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Outline research studies into two forms of biological rhythms

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Introduction

Outline research studies into two forms of biological rhythms * Folkard et al, had six students spend a month isolated from any external cues. Temperature and activities were recorded constantly, and mood levels were measured every two hours using computer tasks. One student was asked to play her bagpipes regularly to see if the body's sense of rhythm was affected by the absence of external cues. Folkard et al findings confirmed the existence of several internal clocks. * Reinberg (1967) studied a young woman who spent three months in a cave relying on only the dim light of a miner's lamp. Her day lengthened to 24.6 hours and her menstrual cycle shortened to 25.7 days. Even though she was in the mine for only three months, it was a year before the cycle returned to its regular frequency. Reinberg speculated that it was the level of light in the cave which had influenced the menstrual cycle. Assess the impact of disrupting biological rhythms in humans The research into biological rhythms is fascinating but perhaps, even more importantly it has applications that range from the relatively trivial to some very serious matters such as understanding major industrial accidents. ...read more.

Middle

For most people it takes a week to before their circadian rhythms have adjusted to a new sleep wake cycle, yet many patterns of shift work do not take into account. Shift work can be organized in several ways. Research has indicated that the following shift patterns are most beneficial to both workers and employers. * Rotation rather than remaining on the same shift. * Changing shifts every three weeks or so rather than every week * Changing in a clockwise rather than anticlockwise direction. Monk and Folkard (1985) examined different pattern of shift work and found that changing shifts was more beneficial than remaining on one shift for a long time. Workers who rotated shifts were found to be more productive and create fewer errors which resulted in a fewer number of accidents. This is some what surprising as we would expect that it would be more beneficial to stay on the same shift. Monk and Folkard argue that shift rotation prevents an accumulation of sleep deprivation. ...read more.

Conclusion

. Siffre's 1975 experiences indicate that the natural (free running) circadian rhythm of the biological clock is around 25 hours. Traveling east shortens what is for the body an already shortened day. Traveling west, lengthened the day, which is what the body prefers To reduce the effects of jet lag, methods have been used to manipulate the biological clock with a technique called light therapy. They expose people to different types of lights, many times brighter than ordinary household light, for several hours near the time the subjects want to wake up. This helps them reset their biological clocks and adjust to a new time zone. Some have also suggested the use of melatonin to treat jet lag and to resynchronize the biological clock however there are potential dangers into the use of melatonin, as it does have a number of ill side effects. For people who are subjected to total blindness, they are subjected to life long sleeping problems because their retinas are unable to detect light. These people have a kind of permanent jet lag and periodic insomnia because their circadian rhythms follow their innate cycle rather than a 24-hour one. ...read more.

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