Sleep is a state of unresponsiveness and is also one of the most important functions of an organism. Sleep is spread into four stages known as the nightly dream cycle. Stage one is the beginning of the sleep cycle, is a light stage of sleep. Stage one can be considered a transition period between being awake and asleep. During this stage, the brain creates high amplitude theta waves, this type of wave is very slow. This period of sleep only lasts around 10 minutes. The second stage of sleep lasts about 20 minutes, the brain begins to produce sleep spindles, and K-complexes start to appear. Also in this sleep stage body temperature decreases and heart rate slows. Stage 3 of the sleep cycle is deep sleep, slow brain waves known as delta waves appear. During this stage, people become less responsive to noises and activity in the environment. It’s a period of transition between light and deep sleep. The last stage of sleep is REM sleep (Rapid eye movement) this is where dreaming mostly occurs. REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep because while the brain and other body parts become more active the muscles are relaxed. Dreaming starts to occur due to increased brain activity. Many individuals encounter sleep deprivation, which happens when one receives little to no sleep. Sleep deprivation can have many different causes, such as depression, stress and sleep disorders such as insomnia. When a person is sleep deprived the nightly cycle is disrupted.
Prior to the research, I had experienced sleep deprivation on an occasional basis, some night receiving less than 6 hours of sleep. This encounter with sleep deprivation has caused me to come to a general understanding of how being deprived of sleep affects the mind and body throughout the day. I realized that without sleep simple tasks became harder and in general felt weaker than usual. After researching sleep deprivation and learning about how it can affect the body and mind it showed me how it impairs a person’s ability to focus and learn efficiently.
There have been experiments conducted on both humans and animals in order to view the effects of sleep deprivation on the mental health. When performing the experiment is there is usually a control group that is not subjected to sleep deprivation and there is an experimental group that is. Throughout the experiments, the experimental group is examined for mental health issues. These issues vary from depression or anxiety to hallucination and speech problems. Also, some of the experiments conducted used EEGs in order to record the subjects brain wave patterns.
It is important for people to know the significance of not receiving enough sleep, because your body needs sleep, just as it needs food and air to function at its best. When a person is sleeping the body heals itself and restores chemical balance. Sleep deprivation affects your mental and emotional state negatively. A person could be prone to mood swings or more impatient and also it compromises decision abilities. As this continues you could be at risk of hallucination and depression. The central nervous system is the highway of information for your body. This is why sleep is necessary for it to keep functioning properly, and when you’re not getting enough sleep it can disrupt how the body sends information. While a person is sleeping their immune, and digestive system is working plus many more, but when sleep is taken out of the equation it causes the different systems to be interrupted. The immune system protects the body from foreign invaders using cytokines, but when sleep deprived the body has trouble fending off bacteria and viruses. The digestive system tells the brain when you’ve had enough
food, but without sleep, the ghrelin is raised which is an appetite stimulant. This causes people to overeat and also contributes to weight gain.
There have been many studies taken on how sleep deprivation can affect the mental health of a person, and how these negative effects can ruin a person’s daily life. A study in 2001 showed that sleep deprivation had a link to fatal diseases, such as psychosis and bipolar disease, as well as heart disease. The link between psychosis and sleep deprivation was then further studied in 2007 at Harvard Medical School. This time through MRI scans it revealed, that sleep deprivation causes the brain to become incapable of taking an emotional event and giving a suitable response. Another study that was taken in 2000 shows 17 men in their mid-twenties progressively increasing the amount of sleep they lost. It started out at 24 hours then went to 48 and finally ended at 72 hours of sleep loss. As each step was taken measurements of alertness, mood, and cognitive performance was collected. After the conducting the experiments the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance and alertness, showed decreases in brain activity and function, primarily in the thalamus. Based on these studies, it seems clear that there is a correlation between sleep deprivation and negative effects on the mental health.
When conducting a sleep deprivation experiment it can run into few problems one of the main ones is to induce the lack of sleep. This problem is easier for human, but for animal subjects, it can be much more difficult. For example, the rat to keep the rat awake for the experiment it could be subjected to external stimulation, such as tapping, noises, or shaking of the cage. This can be a problem because the rat could have increased stress levels due to the shaking causing the experiment to include stress and sleep deprivation, which changes the experiment. In an attempt to stop this scientist Rechtschaffen introduced the “disk-over-water” apparatus. Which is designed by which the floor of the cage is replaced with a rotating disk suspended over a tank of water.
Since sleep deprivation is an ongoing issue that is widespread, there is a multitude of different applications to solve this problem. As people start to understand how being deprived of sleep causes anxiety and depression, individuals will start to take better care of themselves. In addition, there are many hard-working professionals that get little to no sleep. In return, this will cause performances to drop. To resolve this problem rules could be put in place stating that calls should not be answered after a certain hour. Furthermore, mental health professionals can go through their patient’s sleep schedules, and remind them on a daily basis to get enough sleep.