Does Lack of Sleep Cause Speech Problems?

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If you’re like the rest of us, you probably find yourself pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline. That’s just something many of us have done in the quest to be successful. Then, there are others who just can’t seem to fall and stay asleep due to several possible reasons.

Like us, you probably also know that losing sleep can affect a person’s overall physical health. Some would even say they have difficulty communicating after a night of no sleep.

This leads many to ask, does lack of sleep cause speech problems? Let’s dive deep into the negative side of sleep deprivation and how it affects your communication skills.

Negative Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Ever since we were little, we’ve always been told that lack of sleep is bad for our health. However, only a handful of people have actually told us how bad it is. To refresh your memory, here are some of the most dangerous ways that sleep deprivation affects us:

Mood Swings

Let’s begin with the most common. Sleep deprivation can cause changes in our mood. When we don’t have enough sleep, we tend to be more emotional and agitated, to say the least. If this continues, we are at a heightened risk of developing depression and anxiety, which can lead to other mental health conditions.

Weight Gain

Those who are trying to lose weight should know that lack of sleep may render our efforts futile. There are chemicals in our brains that tell us when we already feel full. When we don’t get enough sleep, these chemicals do not function properly. Because of this, we tend to continue eating even when we’ve already had more than enough to eat.

Heightened Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes

Sleep deprivation causes our blood pressure to increase, which could then lead to inflammation. These are factors that heighten the risk of heart disease. Additionally, lack of sleep also affects our body’s generation of insulin. As a result, our blood sugar levels rise and can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Memory Issues

It is important for our brains to rest because it’s the time that our brains form neural connections for processing and remembering information. Sleep deprivation prevents our brains from doing so, which affects our long-term and short-term memory.

Impaired Cognitive Functioning

Lastly, sleep deprivation causes impaired cognitive functioning. This means that our overall ability to function mentally is not in its best condition. Somehow, all of this can impact not just our problem-solving skills but also our ability to communicate. We’ll discuss that further below.

does lack of sleep cause speech problems in kids

Does Lack of Sleep Cause Speech Problems?

Let’s talk about how sleep deprivation affects our brains. Not getting enough sleep can detrimentally affect the frontal lobe of our brains. This part is particularly responsible for our communication skills or the ability to talk comprehensively.

Children who have speech problems, such as stuttering, will find that lack of sleep can worsen their condition. While better sleep hygiene may not treat the root of the problem, it’s important to note that sleep deprivation still affects our mental health negatively, not just people with speech problems.

For instance, lack of sleep can cause mental problems like anxiety. In turn, this leads to a significant decline in a person’s confidence. Because of this, people who are sleep-deprived may find themselves stuttering or suffering from certain speech problems.

Additionally, because the effects of sleep deprivation are very significant, a person’s cognitive functioning may also decline. This does not just pertain to a specific part of the brain but the brain’s function as a whole. Therefore, sleep deprivation can impair a person’s speech fluency.

Even if we don’t talk about the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain, there’s still the risk of increased muscle tension due to lack of sleep. This means that vital body parts involved in speech, such as the vocal cords, tongue, and lips, will also suffer from sleep deprivation, leading to speech problems.

In fact, sleep deprivation may cause the same side effects induced by alcohol. Aside from slowed reflexes, you may also experience difficulty comprehending sentences and slurred speech.

One of the main reasons for this is the brain’s reduced capability to properly form neural connections. This means you might have some trouble finding the right words to say, or you may have difficulty understanding the meaning of a certain word. These are all concerned with the brain’s information retrieval system.

Does Sleep Hygiene Improve Speech?

Let’s now move forward with another essential question. If lack of sleep can cause speech problems, does it mean that better sleep hygiene improves the condition? To determine the answer to this question, we need to understand how memory works.

How Memory Works

When we sleep, we do not just rest our body’s muscles but also our brains. This part of the body, as we all know, is primarily responsible for our memories. Now, everything we say and do is part of our memories and cognitive functioning, but how exactly does that work?

Here are the three major parts of how we remember and use something we’ve learned:


The first step of using something from our memory is called encoding. This means that the information we’ve just received is then translated into a mental representation we can store in our brains.


Obviously, not everything we listen to or hear is encoded into our memories. Our brains filter out irrelevant information and strengthen or stabilize those that are deemed essential. These pieces of information are then consolidated or stored in our neocortex.


After encoding and consolidating the information, we now have what you call storage of memories and pieces of knowledge. These data are then retrieved whenever we need them, so long as the brain is able to form proper neural pathways for their retrieval.

How Sleep Affects This Process

Enough sleep, or lack thereof, plays a crucial role in any of these three phases of memory, but most importantly in the consolidation stage. When we get enough sleep, we avoid overloading our brains with too much information that could otherwise be counterproductive in their memory-forming process.

Therefore, we can conclude that adequate sleep promotes memory health, and improved memory health help retrieve data from our brains faster. Because of this, we are able to quickly find the words we want to say, leading to improved speech.

Additionally, it’s important to note that sleep disturbance or chronic sleep deprivation usually co-occurs with a number of speech development disorders. Some of these include Development Language Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, and Neurogenic Disorders.

While more studies are needed to completely determine the link between these disorders, sleep disturbance, language disorders, and language differences, it does not negate the fact that sleep deprivation interferes with a person’s learning ability.


So, does lack of sleep cause speech problems? What we can say is that it leads to a number of different effects, which then develop into bigger problems, one of which is a speech impediment.

Sleep deprivation also increases your risk of developing various life-threatening diseases. Therefore, if you want to improve your speech and keep your entire mind and body healthy, we suggest that you practice good sleep hygiene.