Psychology AQA Sleep Somnambulism

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  • Created by: Jess
  • Created on: 01-01-14 19:54

Somnambulism (Sleep Walking)

  • Sleep Walking is most common in children aged 4-6, but some adults still suffer. Most sleepwalkers will walk with their eyes open, yet when awakened, show total confusion. During this phase, they will do normal day things such as getting dressed, playing with toys, having conversations etc. It usually occurs during the last stage of short-wave-sleep, and is seen as a malfunction of non-rem to rem sleep. 
  • Broughton 1968

He aroused people froom SWS by standing them up and questioning them. During REM, participants became lucid immediately; SWS showed mental confusion and slurred speech.

If given a glass of water before bed and woken during SWS, they tended to go to the toilet then back to bed, yet showed no recognition of this.

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Sleep walking explanations 1


-Ten times more likely to sleep walk, if your first degree parent does. In MZ twins, there was a concordance rate of 50%, compared to a 12% in DZ twins.  Bassetti studies adult leepwalkers and observed those who did sleepwalk, were more likely to carry the HLA gene.

-There isn't 100% concordance rate though, so it can't be completely true. Other fctors such as the envionment and your nurture could cause sleepwalking, not just your nurture. The HLA gene is only 50% which is only a half, and not a large relationship shown.

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Sleep walking explanations 2


-GABA levels are low in sleepwalkers. Oliverio found that sleepwalkers GABA systems are underdeveloped, meaning the brain is still aroused, causing people to move whilst still asleep, so activity is higher. Also, the sleeping tablet zopidem alters chemical balances in the brain, affceting sleepwalking. 

Saddiq found increased levels of zolpadem which helps insomnia, had caused sleepwalkers to send emails in the night without remembering, showing a change in structure of the brain. 

-GABA is used in insomnia, so it is hard to show causation, as there is only a correlation, and it can't be proven to be the cause. People react differently to sleeping tablets, so the zolpadem may have a good affect on some people, yet cause problems for others. 

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Sleep walking explanations 3


-Psychodynamics believe that sleepwalking is a result of unresolved conflicts within the brain. 

-Abrams used  case where a man had shoplifted whilst sleepwalking, and tracing back to his childhood had found out he'd been tied to a bed and treated badly, leading to his sleepwalking. However, this is a case study so can't be generlised to everyone. 

-Most of the studies done are case studies which lack in representation as individual differences do occur. Also, it is seen as too simple to simply blame it on confliction, and therefore is reductionist. 

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Sleep walking Evaluation


-Has been usd in hotels, as ways of helping are now in force. In Travel Lodges, sleepwalkers are always put on the ground floor, as well as keeping towels and dressing gowns at reception, and being told that waking them up isn't bad.

-Determinist, as it is no being used in court cases(such as Abrams) due to the fact it is out of our control if it occurs, and people killing their wives whilst asleep. It is seen as 'biologically determined' so we can't control it.

-Bioogical Reductionist, as it puts it down to biological factos only. 

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