Psychology_and_your_Life_Ch04 - chapter s tates of...

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4 ±chapter± states of consciousness 122
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123 Martha Yasso was tired all the time—so tired that whenever her 3-year-old son went down for a nap, she grabbed the chance to rest as well. But even with those precious extra minutes of sleep, she was still so exhausted by late afternoon that she could barely keep her eyes open. One day last fall, as her son played in the den of their New York home, Yasso’s eyelids got heavier and heavier. Just before she nodded off completely, she felt her son’s hands on her face. He was shout- ing, “Mama, Mama! Wake up!” That was the turning point. . . . She called her doctor, who referred her to the NYU Sleep Disorders Center. After a night in the sleep lab, with electrodes monitoring her brain waves, breathing and movements, Yasso finally understood what was behind her overwhelming fatigue. NYU pul- monologist Ana Krieger told Yasso that during the eight hours she thought she was asleep, she had actu- ally awakened 245 times. “That number shocked me,” Yasso says. “But it also explained a lot.” (Kantrowitz, 2006, p. 51) N o d d i n g O f f Martha Yasso was suffering from a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea, which is characterized by con- stricted breathing during sleep that forces the sleeper to wake up momentarily—sometimes as many as hundreds of times each night. Fortunately, Martha was able to find rest with an electronic device that helps to keep her airway open while she sleeps. For most of us, sleep occurs naturally. In this and the following modules we’ll consider a range of topics about sleep and, more broadly, states of consciousness. C o n s c i o u s n e s s is the awareness of the sensations, thoughts, and feelings being experienced at a given moment. Unobservable to outsiders, consciousness is our subjective understanding of both the environment around us and our private inter- nal world. ±In±± waking consciousness, we are awake and aware of our thoughts, emotions, and perceptions. All other states of consciousness are considered altered states of consciousness. Among these, sleeping and dreaming occur naturally; drug use and hypnosis, in contrast, are methods of deliberately altering one’s state of consciousness. Because consciousness is so personal a phenomenon, psychologists were sometimes reluctant to study it. After all, who can say that your consciousness is similar to or, for that matter, different from anyone else’s? Contemporary psychologists reject the view that the study of consciousness is unsuit- able for the field of psychology. Instead, they argue that several approaches permit the scientific study of consciousness. For example, behavioral neuroscientists can measure brain-wave patterns under condi- tions of consciousness ranging from sleep to waking to hypnotic trances. And new understanding of the chemistry of drugs such as marijuana and alcohol has provided insights into the way they produce their pleasurable—as well as adverse—effects (Damasio, 2003; Mosher & Akins, 2007).
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Psychology_and_your_Life_Ch04 - chapter s tates of...

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