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1.) The Biological theory to sleep is based around the different types of biological rhythm these are; ‘circadian', ‘infradian' and ‘ultradian' rhythms.

Firstly, A biological rhythm can be defined as any change in a biological activity, such as sleep and walking, because they repeat periodically. Biological rhythms are synchronised with frequent, monthly or annual changes in ones environment. The first biological rhythm is ‘circadian' this refers too the daily pattern of sleeping for 8 hours in every 24. Another rhythm is ‘infradian' which is organisms that also exhibit cycles of periods longer than a day. Lastly ‘ultradian' is periods that take less than a day. An example of this would be the feeding pattern of many animals and an example of an infradian cycle would be the 28-day menstrual cycle or the hibernating behaviour of squirrels and hedgehogs.

Animals kept under light conditions still maintain a daily rhythmical cycle of roughly 24 hours. Therefore they sleep for normal amounts of time in each day and eat and do activities at regular intervals. However this is also due to a maintained constand temperature control of air-pressure and external noises during experiments to prove this. This findings shows that circadian and other rhythmic activities can be ‘built-in' and so persist even when the environmental stimuli are absent. However ‘Biological clocks' are not perfect and normally require some sort of environmental input to correct them each day. Much research into biological rhythms has focused on understanding the relationship between internal pacemakers and external biological clocks.

An experiment on Biological rhythms was a case that involved a French cave explorer called ‘Michel Siffre' in 1972, spent six months in an underground cave in Texas, and separated from natural light/dark cycles. He was aired up so that various body functions could be recorded. When he went to bed, they turned the lights off, when he was awake the researchers put the lights on. He ate and slept when he wanted. At first his sleep and waking cycle was very inconsistent, but settled down to a regular pattern of between 25 and 30 hours, that is, slightly longer than a 24-hour cycle. When he was finally taken out, it was the 197th day, but by his days it was only the 151st day. His mind lost track of time, but oddly enough, his body had not. He'd unintentionally kept regular cycles of sleeping and walking. Siffre therefore discovered Human beings have internal clocks.


A disadvantage of this experiment is it is unrealistic as no normal person would have spent six months in an underground cave. However an advantage is this role is very important that they play in helping us understand the nature of circadian rhythms.

5 stages of sleep

Stage 1 is the beginning of the sleep cycle, and is a relatively light stage of sleep. It can be considered a transition period between wakefulness and sleep. In Stage 1, the brain produces high amplitude theta waves, which are very slow brain waves. This period of sleep lasts only a brief time (around 5-10 minutes). If you awaken someone during this stage, they might report that they weren't really asleep.

Stage 2 is the second stage of sleep and lasts for approximately 20 minutes. The brain begins to produce bursts of rapid, rhythmic brain wave activity known as sleep spindles. Body temperature starts to decrease and heart rate begins to slow.

Stage 3

Deep, slow brain waves known as delta waves begin to emerge during stage 3 sleep. Stage 3 is a transitional period between light sleep and a very deep sleep.

Stage 4 is sometimes referred to as delta sleep because of the slow brain waves known as delta waves that occur during this time. Stage 4 is a deep sleep that lasts for approximately 30 minutes. Bed-wetting and sleepwalking are most likely to occur at the end of stage 4 sleep.

Stage 5 - REM sleep

Most dreaming occurs about an hour after we fall asleep during the fifth stage of sleep, known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep and is characterized by the rapid and random movement of the eyes as well as increased respiration rate and increased brain activity. We have around three to five REM episodes a night. REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep because while the brain and other body systems become more active, muscles become more relaxed. Dreaming occurs due because of increased brain activity, but voluntary muscles become paralysed. REM sleep in adult humans typically occupies 20-25% of total sleep, about 90-120 minutes of a night's sleep.

Strengths of the Biological Approach

• The biological approach has proved successful in showing that genetic factors play a role in explaining individual differences in intelligence and in explaining why some individuals are more likely than others to develop certain mental disorders.

• The biological approach has proved valuable in terms of the use of chemotherapy to treat various mental disorders In addition genetic counselling for prospective parents is an outcome of our understanding of the links between genes and behaviour.

Weaknesses of the Biological Approach

• The biological approach is oversimplified in that we can't obtain a complete understanding of human behaviour by focusing only on biological factors. For example, various psychological, social and cultural factors influence the development of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, and these factors are ignored within the biological approach.

• Another disadvantage is nature vs. nurture. The biological approach exaggerates the importance of genetic factors in determining behaviour while minimising the importance of environmental factors. Biological explanations are more appropriate for some kinds of behaviour (eg: vision) than other kinds of where higher order thinking is involved (eg: emotion, reasoning)

The psychodynamic approach to sleep is based around of Freud's work and research around psychoanalysis. Freud relied heavily upon his observations and case studies of his patients when he formed his theory of personality development. Unlike the modern counselling movement, where clients sit beside or opposite the therapist, Freud preferred to sit behind the patient as they lay on his couch so he would not distract them. Early in his career he experimented with hypnosis to relax patients and allow them to access unconscious thoughts, but he began to worry that he might be suggesting thoughts to the patient and therefore dropped it as a technique. Psychoanalysis typically involves; Free association and Dream analysis. According to Freud, there are two functions of dreams:

• To allow the expression of primitive urges e.g. sex and aggression

• To use disguised images to protect the sleeper from becoming aware of their thoughts.

