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Psychology Assignment on Sleep-Related Disorders Readings #1 and #2

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Psychology Assignment on Sleep-Related Disorders Readings #1 and #2

Sleep-Related Disorders Readings #1 and #2

Sleep is critically necessary for both our mental and physical health. Unfortunately, a large number of Americans do not get adequate rest each night. The average adult needs about 8 hours of rest each night to awake feeling refreshed and ready to go for the next day.

Before we discuss the disorders let’s have a quick review of the sleep stages.

Sleep—Research on sleep began with the advent of the Electroencephalograph (EEG) which measures the brains electrical activity. This device showed researchers that the brain manifests distinct patterns of electrical activity throughout the course of the night. Based on this research 4 stages of sleep were discovered, each with its own specific pattern of electrical activity. The stages were aptly named: Stages 1,2,3, and 4. An additional stage (REM sleep—Rapid Eye Movement) was also discovered. Stage 1 sleep is the lightest stage of sleep in which is it easy to be awakened. After Stage 1 we pass through Stages 2-4. Each stage is a deeper state of sleep—it is very difficult to wake someone who is in Stage 4 sleep! It is important to note that Stages 1-4 are termed Non-REM sleep (NREM), to distinguish them from REM sleep. Also, stages 3 and 4 are referred to as slow-wave sleep.

After completing Stage 4 we cycle back to 3,2 and then enter REM sleep—dreaming sleep. During this time one’s eyes move back and forth beneath the eyelids. Yikes! REM sleep has an alternative name—“Paradoxical Sleep.” What is a paradox you may ask? A paradox is not two doctors!—sorry for the lame joke!!! What it really means is that we have two things that don’t naturally go together. We have a very active brain (as noted on an EEG recording) and a paralyzed body. One cannot move during REM sleep. So, the paradox lies in the fact that the brain naturally controls the body—but now it does not. An active brain should produce an active body, but we are shut down—and that is probably for the best! Think about it!


Insomnia (Insomnia Disorder)-This involves having a problem with either falling or staying asleep. Recent research suggests that the blue light from our phones and tablets can cause insomnia—so put the phone down a few hours before bed!!!

Now, there are different forms of insomnia. Almost everyone has had the experience of not being able to fall asleep. This is frustrating, creates anxiety, which then further interferes with falling asleep. Now sometimes we can fall asleep but seemingly wake up every hour. This results in a lack of restful sleep. There is also what is known as terminal or termination insomnia in which an individual awakens several hours too early. Although they wish to go back to sleep they cannot do so. This is frustrating and also results in a lack of adequate rest. This form of insomnia may be due to stress and is also known to be caused by alcohol consumption (the alcohol disrupts normal movement through the sleep stages).

Here is the link to a brief sleep test you can take to assess your sleep quality.

Hypersomnolence Disorder-This disorder involves sleeping too much. It is characterized by daytime drowsiness and sleeping during the day. This impacts one’s daily functioning. Here is a good article:

Parasomnias-These disorders occur in either REM or NREM sleep.

Somnambulism—(NREM)—Sleepwalking—this can be very dangerous!!

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder-In this disorder an individual will act out aggressive actions while in a dream state (e.g., punching/kicking). The interesting issue here is that it occurs during REM sleep when the body is not supposed to be capable of moving. The aggressive actions can be dangerous for oneself or one’s bed partner (see reading for full details!!).

Here is an excellent brief video on this disorder:

Restless Leg Syndrome-This involves crawling sensations in the legs when trying to fall asleep. Can be treated medically.

Night Terrors (NREM)—This is usually seen in children—they will run about the house screaming in tremendous fear—this is a really bad dream. There is no recollection of the event in the morning. Most kids grow out of them. Notice, that this occurs during NREM sleep. They are mobile!

Nightmare Disorder (REM sleep). A nightmare is an intense, highly emotional dream. No fun!! They are typically infrequent. However, some individuals experience them on a frequent basis. As you might guess, individuals with this disorder might start to fear to go to bed for fear of having such a terrible dream.

Here is a brief article highlighting this disorder:

Other Sleep Problems

Sleep Apnea—Involves the cessation of breathing during sleep—treated with CPAP Device (see reading). Also known as obstructive sleep apnea.

Narcolepsy—This involves sudden episodes of daytime sleep in which a person immediately enters a REM state. A condition called cataplexy may also occur in which there is a loss of muscle tone in one’s body causing the individual to collapse. Those with cataplexy remain conscious during this state. Strong stimulant drugs are often prescribed to those afflicted with narcolepsy to help them stay awake.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders involve the motivation to eat. Obviously, motivation is affected in quite a negative way. Let’s differentiate between Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.

Anorexia Nervosa: Those with this illness are preoccupied with their body weight and literally engage in self-starvation. They refuse to eat or they eat very little, counting every calorie and engaging in an excessive exercise in order to burn off any calories that may have been ingested. Those with this disorder also experience what is known as a “distorted sense of body image” in which they literally perceive fat where it does not exist. This misperception fuels their drive to continue trying to lose weight. Severe emaciation and significant health complications may result, and in some cases death.

Here is the link to an excellent overview article:

Bulimia Nervosa: Those with this illness engage in a binge-purge cycle of behavior. Specifically, they eat an excessive amount of food in one sitting (binge) and then expel the food immediately afterward, usually by vomiting or the use of laxatives (purge). Binges are typically triggered by a stressful life event (e.g., getting a bad grade on a test). There are health complications associated with this illness as well (e.g., repeated vomiting may wear down the enamel of one’s teeth). Here is the link to an excellent overview article:




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