Consequences of Disrupting Biological Rhythms (A2 Psychology Sleep) Essays

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Pages: 5

Critically consider the consequences of disrupting biological rhythms (24)
A rhythm is something that is regularly repeated. All living organisms experience rhythmic changes which tend to coincide with seasonal or daily environmental changes. Most organisms have an internal biological clock called endogenous pacemakers, which are influences by external environmental factors called exogenous zeitgebers, these control periodic changes. The sleep wake cycle is a circadian rhythm that repeats itself every 24 hours. However these can become desynchronised, resulting in a disruption of your biological rhythm. It can be disrupted by many factors, including Jet lag and shift work.
Jetlag occurs when flying east to west or vice versa, it does not
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Jetlag can be reduced. Research has shown that melatonin if taken prior to bedtime in the new time zone can be effective in allowing sufferers of jetlag to get to sleep sooner than their body clock would normally allow. Also research from Fuller has showed that a period of fasting before travel, followed by eating at times relevant to the new time zone can reduce Jetlag as food can act as a way of altering biological rhythms.
Shift work is another factor that can disrupt your biological clock. 20 percent of workers working in industry work in shift work patterns, this can lead to fatigue, sleep disturbance, digestive problems, lack of concentration, memory loss and mood swings. Shift work is often seen to be worse than jetlag as it involves a prolonged conflict between internal clocks and external stimuli. This means that during the day when your metabolism is highest you’re expected to sleep, and during the night when your body temperature is at its lowest you’re expected to work. This can be compounded by firstly if the person reverts to a normal sleep wake cycle at the weekend or if shifts alter every few days as this can mean your bio rhythms are in a permanent state of desynchronisation. This can lead to reduced productivity and employee moral. This has caused extreme consequences, for example the Chernobyl disaster occurred in the early hours and was attributed to tiredness.
Czeisler et al found that rotating shifts clockwise instead