How a AmE native speaker would indicate that they have slept less than usual / needed hours and they had to sleep more, but for some reasons they didn't do that? I have some offers here; could you possibly let me know if they work naturally:

  • I slept less than usual.

  • I have lack of sleep.

  • I have sleep-lack.

The latter two sentences are direct translations and exactly what we say in our language. For me, they all sound grammatically and idiomatically correct, but what makes me fall into doubt is Google Ngram null result.

  • 2
    "I haven't been getting enough sleep lately." I have never used lack in this context.
    – user3169
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 1:19

2 Answers 2


We can say:

I am sleep-deprived. I haven't been getting enough sleep. Lately I've been sleeping far less than usual. I am badly in need of sleep.

Your 2nd and 3rd examples are not idiomatic.

  • TRomano, is it possible e.g. to say: "I'm sleep-deprived for 4 hours."? If not, how shall I indicate the hours one may think they had to sleep and they missed them?
    – A-friend
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 6:23
  • 2
    I have lost four hours (of) sleep. It would not make good sense to say I am sleep-deprived for four hours. Why? Compare "It is electro-plated for four hours". Notice that deprived (or electro-plated) is an adjective formed from the past-participle. Such adjectives refer to a resultative state, whereas for four hours refers to a durational or ongoing state. We must use a perfect tense in order for such predicate adjectives to make sense: "It has been electro-plated for only four hours and already the plating is showing signs of oxidation! We must correct the process!"
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 12:15
I would change your first sentence to "I slept less than I usually do."
I would change your second sentence to "I am seriously lacking sleep"
I wouldn't use the third sentence; I don't think 'sleep-lack' is a real term.
    Or you might change it to 'I am sleep-deprived.' as in TRomano's answer.

I might also use one of the following:

I haven't had enough sleep.
I am short of sleep.
I didn't get enough sleep last night.
I stayed up way too late last night. (possibly followed by what kept me awake)
I couldn't get to sleep last night. (possibly followed by why I couldn't sleep)
I woke up last night and couldn't get back to sleep.
  • Mark, how shall I indicate some missing hours? Which structure is usually used to convey the message of the missing sleep hours? E.g. does the sentence "I slept 5 hours less than usual" sound natural? If yes is the the most common way AmE people used to say such a thing?
    – A-friend
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 6:25
  • 1
    If you are making a single sentence comment about your sleep, specifying the precise amount of time you slept is not common. This is because unless your listener also knows your normal sleeping time, the number of hours you slept last night is not really useful. If you are having a longer conversation about your sleep you may mention the number of hours. If you are just making a general statement about your sleep, you might use the less precise "I got half my normal sleep", " I got a third my normal sleep", or "I had no sleep last night". This gives them useful data about your sleep. Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 5:50
  • 1
    In the case of your example "I got 5 hours less than normal", this tells the listener you got less sleep than you normally do, but if your normal sleep is 18 hours, 5 hours less (13 hours) is not so bad, but if you normally sleep six hours, five less than normal would be really short of sleep (only one hour). Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 5:53
  • Instead of saying "I slept 5 hours less than usual", people (in AmE) usually say "I only slept X hours". Telling people how much less sleep than normal you got is a bit cryptic - it requires them to know what your normal sleep patterns are. If you normally get 13 hours of sleep, and got 5 hours less than that (8), then few people will pity you (or understand your lethargy). However, if you normally sleep for 8 hours and only got 3 hours of sleep, and you tell people that you "only slept for 3 hours", people will relate to and understand why you are feeling lethargic.
    – Dr. Funk
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 14:20

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