If you suffer from sleep deprivation, can it cause other sleep disorders?

Image of Dr Simon Kyle
By Dr Simon Kyle

“Can sleep deprivation cause sleep disorders?”

Many symptoms of sleep disorders have been found to be triggered by a lack of sleep. For example, sleep-walking events, sleep paralysis (the inability to initiate muscle movements at the onset of sleep or when waking-up) and sleep-related hallucinations (experienced when initiating sleep or waking-up from sleep) can often occur after several nights of poor sleep or irregular sleep-wake schedules.

Perhaps somewhat paradoxically, sleep loss may also exacerbate or be involved in the development of insomnia. For example, when someone has a very poor night of sleep, they may as a consequence feel more stressed or anxious the next day. These feelings often concern their ability to function, particularly whether or not they will obtain sleep the subsequent night. If, when approaching bedtime, these thoughts become increasingly salient, they may increase physiological and mental arousal, ultimately impairing the ability to initiate and maintain sleep. Thus, it is clear that sleep and how we feel and function during the day are highly interlinked.

Filed under: Sleep science