Insufficient sleep syndrome

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By Leslie M Swanson PhD

Sleep deprivation, or insufficient sleep syndrome, is a serious sleep problem of epidemic proportions. Outlined in this clinical summary are the causes, consequences, and management of sleep deprivation and ways of recognizing it. In this update, Dr. Swanson of the University of Michigan elaborates on the clinical manifestations of the condition and the negative consequences of insufficient sleep during pregnancy.

Key Points

  • Insufficient sleep syndrome is the most common cause of daytime sleepiness among the general population.
  • This condition is due to insufficient duration of sleep nightly, resulting in daytime sleepiness.
  • Consequences of insufficient sleep syndrome are often under-recognized by the patient and include sleepiness, tiredness, fatigue, and irritability.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to increased risk of automobile and industrial accidents, declining job performance, disrupted sociability, obesity, and diabetes.
  • Treatment consists of extending nocturnal sleep time every day by one to several hours nightly.


In This Article

Historical note and nomenclature
Clinical manifestations
Clinical vignette
Pathogenesis and pathophysiology
Differential diagnosis
Diagnostic workup
Prognosis and complications
References cited