Discuss explanations for one or more sleep disorders (8+16)
A common sleep disorder preventing a person from sleeping is insomnia which can be divided into primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is not caused by any other health condition or physical cause
One biological explanation of insomnia is due to a person’s genetics. A family history of persistent difficulties with sleep indicates that the disorder may be inherited. The gene, or combination of genes, may prevent the neural mechanisms that control sleep from operating. Idiopathic insomnia is a rare form of chronic insomnia which is present from birth with no obvious cause and is thought to be a genetic disorder, reducing GABA production and leading to insomnia. Dauvilliers et al asked 256 primary insomniacs to complete clinical interviews, psychometric questionnaires about family history and physiological recordings during sleep. They found that 73% of those with insomnia reported relatives with the disorder compared with just 24% in the control group. This data suggests that the disorder is genetically inherited.
However this research may exclude other variables that weren’t accounted for, which could explain insomnia which doesn’t run in families (24% control group). If a child is brought up in a house with parents who have difficulties sleeping, it will inevitably affect the child who might also become an insomniac and have a wider awareness of the condition. In support of this alternative environmental approach to insomnia, electronic devices emitting LED lights such as a mobile phone or TV are usually used to relax a person at the end of the day near bedtime. These stimulate the SCN of the optical nerve which tells the body that it’s daytime and the body should be awake, thus explaining why bad sleep hygiene leads to insomnia.
Furthermore all these biological explanations are reductionist because they do not nonbiological explanations into account. All of the above theories suggest insomnia is only due to an organic cause, however a possible psychodynamic explanation comes from Lehrman and Weiss who suggested that narcolepsy was an attempt to hide sexual fantasies. Although, this is very difficult to prove and is less reliable than scientific biological explanations.
However, as some of the symptoms attributed to narcolepsy are triggered by stressful or highly emotional situations, socio-economic factors may have an effect. The approach over-estimates the role of nature and is not sufficient to explain why people suffer from narcolepsy and insomnia.
Another explanation of restlessness is poor sleep hygiene and anxiety. Habits, behaviours and activities that inhibit sleep such as watching tv before bed or studying in the bedroom can restrict the onset and then disturb the quality of sleep. For example, a…