Outline and evaluate one or more explanations for sleep disorders

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Outline and evaluate one or more explanations for sleep disorders (24 marks)
Insomnia can be defined as problems with sleep patterns and in particular difficulties falling asleep or
maintaining sleep. Some people who have very little sleep suffer no ill consequences and so a
diagnosis of insomnia is not based on the number of hours slept but when the resulting daytime
fatigue causes severe distress of impairs work, social or personal functioning for more than one
month. Insomnia may be either secondary or primary. Secondary insomnia is when insomnia is caused
by a psychiatric or medical disorder and is therefore often a symptom instead of another disorder.
Some physical and psychiatric causes of secondary insomnia include depression, anxiety disorders,
heart disease or Parkinson's disease. Primary insomnia describes cases where insomnia simply occurs
on its own, with no known cause, for more than one month. Primary insomnia may be caused by the
developments of bad sleeping habits. An example of primary insomnia might be shift work insomnia
where a person may well be attempting to sleep at times when their body clock tells them they
should be awake. There are numerous subtypes of primary insomnia including; psychophysiological
insomnia which is a form of anxiety-induced insomnia caused by a worry about getting a lack of sleep,
idiopathic insomnia which is a lifelong sleeplessness and sleep state misinterpretation where people
sleep adequately but feel they do not. The diathesis-stress model is a psychological theory
explaining behaviour as a result of genetic vulnerability together with stress from life experiences. It
assumes that the onset of a disorder such as insomnia results from a combination of one's biological
disposition towards the given disorder and stressful events that bring about the onset of a disorder.
Other supporting evidence include Smith et al's study where patients with insomnia were studies, as
well as a control group of normal sleepers and they were studied polysomnographically for 3 nights
with whole brain scans conducted on the third night. Patients with insomnia showed consistent and
significant decreases in blood flow compared to good sleepers in the frontal medial, occipital and
parietal cortices.
However there are many methodological problems with sleep studies such as Smith et al's. Sleep
studies have been criticised for lacking ecological validity because they are conducted in lab
experiments. This means that participants would not sleep in their normal beds and this change in
environment could affect sleeping patterns and researchers do not know the extent to which the
results are affected. The results from those lab experiments cannot be generalised to normal sleep
as they lack mundane realism. However, Garcia-Borreguero et al. found a positive correlation
between rating scales and laboratory measures of restless leg syndrome, providing some evidence
that sleep laboratory measures are good indicators of certain sleep disorders.
It is also difficult to make generalisations as there are many different types of insomnia with different
causes and so we should looks at it as a symptom, not a disorder. For example melatonin appears to
be effective in a small group of elderly patients with insomnia but is considered ineffective in the
general treatment of insomnia. Dement argues that insomnia is really a symptom of other disorders
and so the treatment should be tailored to suit the causes and insomnia is not really a sleep disorder
in itself.
It is important to distinguish primary and secondary insomnia because of the implications for
treatment. However, recent research casts a doubt on whether insomnia is just an effect and it may
be a cause. A study of almost 15000 Europeans found that insomnia more often proceeded than

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This means that in some cases it might be helpful to treat insomnia
regardless of whether it is a primary or secondary effect.
Spielman and Glovinsky proposed a useful distinction between predisposing, precipitating and
perpetuating components and risk factors. Predisposing factors include a genetic vulnerability for
insomnia. Research from Watson has shown that about 50% variance in the risk for insomnia can be
attributed to genetic factors. Research also suggests that physiological factors may predispose a
person to develop insomnia.…read more

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Also drugs have proved useful in the treatment of narcolepsy which has been thought to activating
hypocretin-containign nerve cells. The success of this drug supports the hypocretin deficiency
explanation for narcolepsy.
Most research used for evidence to explain narcolepsy comes from animals, and more specifically
dogs. This is not suitable for humans as findings cannot be generalised as humans and dogs have
difference sleeping patterns and anatomy and so findings lack validity.…read more



Excellent essay! Hope I can do this in the exam :)


how do you know its A*>?


This is a really detailed and well structured essay. thank you for sharing


this essay is really detailed which is amazing however, thinking of the exam we only have 30 mins to write an essay. can anyone recommend a shorter version of the same essay question. thanks 


highly doubt this is an A* essay, grammar is poor and evaluation is minimal

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