Disruption of biological rhythms (8+16 marks)


Discuss research into the disruption of biological rhythms
(8+16 marks)

Exogenous zeitgebers gradually change, allowing our body to adjust. However, rapid changes can disrupt the natural coordination between exogenous zeitgebers and our internally regulated rhythms.

Without the synchronisation of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers, we may find ourselves in situations which are dangerous in terms of our survival, for example animals may venture dangerously into the wild, such as rodents straying from their burrows during daylight, making them easy prey. 

In terms of humans, Peter Tripp went 201 hours without sleep in order to investigate the effects of sleep deprivation on our circadian rhythm sleep wake cycle. During the experiment, he showed rapid mood changes and was diagnosed psychotic shortly after, showing sleep deprivation can have crucial long-term impacts on our biological rhythms and general well-being. 

Similarly, Randy Gardner, a 17-year old American student went 264 hours without sleep. During the study he experienced hallucinations and paranoia. However, once he had slept for 15 hours at the end of the study he was back to 'normal', disporting Tripps findings that sleep deprivation can lead to long-term permanent impacts on our biological rhythms but this does suggest there are short-term impacts. 

These case studies were on sleep deprivation, which may make them unethical as although participants consented, they may not have really known


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