Psychology Essays On Sleep

Psychology

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Ron Gerrard, HWS Psychology Department
     My paper is based on an article from the text’s web site (chapter 9) entitled “Lack of sleep ages body’s systems.” The basic claim of the article is that sleep deprivation has various harmful effects on the body. The reported effects include decreased ability to metabolize glucose (similar to what occurs in diabetes) and increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone involved in memory and regulation of blood sugar levels). The article also briefly alludes (in the quote at the bottom of page 1) to unspecified changes in brain and immune functioning with sleep deprivation.
     Intuitively, these results make a lot of sense to me. I know that when I’m sleep deprived for any significant amount of time, I begin to feel physically miserable. I also seem to be more vulnerable to colds and other physical ailments. In thinking about it though, most of the times I’m sleep deprived are also periods of psychological stress (such as finals week). To the extent that there are changes in my physical well-being, I’m wondering whether they are due to the sleep deprivation, the stress itself, or some combination of the two.
     In principle, a careful experiment should be able to isolate the effects of sleep deprivation by depriving people of sleep in the absence of stress and other such confounding variables. That seems to be what this experiment does, but as I read the article closely, I found myself unsure that the effects it reports are necessarily due to sleep deprivation per se.
     I realize that a brief summary article like this does not provide all the details of the experimental methodology, but a couple of things that were reported in the article struck me as curious. The researchers studied physical functioning (cortisol levels, etc.) in men who had a normal night’s sleep (eight hours in bed) the first three nights of the study, followed by a period of sleep deprivation (four hours in bed) the next six nights of the study, and finally a period of sleep recovery (12 hours in bed) the last seven nights of the study. In reporting the effects on the body (the discussion of glucose metabolism, in the fifth paragraph of the article) the author’s compare the sleep deprivation stage only to the sleep recovery stage, not to normal sleep. This seems to me like doing an experiment on drunkenness and comparing the drunk stage to the hangover stage, without ever reporting what happens when the person is sober.

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Since normal sleep would seem to be the appropriate control condition here, the absence of results from that condition makes me wonder if something unusual was found there and not reported in the article.
     Another potential problem comes from the sequential nature of the different sleep conditions. All participants had normal sleep, then sleep deprivation, then sleep recovery (in that order). Therefore, the three conditions differ not only in the amount of sleep, but also in the level of familiarity with the experimental procedures. Why should that make a difference? Well, consider the results reported for the stress hormone cortisol. In comparing people who are sleep deprived (days 4-9 of the study) with those who are in sleep recovery (days 10-16 of the study), they are comparing people early in the experiment to those later in the experiment. If the experimental procedures are themselves stressful (e.g. drawing a blood sample) then a person who has been through it more often might find it less stressful, and therefore not respond so strongly. This fact, rather than the amount of sleep itself, might explain the pattern of results in the physiological data.
     I’m not sure whether the methodological issues I’ve raised really do account for all the study’s results, but they should be corrected in future research on sleep deprivation. The easiest way to do this, it seems to me, would be to simply compare two different groups of participants, randomly assigned to either a normal sleep condition or a sleep deprivation condition. Each participant would be in his/her respective condition throughout the experiment, so there would not be any difference in general experimental familiarity that could account for differences between the two groups.
     Assuming the results of the experiment can be confirmed, and that sleep deprivation really does have the physiological effects described, there is one other thing I find interesting about the study. This is the possible relationship of the results to aging. The article claims that the physiological changes associated with sleep deprivation are similar to those in the elderly. Since I remember from the textbook that the elderly sleep less than younger adults (who in turn sleep less than children) I’m wondering if some of the physiological changes might in fact be caused by the changes in sleep.
The article only mentions changes in glucose metabolism here as it relates to aging, but I was wondering more about increased cortisol levels. If the elderly sleep less, and less increases sleep elevates cortisol, and increased cortisol impairs memory, then perhaps memory impairments in the elderly are due (at least partly) to changes in sleep habits. This would fit in with the textbook’s idea that sleep (especially REM sleep) may aid us in consolidation of new memories. If so, then perhaps drugs or other therapies could be used to improve sleep in the elderly, thereby improving memory function. That is an exciting possibility, and would be a wonderful and surprising application of this type of research.



