Psychology in Action

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II. SLEEP AND DREAMS A. The Power of Circadian Rhythms - Biological rhythms affect many aspects of people’s lives. Instructor’s Resource Guide                          Chapter 5                                                 Page  149
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Circadian rhythms are biological changes that occur on a 24-hour cycle and affect not only the sleep and waking cycle, but fluctuations in learning efficiency, blood pressure, metabolism, pulse rate, and other responses. Psychology at Work: Dangers of Sleeping on the Job! - Disruptions in sleep cycles can cause problems, such as accidents or fatigue from shift work and jet lag. Sleep deprivation is correlated with significant mood alterations, decreased self-esteem, reduced concentration and motivation, increased irritability, lapses in attention, reduced motor skills, and increased cortisol levels. A two-part sleep deprivation questionnaire is presented in the “Try This Yourself” section. B. Stages of Sleep - Using the EEG, scientists have discovered important facts about the sleep process. A typical night's sleep consists of four to five 90-minute cycles. The cycle begins in Stage 1 and then moves through Stages 2, 3 and 4 with each stage producing characteristic brain wave patterns. After reaching the deepest level of sleep, the cycle reverses up to the REM (rapid eye movement) state. In REM sleep, the eyes dart about under the eyelids, the brain pattern of the sleeper is similar to the waking state and the person is often dreaming while the body is in muscle “paralysis”. REM sleep may play an important role in learning and memory. Non-REM sleep is important to our biological functioning and is nature’s first need over REM sleep. C. Why Do We Sleep and Dream? – There are two prominent theories of why we sleep - the repair restoration theory and the evolutionary/circadian theory. Three major theories of why we dream are reviewed. The psychoanalytic view (the wish-fulfillment theory ) says that dreams are disguised symbols of repressed desires. It has received little scientific support. The biological perspective (the activation-synthesis hypothesis ) argues that dreams are simply unimportant by-products of random stimulation of brain cells. The cognitive view sees dreams as information processing; they help us sort through everyday experiences, solve problems and think creatively. Gender and Cultural Diversity: Dream Variations and Similarities - Cross-cultural research comparing male and female dream content generally find dreams reflect life events – women are more likely to dream of children, family and household activities and men more often dream about strangers, violence, sexual activity, achievement, and outdoor events.
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