We have recently begun to study sleep as a biological process. We analyzed different stages of sleep and its complex study as a cycle. We also investigated various factors of influence and disturbance of the sleep process. Particular attention has been paid to specific sleep patterns, factors affecting them, deviations from the norm, and severe consequences. This topic is particularly relevant nowadays with enhanced stress and anxiety levels and a fast pace of life, which predispose a person to sleep disorder and chronic fatigue.
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The Different Stages of the Sleep Cycle
The whole process of a person’s sleep can be divided into several stages. The first stage can be considered superficial sleep, a cross between dream and reality. Throughout this period, people are still awake, but breathing, pulse, blood pressure, and muscle tone start to decrease. The second stage is deeper sleep, during which the activity of the whole body continues to weaken. At this point, people stop responding to minor external stimuli. In this phase, twitching of the arms and legs or even tremor may occur. The third stage (now decided to combine with the fourth) is called deep sleep, or delta. During deep sleep, the body starts the synthesis of amino acids and growth hormones for the full functioning of the body and regeneration processes. People sleep in certain fragments, specific of which is called a cycle. There can be 4-6 such cycles per night, and each cycle includes all stages of deep and REM sleep (Lovell & Liszewski, n.d.). The topic is well covered, but the anatomical side of the sleep and what happens to the brain through the whole cycle is not entirely clear.
The BaYaka Sleep Patterns
Research among the population of the BaYaka has significantly expanded the understanding of the sleep process, its flexibility, and the dependence on culture and social status. Examinations analyzed the sleep patterns of villagers and people staying in the forest. Despite the heightened security in the village at the expense of neighbors, it was more challenging for them to decompress and sleep there due to the additional noise. Village homes did not mean to have doors, which significantly increased anxiety and additional alertness. On the contrary, the forest seemed to be a quiet, peaceful place, more conducive to a decent amount of sleep. The gender classification of sleep did not differ much; men and women had roughly the same daily activity level and social status, resulting in similar fatigue and sleep quality (Kilius et al., 2021). This point was unexpected to me due to the apparent obligations of women in caring for children, which usually significantly decrease the efficiency and duration of sleep in any society.
Aggressive Sleepwalking Patterns and Their Consequences
Violence in sleepwalking usually manifests itself in the first couple of hours of sleep. However, in some cases, the aggression can be caused by epileptic seizures occurring at different points in the cycle. REM sleep behavior disorder is characteristic of the second half of the night. Destructive behavior during sleep can occur at different ages; everything depends on the underlying physiology. Books and movies usually show sleepwalking in a light and humorous context. The real situation can get severe, including injuries, unconscious violence, and deadly accidents (Cartwright, 2004). It is important to monitor yourself and others for the slightest deviations from the standard of behavior in a dream.
During our recent studies, particular attention has been paid to the necessity for a healthful schedule and a decent amount of sleep for a productive and wholesome life. The effectiveness and duration of sleep are influenced by cultural practices and social standing in the community. Physiological features of the body can also predispose to sleep disturbances and cause unconscious destructive reactions. Sleep plays a significant role in a person’s life and must be carefully monitored for abnormalities daily.
Cartwright, R. (2004). Sleepwalking violence: A sleep disorder, a legal dilemma, and a psychological challenge. Am J Psychiatry, 161, 1149–1158. Web.
Kilius, E., Samson, D. R., Lew-Levy, S., Sarma, M. S., Patel, U. A., Ouamba, Y. R., Miegakanda, V., Gettler, L. T., & Boyette, A. H. (2021). Gender differences in BaYaka forager sleep-wake patterns in forest and village contexts. Scientific Reports, 11:13658. Web.
as little as 3 hours
Lovell, K., & Liszevski, C. (n.d.) Normal sleep patterns and sleep disorders.