Biological Rhythms and Sleep Part 1

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Biological Rhythms and Sleep



Research by Benca et al. (2010) explains the evidence that disruptionof circadian clock genes impairs the sleep and wake cycles. Thesedisruptions in the clock genes constitute the molecular basis of thecircadian pacemaker. Studies have been conducted on the effect ofthese disruptions on mental performance (Reilly and Edwards 275).From the findings, genes are responsible for the regulation of outputrhythms throughout the central nervous system and the periphery.Watson and Breedlove assert thatthe Circadian Genes are involved in mood disorders, which alsohave an influence on biological rhythms (272). Further studies showthat turning on and off genes that control and organisms’ internalclocks affect their biological rhythms. Similarly, drugs that affectclock genes have an effect on the parts of the brain that controlbiological rhythms. With this evidence, scientists assert that genesinfluence the biological rhythms.

B.Nervous system and biological rhythms

The hormones that influence the biological rhythms include thyroidstimulating hormone, prolactin, and melatonin. The system regulatesthese hormones over 24 hour’s period, which influences the sleeppatterns of an organism. The Neurotransmitters that influencebiological rhythms include acetylcholine, acetylcholine,norepinephrine, and serotonin. Among others, they influence sleep,thermoregulation, and alertness. The brain structures that influencebiological rhythms are the peribrachial area, thalamus, basalforebrain, and tectum. Jet lag causes a disruption in the biologicalrhythm by changing the sleep routine. For instance, when travelingEast, a person experiences shorter days and has to compensate for thetime lost through sleeping. This, in turn, affects the release ofclock hormones, changing the manner that the system works (Watsonand Breedlove 278). In doing so, the body has to catch up tore-establish the normal circadian rhythm. This takes time, and duringthe period, the biological rhythm is affected.

C:Nervous system and sleep

Glutamic acid is an amino acid, which is a common neurotransmitterthat influences sleep. A big percentage of the brain’s neuronsrelease glutamine. Acetylcholine also influences sleep, and itcontrols the voluntary movement of muscles. Norepinephrine anddopamine as well influence sleep. Serotine, which is also influentialin functions such as memory, influences sleep as well (Flore-Ramos etal. 233). The hormones that influence sleep are the brainstem and thehypothalamus, as well as the cerebral cortex. The neural circuit oforexin maintains sleep and wakefulness. Sleep drugs influence sleepby working on dopamine and acetylcholine systems. The main reasonsleep drugs are bad is because they disrupt the normal hormones andsystems that control sleep. Some of the side effects are difficultyurinating and confusion, as well as unwanted sleep in the morning.


Diurnal animals have adapted to being active during the day. Theseanimals spend most of their time active during the day and areinactive at night (Watson andBreedlove 272). An advantage for this adaptation is exposureto vitamin D and good visibility. An example is a tortoise. It usesthe daytime for sunlight and hunting visibility. Nocturnal animalsare active at night. They are vulnerable to predation, hence, comeout at night when it is saved for them. They are adapted to highlight sensitivity and well-developed senses of smell and hearing. Anexample is a bat. Crepuscular animals are active during twilight. Themain adaptation to this is that their prey is active during thistime, and they have enough time and sunlight to hunt. A deer is anexample of a crepuscular animal. Insects do not sleep. Instead, theyrest. This is because their brains are not well developed to inducesleep, as it is known. During rest, they become less responsive tostimuli around them.

Part2: Insomnia

Whatis Insomnia?

According to Watsonand Breedlove, Insomnia is a diseasecharacterized by total lack of sleep or inability to maintain thenormal duration of sleep (296). Clinically, Insomnia can be describedas dissatisfaction with amount and quality of the sleep. A personaffected by this disorder often, present complaints such as:

  • Difficulties in falling asleep in spite of going to bed early

  • Having an interrupted sleep with difficulties going back to sleep

  • Waking up earlier than expected

  • Having a very uncomfortable sleep

Insomnia’ssigns and symptoms

Thesigns and symptoms of Insomnia resemble those of other medicalconditions, especially mental disorders. The common symptom ofInsomnia is difficulty in falling asleep or repeatedly waking upduring the night (Watson andBreedlove 297). The symptoms begin withstress, which later affects the ability to get good sleep and maybecome chronic if not treated early. Many people ignore the nightsigns until the symptoms show up during the daytime that is when theyrealize the need for medical attention. Some of the daytime symptomsof Insomnia include:

