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Outline and evaluate one or more explanations for sleep disorders

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´╗┐Outline and evaluate one or more explanations for sleep disorders (24 marks) Insomnia can be defined as problems with sleep patterns and in particular difficulties falling asleep or maintaining sleep. Some people who have very little sleep suffer no ill consequences and so a diagnosis of insomnia is not based on the number of hours slept but when the resulting daytime fatigue causes severe distress of impairs work, social or personal functioning for more than one month. Insomnia may be either secondary or primary. Secondary insomnia is when insomnia is caused by a psychiatric or medical disorder and is therefore often a symptom instead of another disorder. Some physical and psychiatric causes of secondary insomnia include depression, anxiety disorders, heart disease or Parkinson?s disease. Primary insomnia describes cases where insomnia simply occurs on its own, with no known cause, for more than one month. Primary insomnia may be caused by the developments of bad sleeping habits. An example of primary insomnia might be shift work insomnia where a person may well be attempting to sleep at times when their body clock tells them they should be awake. ...read more.


It is also difficult to make generalisations as there are many different types of insomnia with different causes and so we should looks at it as a symptom, not a disorder. For example melatonin appears to be effective in a small group of elderly patients with insomnia but is considered ineffective in the general treatment of insomnia. Dement argues that insomnia is really a symptom of other disorders and so the treatment should be tailored to suit the causes and insomnia is not really a sleep disorder in itself. It is important to distinguish primary and secondary insomnia because of the implications for treatment. However, recent research casts a doubt on whether insomnia is just an effect and it may be a cause. A study of almost 15000 Europeans found that insomnia more often proceeded than followed cases of mood disorder. This means that in some cases it might be helpful to treat insomnia regardless of whether it is a primary or secondary effect. Spielman and Glovinsky proposed a useful distinction between predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating components and risk factors. ...read more.


Understanding of narcolepsy stems primarily from research involving narcoleptic dogs. It was found that these dogs have a fault receptor for hypocretin and then it was discovered that there was a similar problems in humans and that hypocretin levels were very low. Most explanations of narcolepsy have been biological, though there have been some successful attempts to provide psychological explanations. For example, Lehrman and Weiss (1943) suggested that sudden attacks of sleepiness disguise sexual fantasies. It is clear that there is a genetic component to narcolepsy. In dogs, it is clear that one gene can pass on the trait, whereas in humans it does not, as in humans if one twin has narcolepsy there is only a 30% chance of the other twin developing it. Also drugs have proved useful in the treatment of narcolepsy which has been thought to activating hypocretin-containign nerve cells. The success of this drug supports the hypocretin deficiency explanation for narcolepsy. Most research used for evidence to explain narcolepsy comes from animals, and more specifically dogs. This is not suitable for humans as findings cannot be generalised as humans and dogs have difference sleeping patterns and anatomy and so findings lack validity. ...read more.

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