Sleep is a vital part of life. It is as important as water, food and air, yet it is easily taken for granted. Sleep deprivation, not only affects adults, but children also. When we deprive ourselves of sleep, it can produce unwanted consequences. Lack of sleep affects our behavior, moods and judgment.
Humans and Sleep
When we speak of sleep, we often know of two different theories. One we know of as the Recuperation Theory, and the other is the Circadian Theory. The two theories have their characteristics, but the main difference between the two is, the Circadian Theory is all about when a person sleeps, and the sleep cycles, whereas the Recuperation Theory focuses on how well we sleep, why we sleep, and what makes us sleep.
As we sleep, we go through five stages of sleep. Each stage we go through serves a particular purpose. We do not go through each stage once per sleep session, rather four to six times. Stage one is the transition stage. During this time, we are drifting off. Our body begins to slow down, and the muscles begin to relax. This stage lasts for five to ten minutes. Stage two is considered to be light sleep. While sleeping lightly, your temperature starts to fall a bit, brain activity begins to slow down, along with heart rate and breathing. Stage three we are in a deep sleep. The body rarely moves, and the brain waves are very slow during this period. These waves are called Delta Waves. As we enter into stage four, it is very hard for someone to wake us up. Our eyes and muscles are still. This stage is where bedwetting, sleep walking, and night terrors will happen. Stage five, known as the REM or Dream Stage, is the most active and exciting stage (Obringer, 2005). During this stage, things begin to change. The eyes start moving rapidly, breathing increases becoming shallow and irregular. Often, the muscles, arms and legs are paralyzed for a few minutes at a time. The heart rate and blood pressure increase and it becomes hard to regulate your body temperature. It is during this stage the most vivid dreaming occurs. If you wake up and remember your dreams, it is because you woke up during the REM stage.
There are at least five popular beliefs about dreaming; one being dreams last only a few seconds, but researchers suggest that dreams run on “real time” (Chapter14 pg.359). The fifth common belief is that penile erections occur because the individuals dream is of a sexual nature. Sleepwalking/talking is a common belief that only occurs when an individual is dreaming. Research proves that these activities can happen during any stage of sleep. Some individuals believe they do not dream. According to research, we all dream, but if you wake up in the REM stage of sleep, you will remember the dream.
Short and long term sleep deprivation have many effects on our mood and behaviors. When someone doesn’t get enough sleep, on night one, they are usually irritable and clumsy. The person that is sleep deprived for the second night can either tire easily or speed up. The third night, they will start to have hallucinations and lose grasp of reality. Forgetfulness and disorientation can also be short term effects. Long term effects may include psychiatric and relationship problems, mental impairment, high blood pressure and heart failure.
Many of the disorders we hear about today fall into two categories: Insomnia and Hyper –insomnia. Disorders that cause us problems sleeping would fall under the insomnia category. These disorders would include Shiftwork disorder, Sleep Apnea, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, and Restless Leg Syndrome (Sleep Disorders, 2014). The circadian clock causes Shiftwork Disorder. Sleep patterns get messed up, and