Freud believed that the content of dreams is related to wish fulfilment and suggested that dreams have two types of content: manifest content and latent content. The manifest content is the actual literal subject matter of the dream, while the latent content is the underlying meaning of these symbols. The latent content of a dream is the hidden psychological meaning of the dream.

1. Displacement – This occurs when the desire for one thing or person is symbolized by something or someone else. This element of dream work disguises the emotional meaning of the latent content by confusing the important and insignificant parts of the dream.     

2. Projection-

This happens when the dreamer propels their own desires and wants on to another person.

3. Symbolization – This operation also censors the repressed ideas contained in the dream by including objects that are meant to symbolize the latent content of the dream. The dreamer's repressed urges or suppressed desires are acted out metaphorically.

4. Condensation- this is the process in which the dreamer hides their feelings or urges by contracting it or underplaying it in to a brief dream image or event. Thus the meaning of this dream imagery may not be apparent or obvious. Many different ideas and concepts are represented within the span of a single dream. Information is condensed into a single thought or image.

5. Rationalization-

This is regarded as the final stage of dream work. The dreaming mind organizes an incoherent dream into one that is more comprehensible and logical. This is also known as secondary revision.

Freud also believed that dreams symbolised certain things In Freud's later work on dreams he explored the possibility of universal symbols in dreams. Some of these were sexual in nature, including poles, guns and swords representing the penis and horse riding and dancing representing sexual intercourse.

An experiment linked to the psychodynamic approach of dreams is Sigmund Freud (1909) Analysis of a phobia of a five year old boy (little Hans).

Freud used a case study method to investigate Little Hans' phobia. However, the case study was actually carried out by the boy's father who was a friend and supporter of Freud. Freud probably only met the boy once. The father reported to Freud via correspondence and Freud gave directions as how to deal with the situation based on his interpretations of the father's report.

Freud noted that it was the special relationship between Hans and his father that allowed the analysis to progress and for the discussions with the boy to be so detailed and so intimate. The first reports of Hans are when he was 3 years old.

The first reports of Hans are when he is 3 years old when he developed an active interest in his widdler (penis) and also those of other people. For example on one occasion he asked “Mummy, have you got a widler too?” Throughout this time, the main theme of his fantasies and dreams was widdlers and widdling.

When he was about three years and six months old Hans' mother told him not to touch his widdler or else she would call the doctor to come and cut it off. Around the same time, Hans' mother gave birth to his sister Hanna, and Hans expressed jealousy towards her though this disappeared after a few months.

Hans had considerable interest in other children, especially girls, and formed emotional attachments with them.

When Hans was almost 5, Hans' father wrote to Freud explaining his concerns about Hans. He described the main problem

“He is afraid a horse will bite him in the street, and this fear  seems somehow connected with his having being frightened by a large penis”  The father went on to provide Freud with extensive details of conversations with Hans.  Together, Freud and the father tried to understand what the boy was experiencing and undertook to resolve his phobia of horses.

Freud noted that Hans's fear of horses had developed just after he had experienced some anxiety dreams about losing his mother and around the time he had been warned about playing with his widdler. Freud argued that Hans, who enjoyed getting into bed with his mother, had a repressed longing for her, and had focused his libido (sexual energy) on her.

Strengths of the psychodynamic approach

The theory's suggests a link between dreaming and desire and has generated research, speculation and controversy in relation to the topic of dreaming. A study of patients suffering from strokes reveals that they lose their capacity to dream if there is damage to areas of higher forebrain governing desires (Solms, 1999). This supports the claim that there may be a link between dreaming and desire.

Weaknesses of this approach

It is based on the interpretation of dreams and it is not possible to gather evidence to support the theory. The content of dreams may mirror events during a person's waking hours and may not be symbolic in any way

Poor research evidence as a lot of it is just theories by Freud

The examples and research can be seen as Biased as Freud used mainly middle class women from Vienna for his research

There is too much Emphasis on sexual factors which may not be evident especially towards children as they do not have knowledge of sex.

2.) Restoration Theory (Adam and Oswald 1983)

According to the repair and restoration theory of sleep (Oswald, 1966), sleeping is essential for restoring the physiological processes that keep the body and mind healthy and properly functioning. This theory suggests that NREM sleep is important for restoring physiological functions, while REM sleep is essential in restoring mental functions.


This is supported by the fact that newborn babies have a high proportion of REM sleep, where it makes up 50 to 60 percent of sleep time, gradually falling to the normal proportion of about 25 percent as the child grows. The month before and after birth are a time of rapid brain growth and development so that, if REM is a time when such processes occur, it is logical that the baby should show increased REM sleep.

