15 Weird Ways Being Sleepy Ruins Your Life (According to Science)

Yawning man

(Sander Sammy/Unsplash)

A bad night’s sleep universally sucks, but it’s not just an extra five minutes applying concealer or your local coffee shop’s exorbitant prices. Scientists have a huge knowledge-boner for studying sleep, and they’ve found that sleep deprivation affects everything from your emotional state to your risk tolerance to how hot you think people are, so brew a nice cup of herbal tea and snuggle in to find out how being sleepy wrecks your life.

Losing Your Sense of Humor

Serious man

(Mitchell Griest/Unsplash)

It takes a lot more brainpower to process that stupid pun than you think. Sleep disturbances are correlated with a disinclination to make jokes, so a rough night might mean you’re suddenly one of those serious people on Twitter.

Increased Sensitivity to Pain

Woman rubbing neck

(Klara Kulikova/Unsplash)

You know that slow, grouchy person who seems to be just waiting for someone to bump into them so they can eject a loud, pointed “Ooooowwww!”? They may not just be a drama queen. Sleep deprivation can reduce your pain threshold by more than 15 percent.

Decreased Empathy

It goes beyond simple grouchiness, too -- lack of sleep turns you into an uncaring jerk. When exposed to photos of people in emotional situations, sleep-deprived subjects displayed less empathy, responding more or less, “Ah, quit your belly-aching. Try my life for a while, pal.” It also turned them 83 years old for some reason.

Decreased Ability to Read Emotions

Smiling man

(Amir Seilsepour/Unsplash)

To be fair, those people might have just not realized the people in the photos were sad. Lack of sleep impairs your ability to read sadness or happiness on other people’s faces, so you might have no idea you upset someone, sending them on a years-long spiral that ends in a quest for revenge. The worst part is…

Thinking Other People Are Hotter Than They Are

On the off-chance you do manage to hook someone, you might find yourself wishing later that you’d thrown them back. Sleep-deprived men also rate women as more attractive than they do when they’re well rested, so depending on your sleep situation, it could be years before you realize you didn’t so much marry a smokeshow as a dying ember show.

Ruining Your Sex Life

Empty bed

(Jp Valery/Unsplash)

But you probably won’t feel much like sex anyway. A lack of sleep decimates testosterone levels, leading to less desire for sex, but even if you soldier on, you may not have the ability and/or focus to get the job done on a number of levels.

Getting Lost and Confused

Woman with map

(Jakob Owens/Unsplash)

If you thought navigating the female reproductive system was tricky on no sleep, don’t even try getting to work. Sleep-deprived subjects were slower and made way more mistakes when they tried to navigate virtual environments, so spend all that time doubling back on your commute coming up with a less embarrassing excuse for being late than “I got lost.”

Getting (Dangerously) Happy

On the flip side of the crankiness normally associated with a lack of sleep is the possibility of sleep-deprivation-induced euphoria, a state of extreme giddiness, confidence, and optimism that basically mimics a manic episode. It sounds fun, but people who experience mania will tell you it’s not, mainly due to the increased risk of dangerous or just plain embarrassing behavior.

Taking All Your Money


(Keenan Constance/Unsplash)

Okay, a sleep demon isn’t literally going to show up and rob you, but speaking of dangerous behavior, sleep deprivation can cause you to make riskier gambling choices even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms of mental illness. It seems to cause an overall uptick in reward-seeking behavior, and who could blame you, after the night you had?

Making You Paranoid

Man looking through peephole

(Mario Heller/Unsplash)

But try not to worry about that too much, because it might mean sleep deprivation is wrecking your brain in an entirely different way. A lack of sleep makes you paranoid, to the point of identifying friendly faces as threatening, and the next thing you know, you’re ranting about how Hillary Clinton is conspiring to derail your snooze train.

Getting the Munchies


(No Revisions/Unsplash)

A bad night’s sleep messes your hormones all up, and low energy already drives you to eat fatty, carby food. Combined with poor impulse control and decision-making ability, sleep-deprived people end up buying more and fattier food the next day, so now you’ve got rapidly deteriorating mental health and grease stains.

Making You Feel Stoned

If all this paranoia and Cheetos kind of sounds like a lack of sleep is making you stoned, well, it basically is. Sleep deprivation leads to an increase in endocannabinoids zooming around the brain, which is a way cheaper alternative to your local dispensary. Unfortunately…

You’ll Think You’re Fine

Man in car

(Omotayo Tajudeen/Unsplash)

Despite all those awesome neurotransmitters going into overdrive, you may not actually feel stoned, because we all know that guy who insists he’s fine to drive even though he spent the afternoon polishing off a joint the size of Snoop Dogg. Your sleep-deprived brain is that guy. People whose reaction times tank due to a lack of sleep tend to think they haven’t changed at all, which can be a disaster when they, say, get behind the wheel. So do everyone a favor and keep your drooling, shambling carcass at home until your next bedtime, where you can only ruin your own life.

Top image: Sander Sammy/Unsplash

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