Essay/Term paper: Dreaming and sleeping

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Dreams and dreaming are an important part of our lives and cultures of
epopel around the world. They are a reliable source of insight, personal
enrichment, and life affirming revelations. Dreams are the language of a
person's subconscious mind.
Before a person starts to dream, there are certain cylces or stages that
a person goes through in their sleep. Sleeping is important in our lives.
The ancient Geeks beleived that sleep was a grant. Manny people spend about
25 years in sleeping and dreaming.
There are four 90 minute stages of sleep that a person go through in
their sleep. Ot begins with stage 1. This is when breathing is regular,
heart rate slows down, and blood pressure decreases. A perosn could still be
awake during this stage. They are still concious. Slowly the person drifts
to stage 2. During this stage, the person is still realzed and they do not
know what is going on in the outside surroundings. As the perosn falls
deeper into sleep, the person falls into stage 3 and 4. It is harder to wake
soemone up when they reached this stage.
It takes about an hour for a perosn to go through all four stages. Yet,
not everyone goes through all of these stages a nioght. Throughout the
night, stages four and fivere repeated.
REM (rapid eye movement) takes place when a person is at the deepest
level of sleep. In REM, eyes move quicly under the eyelid. Dreaming takes
place at this stage. Dreams occur more often and they are more real at this
stage. These dreams are story like, intense, and passionate.
There are amny ways to look at dreams. The psychoanalytic, biological,
and cognitive views of dreaming are the three wyas theories to look at
dreams. THese theories has not been tested for researchers to find enough
information.
In psychoanalytic view, Freud came up with a theory called the
"wish-fulfilmetn theory." Wish-fulfilemtn throy is "Freud's theory of dream
interpretation that emphasizes the roles of maiffest and latent content of
dreams" (Huffman, Vernoy, and Vernoy, 139). In a psychoanalytic view, they
say that dreams are hidden signs of supresses needs. In a biological
perspective, they beleive that dreams are not importatn- they are stimultaion
of brain cells. In a cognitive view, they beleive dreams is an important
part of information proecssing.
There is no proven fact on why we dream. This is why there are a lot og
theories on dreaming. There is amnu dream theorists that wrote theories on
why epople dream. Fruend was always nchnated by dreams. He belived that all
dreams are meaningful. In Frued's theory, he wrote that dreams carry our
hidden desires. Jung, another perosn who wrtoe about therores on dreaming
wrtoe that dreams carry meaning and that these dreams can be interperted by
the dreamer.
There is many theories about dreams yet, Freud's theory stands out the
most. He beleived that a dream portrays an ongoping wish wioth the previous
days activites. People mioght also deram about wihses that they had as a
child. Freud also beleived that nothing ismade up in a dream. They are
biologically determined and obtained from perosn's needs and personal
ecperiences.
The most iunteresting ideas among his theroy is his theory of dream
occurence. Dream will occur when the unconscious wish is bound to the
preconscious instead of just being removed. If there is too much going
through a person's ,ind-denial, regression, or repression, a dream will take
place.
Jung disagreed wiht Freud's theory and developed his own theory that
contradicted Freud's. Jung beleived the most effective method for a dream
interpretaion wa sthe use of series correlation. Freud did not beleive that
the dreamer could interpret theor own dream. He beleived that only trained
psychologists could interpret dreams.
Jung also categorized the mind into three parts- the collective
unconsciou, the personal unconscious, and the conscious. The collective
unconscious does not depend on personal expereinces. The personal
unconscious hold forgoteen assocation, unnoticed expereinces, repressed and
discarded thoguths and half thoughts. The conscious develops through
sensing, thinking, and intution.
A dream can also be traslated yet it involves sevreal stages. The first
stage involes clear understanding of dream structuvre. In every dream, there
is a dreamer. The dreamer represents consciousness and the psyche. The
person represent their awareness and perspective of life.
The second stage involvoes understanding the influences producing dream
content. Dremas infleunces affecting the person's subliminally. These
inflerunces affecting the person's life and consciouness. A person's dream
is a product of subliminal infleince.
Understanding dream descritpion is the third stage of dream translation.
This stage is the most difficult to understand. Our social and cultural
diffreences affect dreams and how we perceive certain dream images when we
are awake. However, there are two rules of dream translation. The first
rule is that all dream images are representations. Words are not iused, the
subconscious mind has metaphoric images. The second rule is that all dream
images reflect seomthing mental. Dreams occur in mental domain. The objects
and epople in a person's dream are not physical images. They are mental
images.
The final stage invovles the order of the process and teh context of
dream imagery. When a person is trying to remeber their dream they are
remembering series of images. All the images from the entire dream is needed
to traslate the meaning of the dream. Studying the whole dream is more
important to understand then studying only one image of a dream.
Review dreams is condtions and challenges of life and how we view
ourselves. These dreams show how we evolve through our life expereices.
Many people beleive that theoriues on dreaming is pointless. Some beleive
that dreams are meaningless to us and jsut another thing that is part of our
lives. Yet, there are otehr who say dreams are either the clearing of
fragments from our memory that was stored. However, there are other people
who do not beleive it and argue aainst it. These epople say the dreams are
important to live a full and complete life. It is difficult for us to study
dream and how it works while we are sleeping. People can only decide for
themselves and belive what they wa to believe in. Only the dreamer can
determine what is right or wrong. 

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