  • Inability to concentrate and focus

  • Poor memory

  • Poor mental coordination

  • Impaired social interactions or easily irritable

  • Fatigue that might lead to motor-vehicle accidents especially for drivers

Underlyingphysiology of Insomnia

Sleepphysiology underlies the causes of Insomnia. Sleepphysiology is a complicated biological phenomenon. The sleep and wakestate are made up of sleep-wake circadian rhythms. The circadianrhythms are the most important of all the interior circadian rhythmsystems situated in the neural and tangential tissues. The circadiansystems are under the control of a fundamental pacesetter known asthe master clock. The master clock, on the other hand, is controlledby several neurotransmitters in the frontal hypothalamus. When thesleep-wake circadian rhythm (the master clock) is disrupted, acondition referred to as circadian rhythm disorder, a person suffersfrom sleep-wake imbalance. Sleep-wake imbalance can mean sleepingmore than normal or inability to sleep, the condition known asInsomnia.


Thetwo primary goals for treating Insomnia are to enhance the quality ofsleep and improve the daytime impairments. If the patient suffersfrom the medical or mental disorder, it is advisable first to treatthe disorder. Research shows that pain control can successfully cureinsomnia related with pain conditions. Clinically, it is recommendedto combine both psychological and behavioural interventions to treatInsomnia. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of thebehavioural interventions that have proved to be effective intreating both chronic and primary Insomnia. The treatment of primaryInsomnia starts with educating the patients about the sleep disorderand giving them the appropriate sleep hygiene measures. Before CBT,most patients are asked to record their sleep patterns in a diary forone to two weeks. The diary gives a clearer picture of the degree ofthe disorder and enables the doctor to administer the appropriate andbest treatment. Apart from CBT, there are numerous medications fortreating Insomnia. These includeBenzodiazepinesedatives, Nonbenzodiazepine sedativesand Antihistamines(Reilly and Edwards283). All the three drugsenable the patient to go to sleep without having trouble. However, itis advisable not o use the medication as the single therapy fortreating Insomnia. The medications work best when used in combinationwith other non-medical therapies.


Mysleep pattern

On weekends, I sleep in the late night at 2 A.M. my waking time isnormally at 8:30 A.M. however, I have a tendency of going back tosleep for about 15 minutes. This extra sleep is not scheduled, as Isometimes avoid sleeping after waking up. On the weekdays, my sleeppattern Is quite different. Given that I have to wake up in time, Ialways set up an alarm. However, on the weekdays, I do not have toset an alarm, as I can wake up late. My sleep pattern also changeswith the season. During winter, I sleep longer, unlike during summer.Due to the many activities during winter, my eyes are often reddenedfrom the lack of adequate rest though sleep. This also affects myemotions, which from a research I did, are associated with the lackof sleep.

There are many of benefits from a good sleep. Scientists say thatsleep helps to improve the biological functioning of an individual.Specifically, three areas of biological performance are enhancedthrough a healthy sleep. The first one is memory. After taking a goodrest in sleep, individuals are more likely to remember details ofevents that occurred, as well as store more information fromexperiences. Sleeping also helps people to learn quickly, as iteliminates fatigue, which hinders concentration. Fourthly, sleephelps individuals to heal from physical harm. Given that there islittle activity that takes place when a person is resting in sleepwounds are likely to heal faster due to the lack of disturbance. Atthe same time, sleep improves concentration when awake. Individualswho take enough sleep are likely to pay more attention than those whodo not.

Works Cited

Benca, Ruth et al. “‘BiologicalRhythms, Higher Brain Function, and Behavior: Gaps, Opportunities andChallenges.’”&nbspBrainresearch reviews&nbsp62.1(2009): 57–70.&nbspPMC.Web. 11 Dec. 2015. Print.

Flores-Ramos, Mónica, et al.&quotGonadal hormone levels and platelet tryptophan and serotoninconcentrations in perimenopausal women with or without depressivesymptoms.&quot&nbspGynecologicalEndocrinology&nbsp30.3(2014): 232-235. Print.

Reilly, Thomas, and Ben Edwards.&quotAltered sleep–wake cycles and physical performance inathletes.&quot&nbspPhysiology&amp behavior&nbsp90.2(2007): 274-284. Print.

Watson, Neil Verne, and S. MarcBreedlove.&nbspThemind`s machine: foundations of brain and behavior.Sinauer Associates, Incorporated Publishers, 2012. Print.

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