Sleep deprivation

Discuss the implications of findings from studies of partial and total sleep deprivation. Sleep is needed to restore psychological functions. The case study of Peter Tripp supports this. Tripp, a New York DJ stayed awake for 200 hours. During this time he experienced hallucinations and profound delusions. In order for him to stay awake, it was ensured that another person was with him at all times to make sure he did not sleep. Over the period of 200 hours, Tripp developed a case of paranoid psychosis in which he believed that everybody was trying to poison him.

Towards the end of the 200 hours, Tripp experienced REM sleep whilst apparently awake. This suggests that sleep is needed in order to remain psychologically healthy. Sleep helps us remain sane and active. It also plays an important part in maintaining homeostatic functioning. However, one problem with this study is the fact that it is a case study. This means that the results of this particular study cannot be generalised to everybody else. This is problematic as it is not representative of everybody. REM sleep is essential. Dement (1960) conducted a study to support this. He used 8 participants over several nights.

They were attached to an EEG which allowed Dement to wake up one group when they entered REM. The REM deprived group of participants became agitated, anxious and unable to concentrate, and after several nights entered REM on falling asleep. The amount of times they had to be woken per night rose from 12 to 26 by the seventh night. When they slept normally they showed the rebound effect in which they spent up to 50% longer in REM. This suggests that REM is indeed essential. It is needed in order for a person to remain psychologically alert and lack of REM affects their personality.

The fact that the participants spent longer in REM when allowed to sleep normally shows that REM is needed for a person to function. However, evidence against this study is that sufferers from the condition ‘fibrositis’ experience disruption to their SWS sleep. They wake up in the morning feeling just as tired as when they went to bed. This goes against Dement as it shows that even though the sufferers were getting a normal amount of REM, they still were just as tired. This suggests that SWS could be just as important as REM. REM sleep must be recovered if we are deprived of it.

The case study of Randy Gardener supports this. Gardener, 17, managed to stay awake and alert for around 264 hours. It was found that although Gardener had blurred vision and incoherent speech in addition to a mild degree of paranoia, he did not suffer from psychosis, which is a complete breakdown of mental functioning. He slept for 14 hours afterwards and reported no negative effects from his deprivation. Gardener never recovered more that 25% of the sleep that he had lost, yet he did however recover almost 70% of stage 4 sleep and 50% of REM sleep.

The fact that he suffered from incoherent speech and mild paranoia suggests that a person cannot function adequately without sleep. Another assumption that can be made is that not all stages of sleep are important. Gardener recovering more stage 4 and REM sleep suggests that these two stages are the most important to a human. This case study is not without its problems, though. Because this is a case study, it is restricted. This means that there are issues with individual differences. What is the case for one person may not be the case for another; therefore the findings from Gardener’s sleep deprivation may not be the same as other persons.

This makes it unrepresentative data therefore impossible to generalise to the public. Sleep is needed to stay alive. Jouvet conducted a study into total sleep deprivation involving cats. He placed the cats onto upturned flowerpots which were surrounded by water so that there was no possibility of the animals escaping. The cat would eventually fall asleep and would pass into REM. The muscle tone loss experienced during REM caused the cats to slip off the flowerpot and they soon learned to awake whenever its head began to nod. Over a period of time, the animals became deprived of sleep in general, but REM in particular.

The cats experienced abnormal behaviour and eventually death. This shows that sleep is needed to stay alive and to keep psychological health. The abnormal behaviour shown by the cats suggest that the lack of sleep was causing them to psychologically malfunction, and it seems eventually led them to their deaths. One problem with this study is that it suffers from extrapolation. This means that the study involved only animals as the participants, therefore the findings from the study cannot be generalised to humans as animals and humans are completely dissimilar.

Write an essay discussing the issue, the impact it has on adolescents and the wider society and give your opinion regarding the topic. Sleep deprivation in teenagers is an increasingly significant concern of adolescent health with multiple studies identifying them as …

One theory of the nature of why we sleep is that it is essential for health reasons, and sleep deprivation can seriously endanger our lives. Jouvet deprived cats from sleep (by placing them on a water lily above water; when …

Describe and evaluate one theory of the function of sleep (24 marks) Recovery/ Restoration is one theory on the functions of sleep. This theory is based on the concept that sleep is needed to save energy and to allow restoration of …

Restorative theories known as homeostatic theories are the most intuitive ones as they suggest that the function of sleep is rest and recuperation in order to restore the body to full working capacity (Horne) During SWS, particularly stage 3 & …

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