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One of the most pronounced effects on me of transient sleep deprivation is dehydration. The first thing I notice in the morning is dry eyes, which isn’t too surprising considering the difference between having your eyes opened and closed for 8 hours of the day. (It doesn’t help that sometimes when I have trouble sleeping I point a fan at my face.) That’s not the last effect though. A few hours later my throat begins to dry out, then my lips chap and my mouth dries. This only gets worse with time, and after two or three days of low sleep my skin will start to become dry or chapped. And of course, I urinate about twice and often and I always feel thirsty. (Which isn’t to say I don’t always feel thirsty all the time anyway, but I really don’t know why that is.) And to show it’s not all in my head, these effects hang around for a bit after I return to normal sleeping, and I need to moisturize.
Other effects on me are similar to a cold: feverishness, exhaustion, and if I have to do physical activity, a tendency toward dizziness, muscle weakness and stiffness, and other things. I also tend to develop canker sores (which for various reasons I believe are caused by a small infection from the mouth, possibly entering through scratches in the skin) and I have a small not-quite-conspicuous cyst on my arm that, like with a cold, enlarges temporarily.
I’ll also vouch for a number of commonly listed symptoms, from slowed thoughts and speech to “irritability,” except this one for me comes after I start “catching up on sleep.”
What’s strange is as many lists of symptoms of sleep loss as I’ve seen (here, for example) none list dehydration. Google searches tend to ask the opposite question: Does dehydration cause sleep problems? Maybe this is because symptoms of sleep loss listed online and in medical pamphlets are based on chronic insomnia, rather than what I often experience, repeating periods of severe sleep loss for a few days followed by normal or extra-heavy sleep. Nobody else I’ve talked to about it seems to sympathize either, though.