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Does Sleep Deprivation Make You Drunk?

Author: Gud Sleepz Team

Does Sleep Deprivation Make You Drunk?

Does Sleep Deprivation Make You Drunk?

“Balance is not something you find, it is something you create” - Jana Kingsford

Do you realise sometimes when you’ve been awake for a long time and your ability to think clearly kind of vanishes? You feel extremely drowsy, irritated and unable to focus! It’s a very interesting phenomenon of being cognitively impaired and almost drunk when you’ve just been sleep deprived. It isn’t a folktale but a fact. Let me explain it to you. Research have shown that, people who have been awake for more than 19 hours show similar behavioral pattern like someone with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.05%. This has been time and again studied with different groups of people especially nurses and other healthcare professionals. 

And even worse is, sleep deprivation is not just a one-day effect. People who have been sleeping 6 hours a night for 10 days are equivalent to someone who has been up for 17 hours. And for people who have been sleeping for 4 hours a night for 10 days consequently are equivalent to someone who has been up for 24 hours. This poses a risk especially for people driving or in a high risk jobs where they need to be able to make decisions and be focused on the task at hand. Because at BAC levels of 0.05% is not recommended for driving. Isn’t this something to think about?

Let’s understand why this happens to us when we’ve been chronically sleep deprived. This is because humans are evolved to create and build pressure throughout the day and eventually they increase the drive for sleep at night. This is a natural process and you are mostly lead by the circadian rhythm and homestatic process. But when you deprive yourself of this need despite the sleep pressure, you would most likely lose control after a certain period and your brain makes an involuntary decision to ignite the ‘sleep switch’. We may believe that, we are in control of our sleep but to be honest, you are definitely not. You would just become slave to your mind’s lousy state if you don’t allow the natural progression of homeostasis to occur. 

Another major drawback of being sleep deprived is that, it impedes your ability to make decisions and solve problems. This becomes a necessary skill for most people due to their demanding nature of their jobs. You cannot afford to make mistakes or risk making a wrong decision. And sleep deficit works in such a way that, it accumulates overtime to show the impeding effects. Someone who has been sleeping for less than 5 hours would have poorer judgment, slow reaction time and eventually the cognitive performance would be compromised. 

And finally, you are just messing with your working system of your brain and body. We’ve all created modern problems, those that we pay using our health. We have come to a stage that normal processes becomes difficult and tedious for which we are forced to seek help. This is because we all have a circadian balanace and our body works in such a way hoping you would give the rest that it deserves at night. But exerting always lead to compromises and by that time when you intend to change, you would realise that it’s too late. 

Take Home Message!

  • * You wouldn’t go to work or for an important meeting drunk right? In the same way, you wouldn’t want to put yourself in that state. So, get enough sleep at night. Atleast a 7 to 8 hours. 

  • * You want to excel at work, college or exams, remember your cognition would be compromised if your burn the lamp all night. Sleep to excel!

  • * The more you deprive now, you are just collecting debt and compensating sleep deprivation isn’t easy. One day’s debt could be paid only in 4 days and the more you deprive yourself, more debt you collect. 

  • * And finally, remember if you’ve been sleep deprived for whatever reason, avoid working in risky conditions where you need to be fully present. Also, avoid driving. 

Hoping this information was helpful. For more information, subscribe to our blog and our youtube channel. You can also follow us on instagram. 

 Happy Sleeping! 


Please Book a Session with sleep coach to know more about your sleep.


Czeisler, C. A., & Fryer, B. (2006). Sleep deficit: The performance killer. Harvard Business Review, 84(10), 53-9.

James, L., Caruso, C. C., & James, S. (2022). Pilot Test of “NIOSH Training for Law Enforcement on Shift Work and Long Work Hours”. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 64(7), 599-606.

Williamson, A. M., & Feyer, A. M. (2000). Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occupational and environmental medicine, 57(10), 649-655.

Tags: drunk , sleep

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