Support for this theory is also provided by research that shows periods of REM sleep increase following periods of sleep deprivation and strenuous physical activity. During sleep, the body also increases its rate of cell division and protein synthesis, further suggesting that repair and restoration occurs during sleeping periods.

It has been shown that sleep deprivation affects the immune system. In a study by Zager et al (2007) rats were deprived of sleep for 24 hours. When compared with a control group, the sleep-deprived rats blood tests indicated a 20% decrease in white blood cell count, a significant change in the immune system. It is now possible to state that ”sleep loss impairs immune function and immune challenge alters sleep”. Rats kept awake indefinitely develop skin lesions, hyperphagia, loss of body mass, hypothermia and eventually, fatal sepsis (when the body overreacts to an infection).


However Horne (1978) reviewed 50 studies in which humans had been deprived of sleep. He found that very few of them reported that sleep deprivation had interfered with the participants' ability to perform physical exercise. Neither was there any evidence of a physiological stress response to the sleep deprivation. However, prolonged sleep deprivation in rats appears to cause them to increase their metabolic rate, lose weight, and die within 19 days (Everson et al, 1989). Allowing these animals to sleep within that time prevents their death.

3.) Insomnia

Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed in the morning. Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder affecting around one in three people in the UK, particularly the elderly.

Symptoms of Insomnia include;

• Difficulties falling asleep, lying awake all night or waking up more than several times a night.

• Waking up early in the morning and being unable to go back to sleep

• Not feeling refreshed when waking up in the morning and feeling irritable during the day and unable to concentrate.

The average amount of sleep for an adult is 7 to 9 hours a night, however every individual is different and the effects of the amount of sleep one gets varies. Children and babies sleep longer and older adults may sleep less.

Causes of Insomnia are associated with;

• Stress and anxiety

• Poor sleeping environment such as a uncomfortable bed, a bedroom that's too light or noisy, too hot or too cold.

• Lifestyle factors such as Jet lag and shift work which affect our biological clock

• Mental health conditions such as depression which may cause you to stay up late and overthink.

• Physical health conditions such as heart problems and long term pain

To try and treat insomnia doctors suggest;

• setting regular times for going to bed and waking up

• relaxing before bed time – try taking a warm bath or listening to calming music

• using thick curtains or blinds, an eye mask and earplugs to stop you being woken up by light and noise

• not watching TV or using phones, tablets or computers shortly before going to bed

• not napping during the day

• writing a list of your worries and any ideas about how to solve them before going to bed, to help you forget about them until the morning

More and more people are staying up late working or using social media on computers, tablets and smartphones. This is causing an epidemic of poor sleep and creating less productive workers/pupils the following day. Research has now shown that light at the blue end of the spectrum is more likely to keep people awake because it suppresses the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Therefore blue light emitted by mobile phones and tablets stops the body knowing that it's time for sleep. Richard Wiseman suggest the following remedies:

• Limit exposure to this light a few hours before bed

• If you must use your smartphone, tablet or computer late in the evening, turn down the brightness

• Ensure that the device is at least 12 inches from your eyes

• Use an app that dims the lighting on your screen at night

• If you really can't control your impulse to surf the net, wear amber tinted glasses that block blue light.

Furthermore some people may rely on sleeping pills however doctors do not recommend this as they only have short term affects and cannot be used as a reliant.

An experiment linked to insomnia is a case study of sleep deprivation and how insomnia can affect certain people. Peter Tripp was a Top 40 radio personality from the mid-1950s, whose career peaked with his 1959 record breaking 201 hour “wakeathon” (working on the radio non-stop without sleep to benefit the March of the Dimes). For much of the stunt, he sat in a glass booth in Times Square. After a few days he began to hallucinate, and for the last 66 hours the observing scientists and doctors gave him drugs to help him stay awake. He was broadcasting in New York City at the time. Tripp suffered psychologically, after the stunt, he began to think he was an imposter of himself, and kept that thought for some time.

His career soon suffered a massive downturn when he was involved in a scandal of 1960. Like several other disc jockeys he had been playing particular records in return for gifts from record companies. Indicted only weeks after his stunt, it emerged that he had accepted $36,050 in bribes. Despite his claim that he "never took a dime from anyone", he was found guilty on a charge of commercial bribery, receiving a $500 fine and a six-month suspended sentence.

Even his “wakeathon” record did not endure for long. Other DJs had quickly attempted to beat it (such publicity stunts being common in radio broadcasting at the time) and Dave Hunter, in Jacksonville, Florida soon claimed success (225 hours). Six years after Tripp's record, it was smashed by high school student Randy Gardner, who lasted 11 days.

After leaving WMGM, Tripp was unable to re-establish himself in the world of radio, drifting from station to station.  Returning to L.A., he had more success working in physical fitness, sales, and marketing. He diversified into freelance motivational speaking, writing and stockbroking before settling into a Palm Springs California retirement. Tripp died at the age of 73 following a stroke, leaving two sons and two daughters. His four marriages all ended in divorce.

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