Circadian rhythms regulate many aspects of our daily life. They influence when we get hungry, when we need to use the bathroom, and when our internal temperature goes up or down. New research suggests they even influence your susceptibility to disease (Edgar et al., 2016). There are “clocks” in each and every cell in your body, but the master clock is found in the suprachiasmatic nucleus in your hypothalamus, and this is synchronized to external factors, the most important being light. The most obvious of these rhythms, and the one that you will focus on this week, is sleep.
Sleep is a universal phenomenon. Research suggests that most adults need about 7–9 hours of sleep per night to be fully rested and functional (National Sleep Foundation, 2015), although studies suggest that the average adult gets about 6.5 or fewer hours of sleep per night (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2014). Despite this universal need for sleep, we do not really know why we sleep. There are many theories, ranging from REM sleep playing a key role in shaking the fluid inside your eyeballs in order to deliver oxygen to the cells of your eye, helping with memory, and washing cellular debris out of your brain. This question of why we sleep has received a significant amount of research attention. One form of this is the 2015 Flame Challenge, coordinated by Alan Alda and Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. In this, scientists are challenged to answer the question “What is sleep?” in a way that can be understood by an 11 year old. While we may not understand as much as we would like about sleep, what we do know is that sleep is governed largely by genetic factors, and is “hard wired” into your brain.
In this week’s Assignment, you will first analyze and describe the stages of sleep and then discuss the theories of why we sleep.
Edgar, R. S., Stangherlin, A., Nagy, A. D., Nicoll, M. P., Efstathiou, S., O’Neill, J. S., & Reddy, A. B. (2016). Cell autonomous regulation of herpes and influenza virus infection by the circadian clock. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(36), 10085–10090. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1601895113
National Sleep Foundation. (2015, February 2). National Sleep Foundation recommends new sleep times. Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times
To prepare for this Assignment:
- Review Chapter 15 in Brain and Behavior, paying attention to stages of sleep and the brain regions associated with the promotion of sleep.
- Choose ONE of the following articles that applies to the biological basis of sleep:
“Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain”
“Testing Sleep Consolidation in Skill Learning: A Field Study Using an Online Game”
“Impaired memory consolidation in children with obstructive sleep disordered breathing”
You may choose your own article; however, it must be approved by your instructor by Thursday before the assignment is due.
The Assignment (2 pages):
- Describe the three stages of non-REM sleep and compare non-REM sleep with REM sleep. As part of your response, include the behaviors and patterns of brain activity that characterize each stage of sleep.
- Explain the role of different brain regions and neurotransmitters on promoting sleep and wakefulness.
- Summarize your chosen article about the biological basis of sleep in enough detail that your reader will understand what was done in the study and what the results of the study were (similar to the articles you found in BioPsychology.com in the first week).
- Then, apply the findings of your research to one of the sleep disorders described in Chapter 15 by either proposing a new hypothesis about the cause of one of the disorders or by explaining a new treatment for one of these disorders.
Support your Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You should include in-text citations in the body of your Assignment as well as complete references in APA format at the end of your Assignment.