How Does Lack of Sleep Affect you?

A two week experiment trying to understand the effects of lack of sleep.

Adam Skali
Oct 3, 2019 · 3 min read
Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

Since I was a child I was always told to sleep at least 8 hours because it’s good for me. While at first I did try to follow it, I was one of those good kids, as time went on and puberty hit I completely threw away the notion of sleeping 8h. My nights averaged on around 5h of bad sleep even with so few hours of sleep I somehow still managed to wake up in the middle of it.

At the time you feel fine, I mean you can kind of go about your day in the usual way and you don’t notice the difference, so you start thinking that you can do with 6h or less, but the truth is that we can’t.

After reading Mathew Walker’s book on the effects of lack of sleep I was scared shitless and started trying to sleep more and I kind of got used to 8h a day, but as a researcher at heart and procrastinator by craft I decided to go for a little experiment. For two weeks where I slept less than 3h, and I can tell you that the difference is huge.

The First Week

You feel like you can’t control your mind you are constantly bombarded by thoughts and whenever you try to focus on any one of them you can at most go for 5 minutes before you lose track of what you started with.

Starting from the second day onwards, your willpower goes down the drain, you might want to start something but the moment it gets even slightly hard you will feel an impending desire to stop it and go do anything else that doesn’t imply thinking.

Your head feels heavy, and you get way more impulsive as well as irritable, which is a pain in the ass for everybody you know.

A grumpy you is usually pretty bad company.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

The Second Week

The worst part is what happens starting the second week. You get used to this state and as you continue in it for long enough, you start thinking that you are fine.

By the second week you feel normal, like that is your usual state, you are a little more grumpy and impulsive, but you start thinking that its normal, you can’t even notice the abnormality in your cognitive abilities.

You feel quite okay like you am the same as always, but the tracking shows that I have hit rock bottom with my productivity. You think you can manage what you had to do, and you do get stuff done, but the time logs show that the time you waste is huge.


Lack of sleep is worse than you could think, more than anything because you lose yourself and you don’t even notice it, you settle with mediocrity while believing that is your best, heck, you might also start thinking that writing an article about lack of sleep is a good idea.

Photo by Anna Dziubinska on Unsplash

The current culture induces sleeping less in order to get more work done, when you are a teenager you think that staying late is cool and that you aren’t losing anything by doing it.

But you are actually doing harming your present and destroying your future.

You are affecting the way you interact with the world and your reality and you are making them shittier, while at the same time you are increasing the chances of Alzheimer’s disease (if you want to value sleep, read Mathew Walker’s book, it will give you a scare).

For more articles about how our mind works and human behaviour go to TheTowerOfScience. If you liked this post and want more subscribe to our newsletter.

Adam Skali

Written by

Self-development I ScienceStorytelling I CareerDevelopment | |

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade