depression, anxiety, and mood disturbances 
  • Disruption of bed partner's sleep quality
  • Poor performance at work
  • Poor quality of life

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Sleep and Your Immune System

Insufficient sleep can weaken the immune system and over the long term can have more serious health implications.

Sleep deprivation is correlated with an increased risk of several chronic conditions. The RAND corporation has estimated that the mortality rate for individuals who consistently get fewer than 6 hours of sleep per night is 13% higher than those who routinely sleep seven or more hours per night.6

Studies show that people who do not get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do become unwell. While more sleep will not necessarily prevent you from getting sick, skimping on it could adversely affect your immune system. Chronic sleep loss reduces the effectiveness of vaccines7 and causes inflammation that can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, putting the immune system on high alert and increases your risk of cancer.8 

Health Risks of Sleep Apnea



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Road Safety

Driving when sleep deprived puts you, your family and your passengers at increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Drowsy driving kills more people on the road than alcohol and drugs combined. When you have poor sleep, you can have microsleeps and if you are driving, that means you have a heavy missile travelling at speed and no one is in control. 

Lack of sleep has been compared to the equivalent of the effects of 2 standard drinks after only 17 hours awake, and if you are really pushing the limits up to 4 standard drinks after 24 hours of sleep deprivation. Studies showing 1 extra hour of sleep reduced road accidents by 70%. By comparison the advent of ABS only reduced accidents by about 25%.4

Click here for more information on your road safety and Jet's Law.

Commercial Driver Safety

Reduction in Daytime Performance

Sleep deprivation is shown to unequivically impair your cognitive performance. Sleep deprived people can have mild cognitive impairment, such as slower reaction times, or can experience more serious problems, such as errors in judgement and decision making.9 These effects can lead to both a decrease in work performance and an increase in accidents. 

A sleep study by Hult International Business School10 has demonstrated that tiredness in the workplace can have a profound impact on your productivity. The study found from the 30 cognitive aspects tested in this study results indicated impacts to decision making ability, creativity, productivity, processing ability, adaptability, and ability to manage emotions.

Sleep deprivation can limit your ability to comprehend and communicate in rapidly changing environments, produce innovative solutions to problems, display emotional intelligence, anticipate risk and stay focussed in a work environment. 11

Work Place Performance & Safety



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Is it time to re-capture your mojo?


Our team are here to help you get your life back on track and start reaching your goals. If you are feeling the pain of sleep deprivation that could be caused by sleep apnea it could be time you talk to your GP and get tested today!


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1. Sleep Health Foundation 2016, 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults, industry report.
2. Dr Travis Stock, from The Doctors Daytime Talk Show, Side Effects of Lack of Sleep.
3. European Society, Science Daily, Poor Sleep Associated with Increased Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke.
4. Matthew Walker, (2018), "Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams"
5. Matthew Walker (2018), TED Talk "Sleep is your SuperPower"
6. RAND Corporation, Why Sleep Matters, 30 November, 2016.
7. National Sleep Foundation, 28 July 2020, How Sleep Effects your Immunity.
8. Dr Jen Ashton, ABC News America, Sleep Deprivation, and the Effects on your Body.
9. Harvey R Colten and Bruce M Altevogt, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation.
10. Hult International Business School (blog) "The Business of Sleep"
11. Advanced Sleep Medicine Services Inc, (blog) "The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Work Performance"

Your Sleep Health Journey