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Insomnia vs Sleep Deprivation: Get the Facts

Often confused with one another, the terms Insomnia and sleep deprivation are often used interchangeably. While both results in a lack of sleep, which can have a variety of side effects or negative health problems, knowing the difference between the two can help us better understand some of the things that can be done to put us back on track to getting nights of good quality sleep again. This article by the Core Collective and curated by Tropika Club breaks down the differences between insomnia and sleep deprivation and how you can treat both issues.


Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can refer to the shortening or complete loss of sleep due to voluntarily imposed restrictions on your opportunity to sleep – for example, staying up all night to study for an exam or working a night shift. It can also refer to ongoing sleep loss, whether it be voluntary or otherwise. Depending on age, the recommended number of hours of sleep that a healthy human should be having every night will vary from person to person. See the chart below and find out if you’re getting enough sleep!

One becomes sleep deprived if they continue to sleep less than the recommended number of hours for a long period of time. Collectively, this lost sleep is known as ‘sleep debt’ and the more of it you incur, the harder it is to fix. Those who are sleep deprived have the power to change their sleeping habits and patterns to improve the amount and quality of sleep you get every night. This, however, isn’t necessarily the case for those dealing with Insomnia.

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The term Insomnia is Latin for “no sleep” and refers to the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep. It’s also used to describe the condition of waking up and not feeling restored or refreshed, despite having had plenty of opportunity to sleep. The leading cause of Insomnia is chronic stress. In response to stressful incidents, the heart starts pounding, breathing quickens and muscles tense. This response, also known as the “fight or flight” response, can be elicited by a number of stressful situations, such as work deadlines, public speaking and even hearing or receiving rude comments. 

Those living fast-paced lives who find it difficult to hit the brakes on stress once in a while, are often put under constant levels of stress. The chronic low-levels of stress keep the body’s fight-or-flight response activated and, in time, this has the ability to affect the body in ways that contribute to health problems, such as Insomnia. Insomnia can be acute (short-term) lasting a few days or weeks. Insomnia can also be chronic (long-term) lasting months or even years, and can be associated with other medical conditions or sleep-related disorders. 

Unlike those suffering from sleep deprivation, individuals with Insomnia are experiencing a sleep disorder (or the symptom of a sleep disorder or other medical condition). This means that they are less voluntarily able to change their sleeping habits and may need to seek some form of therapy – whether that be cognitive behavioural therapy for Insomnia, sleep medications, a combination of both, or other alternative medicines.

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Dr Verena Tan

Dr Verena Tan is an experienced dietitian with more than 15 years of diverse and well-rounded experience spanning clinical nutrition, academia, research and corporate work. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Singapore Institute of Technology.

NovoTHOR Singapore 

NovoTHOR is a simple, efficient and cost-effective treatment for both acute and chronic inflammation where you only need 20 minutes to feel the positive effects. Individuals with the following problems have benefitted from NovoTHOR – insomnia, sleep deprivation, sports recovery, back and neck pain, fatigue, jet lag, contusions, abrasions, sprains, fractures, ligament injuries, post-surgery rehab for increased flexibility and mobility, plantar fasciitis, oral mucositis and TMD pain. Other benefits include reduction in hair loss, and the production of collagen which improves skin elasticity to slow down the aging process.


RealEase is founded by husband and wife, David Thoo and Rowena Choo. Their team of certified Spinal Flow Technique (Spinal Flow) practitioners includes Cwenn Rarnnie Goh.

Spinal Flow is a powerful yet gentle healing modality that facilitates healing via the nervous system and consists of light touches on specific areas of the spine we call access points without manipulation, popping or cracking. Spinal Flow facilitates a full rewiring of the brain and the body relearns what it already knew, to begin with — how to self-heal.

Tropika Club Magazine – Tropika Club Magazine crafts articles on all things Singapore, but with a greater emphasis on local businesses based on our #SupportLocalSG initiative. We check out and feature local businesses of all categories, ranging from your neighbourhood hawker stalls to the aesthetic clinics in town. We also cover local content ranging from beauty, lifestyle, places, eats and what’s on in SIngapore. Our Top 10 rankings include local food and service establishments based in different regions in Singapore.

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