Psychology AQA Sleep Insomnia

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  • Created by: Jess
  • Created on: 03-01-14 21:36

Primary Insomnia

Primary Insomnia: Not caused by any medical, psychological or physiological problem. Could be due to shift work etc.


  • Learnt Insomnia

This occurs when people worry about not being able to sleep, so they try hrder to sleep but end up just staying awake more.

  • Idiopathic

This occurs due to having childhood insomnia.

  • Sleep State Misconception

The belief that you havent slept adequately yet you actually have.

Dement did a lab study on people who said they took 1-4 hours to fall asleep, but actually they took 15 mins. 

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Secondary Insomnia

Secondary Insomnia: Caused by physical illness, other sleep problems, drug/alchol abuse etc. 

Mental Health and insomnia:

Depression and insomnia are linked, as they have the same chemicals linked to sleep. Both have a reduced seratonin level and spend more time in rem. 

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Biological Explanations


Insomniacs had higher ACTH levels which makes it harder to relax. Also, those who had suffered for longer than 6 months had less GABA transmitter. GABA quietens the brain, which could explain why they don't sleep.


The usual decrease in brain activity isn't present so the brain is aroused. This links to genetics, as those whose 1st degree relative, 19% for Mothers, 11% for Sisters.

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Evaluation of Primary and Secondary


If it was due to genetics, then it would be a 100% concordance rate. This means it has to be partially environmental, or due to other factors. Relaxation methods seem to work, as they quieten down the aroused brain, however, we're not sure where this is from. 


Could be due to sleep apnoea(snoring) which causes difficulty breathing, so causes insomnia through thi due to the person awakening several times. Obesity is linked due to narrower airways and difficulty breathing, leading to irritability and sleep deprivation.

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Other Points on Insomnia

Applications: (Solutions!)

Sleep 'hygiene'. This is where you do things to try and increase your sleep quality, such as drinking less caffeine, more exercise, no napping and not using your phone before bed.

Individual differences: Older women tend to struggle more, as they have more stress from work, and hormones affect too. 

Valid? Dement argued that you can't generalise due to the quantity of types. ome types don't express insomnia in a meaningful way.

Reductionist: Puts it down to basic lack of biological functions, when it seems more complex. 

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