Psychology A - Sleep

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There are several theories behind why we sleep
Creatures which stayed still and quiet during night times had an upper hand over other creatures which were active. Due to this, they avoided accidents, being killed by other creatures. This activity somehow evolved into sleep.

One of the most obvious reasons why creatures sleep is to conserve energy, especially at night times where it is hard to find food or times when it doesn’t benefit then from being awake. According to research, energy metabolism is tremendously reduced during sleep. Caloric demand and body temperature is reduced during sleep compared to when you are awake. Such benefits help greatly in their survival.
Another great benefit of sleep is that it somehow restores the things we lost when we were awake. Many of the major restorative functions in the body like tissue repair, muscle growth, protein synthesis and growth hormone release occur mostly during sleep. Some experiments show that animals deprived from sleep die within a week due to lose of all immune functions.

We all know through experience what happens when we pull an all-nighter. We can sense that our muscles don’t necessarily need sleep but our brain does. Our brain which controls our actions and thoughts needs sleep to function properly. For instance, when we are awake, brain produces adenosine, which is a by-product of the cells activities. This adenosine is the reason why we feel tired. This feeling can be countered by caffeine (which blocks the adenosine in the brain and thus keeping us alert. The longer you stay up, the more adenosine builds up) or by sleeping (adenosine is cleared from the system while we are asleep) therefore we feel alert when we wake up.

Another reason why we sleep is to develop the brain. While we are asleep, human brain somehow organises it self by filling important memories and removing unwanted information, making short term memories into long term and etc. Sleep plays an important role in brain development especially for kids. Kids spend around 12 to 14 hours per day sleeping and about half of that is spent in REM sleep (Random Eye Movement) the stage where most dreams occur.

In an experiment 40 people were allowed only 26 minutes sleep per night. They were tested in cognitive skills, which showed their working memory deteriorated by 38% over four days. Without REM sleep, they had harder time completing problems involving memory and maths.
In other experiments, lack of sleeps has a result on your skills to perform for example driving.
Experiments show that a person who is in lack of sleep performs similar to a person who is under the influence of alcohol.

Another reason we sleep is to Dream, which occurs during the REM stage of the sleep (the dreams which you usually remember) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stage.

There are different theories about why we dream, most dreams make sense but some don’t.
If your dreams involve being chased, fighting an enemy, end up naked in public, or sinking in a quicksand. Those dreams are in order to rehearse behaviours of self-defence and other situations. So we get better at it in the real world.

Imagine remembering every detail in your life, which would clog your brains. Dreams sorts out memories, decides which ones to keep and which ones to discard, turning short-term memories into long-term.

We also dream to solve or figure out problems, writing this from self experience. I remember having trouble trying to clear an area in a video game. After a million tries I finally gave up. That night I dreamt about the game and I got couple of ideas from it. Next day I try to do exactly what I pictured in my dream and amazingly it worked out!

Last but not least, Freud believed that dreams exist to fulfil our fantasies. It can be about being able to fly, wanting to have sex with someone or even hurt someone. Certain dreams tend not be that clear cause you might be ashamed of your desires. For instance “steep inclines, ladders and stairs, and going up or down them, are symbolic representations of the sexual act…”

Stress is something which is triggered when you’re facing certain situations in life.
There are good (eustress) and bad stress (distress).

Stress is actually something you need in times of tough situation. Like when you are trying to protect someone who is in danger, when you have to score which could win the game or when you have to perform for a live audience.
Under these circumstances the body activates certain hormones. Adrenaline and cortisol are released into the bloodstream. These hormones speed up heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism and breathing rate. Blood vessels open wider to let more blood flow to large muscle groups, making them alert. Pupils dilate to improve vision. The liver releases glucose to increase the body’s energy. And we sweat to cool the body. These physical changes help the body to be in a heightened state of readiness, preparing you to react.

If these “physical changes” happen too often or for a longer period, it can wear out the body and weaken your immune system.
Times when you have to deal with a divorce, loosing your loved one, constant stress at work or being bullied constantly can lead to bad stress.
Symptoms of bad stress are depression, diabetes, hair loss, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, obesity, anxiety disorder, sexual dysfunction, tooth and gum disease, ulcers and possibly cancer.

Men and women handle stress differently. Under stress, men usually keep it to them self, women would prefer talking about it to others or crying it out. Women “tend and befriend” taking care of their kids and drawing support from friend and family. Men “fight or flight” dealing with the situation or escaping it.

Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression or bipolar affective disorder is a condition that causes random shifts in mood, activity levels and energy.
Depressive symptoms; sadness, depression, anxiety, loss of energy, loss of interest in activities once they used to enjoy, crying, thoughts and attempts of suicide, changes in sleep and eating pattern.

Manic symptoms; decreased need for rest and sleep, creativity, increased sex drive, increased energy level, denial, lack in judgment, overly happy, outgoing, extremely irritable, taking part in high risk behaviours like spending spree and aggressive behaviours.

Doctors are not sure what causes bipolar disorder. One of the theories is that chemicals in the brain shits back and forth. When certain chemicals become too high, the patient develops mania and when it drops too low, the patient develops depression symptoms.

Bipolar disorder can be treated by using medications like mood stabilizers (Valproate and Carbamazepine) and antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil).
Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioural, talk therapy, social rhythm therapy and interpersonal therapy.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Has a 75% chance of being effective. This is used if none of the above works.

Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) is a condition where a person mistrusts and suspects everyone around him/her. People with PPD can not control their attitude and behaviour towards others and due to it, they get isolated from their partners, families and friends.

Symptoms of PPD are, they doubt the loyalty and trustworthiness of others, questioning hidden motives in others, they hold long grudges, jealous, suspicious, are very sensitive, stubborn, hostile, argumentative etc.

The cause for PPD is not specific. It can be from a bad childhood experience that somehow cultivated child insecurities. It is also common in appearing in families with one or more members who suffer from schizophrenia.

PPD is hard to be treated because the ones with it don’t see themselves as having problem. But when they do realize it, psychotherapy is the usual choice. Their skills regarding social interaction, communication and self esteem will be focused.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness which effect feeling, thinking and behaviour.
People with schizophrenia vary in symptoms and they can develop over months or years or they may even appear unexpectedly. Schizophrenia may appear on people who are around 15 to 35.
People with schizophrenia have a chemical imbalance in their brain. They can produce too much of a chemical called dopamine which allows the nerve cells in the brain to send messages to each other. When this chemical is imbalanced, the individual will be overwhelmed by sensory information, like loud music and bright lights (which normal people can easily handle). This problem in processing different sounds, sights, smells and tastes can also lead to hallucinations or delusions.
It’s Symptoms; Hallucinations like imaginary voices which don’t exist, talks to them or even command him/her to do things. They have delusions for e.g., individual may believe that he/she is a god or that they are never alone, or aliens are spying on h...

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