Chapter 7. (Unit 3: chapters 6,7,8). Sleep and Dreams. Have you ever been awakened suddenly from a deep sleep? How did you feel? What kind of dreams do you have? Did you ever try to figure out what they mean?
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(Unit 3: chapters 6,7,8)
Have you ever been awakened suddenly from a deep sleep? How did you feel? What kind of dreams do you have? Did you ever try to figure out what they mean?
This section discusses the stages of sleep, sleep disorders, and some theories about dreams.
Sleep is vital to mental health . Sleep is not unconsciousness. It is an altered state of consciousness in which certain patterns of brain activity occur. Consciousness is a state of awareness. People who are fully aware with their attention focused on something are conscious of that “something.” Altered states of consciousness, like sleep, are different levels of awareness. Researchers study sleep with and electroencephalograph (EEG) that records the electrical activity of the brain.
Some people believe that sleep is a time when the brain recovers from exhaustion and stress. Others believe we sleep to save energy, like hibernation. Some suggest that in earlier times, sleep was a way to keep humans out of harm’s way at night. Still others believe we sleep to clear our minds of useless information.
In Stage I sleep, your pulse slows and your muscles relax. Your breathing becomes uneven and your brain produces theta waves. In Stage II, your eyes roll slowly from side to side. In Stage III, delta waves sweep your brain. Stage IV is the deepest sleep. Large, regular delta waves indicate deep sleep. Talking out loud, sleepwalking,and bed-wetting may occur in this stage.
People usually spend three quarters of their sleep time in Stages I through IV. Rapid eye movements mark your entrance into a more active type of sleep called REMsleep. Your pulse and breathing become uneven. Often your face and fingers twitch and your arms and legs are paralyzed. Your brain waves are like those of a person who is awake. For this reason, REM sleep is called active sleep. Stages I through IV are sometimes called NREM (non-REM) or quiet sleep. Almost all dreaming occurs during REM sleep.
The amount of sleep you need is different at different stages. Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day. Sixteen-year-olds may sleep 10 or 11 hours. People 70 or older may need only 5 hours of sleep. Have you ever noticed that you are more alert at some times of the day than at others? A circadian rhythm is a pattern of activity and inactivity lasting approximately one day. Jet lag occurs when your internal circadian rhythms do not match the clock time. For example, when you travel from New York to Moscow, your body and your destination are on different time clocks. You may feel tired and confused.
Everyone has a sleepless night sometimes. People with insomnia, however, never get enough sleep to feel rested. Anxiety, depression, or taking too much alcohol or drugs can cause insomnia.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which people have trouble breathing while asleep. Snoring is a common symptom. The snoring is actually caused by something blocking the air passage during sleep.
Narcolepsy is a condition in which people suddenly fall asleep or feel very sleepy during the day. People with narcolepsy may have sleep attacks throughout the day. Other symptoms are dreamlike hallucinations or a feeling of temporary paralysis.
Nightmares occur during the dream phase of REM sleep. The sleeper awakens with a sharp memory of the dream. On the other hand, night terrors occur during Stage IV sleep. They involve screaming panic, or confusion. People usually have no momory of night terrors.
Sleepwalking is a disorder in which people walk or do other things while asleep with no memory of doing so. More children than adults sleepwalk, and most outgrow it. Sleep talking is also common and harmless. Most people do not remember talking in their sleep.
Everyone dreams, but most people remember few of their dreams. As the night wears on, dreams become longer and more dramatic. Dreams often take place in ordinary settings They include elements from everyday life mixed with fantasy. For example, the dreamer may wander through strange houses with endless doors. Sigmund Freud believed that dreams contain clues to thoughts the dreams contain clues to thoughts the dreamer is afraid to express when awake. Another researcher proposes that dreams allow people to address problems they faced during the day. A third theory is that dreams are a way of removing unneeded memories. Some believe dreams serve no purpose at all.
What do you do when you want to relax? Why do you think doing these things helps you relax? Do you think you could make your muscles relax if you tried?
In the last section, you learned about the altered states of consciousness called sleep and dreaming. This section discusses another altered state: hypnosis. You will also learn about how people can control their own body processes using biofeedback and meditation.
Surgery without pain-blocking drugs sounds like a trick but such operations have been done by hypnotizing the patient. Researchers are learning more about the connection between the mind and body. Doctors and therapists use hypnosis to help people quit smoking , lose weight, manage stress, and reduce pain.
Hypnosis is a form of altered consciousness in which people become highly suggestible. This means that the hypnotist can influence the person’s behavior and thoughts by offering suggestions. The hypnotist can help people become aware of things they have forgotten, or become unaware of things they usually notice. For example, hypnotized people may recall in detail incidents they had forgotten. Or, they may feel no pain when pricked with a needle. People cannot be aware of everything they are thinking or feeling at a given time. For example, you are probably not aware of the position of your feet until this reading called attention to it. By mentioning your feet, this reading shifted attention to your feet. Hypnosis shifts our awareness in the same way.
Hypnosis does not put the participant to sleep. A hypnotic trance is quite different from sleep. Hypnotized people are highly responsive. They can focus their attention on one small thing and ignore everything else. The hypnotist guides the participant into a trance by slowly persuading him or her to relax and lose interest in distractions.
The participants were not under the hypnotist’s control, but can be convinced to do things he or she might not normally do. The participant is cooperating with the hypnotist. Together, they try to solve a problem or learn more about how the participant’s mind works. Anyone can resist hypnosis by simply refusing to open his or her mind to it.
Some psychologists, like Theodore Barber, argue that hypnosis is not a special state of consciousness. If given instructions and told to try their hardest, people who are not hypnotized can do anything a hypnotized person can do. Other psychologists, like Ernest Hilgard, believe that there is something special about the hypnotic state. Hilgard believes that consciousness includes many different aspects that may become separated, or dissociated, during hypnosis. This view is called the neodissociation theory. Other psychologists believe that hypnotized participants behave as they do because they have accepted the role. They know that hypnotized people are supposed to do s they are told, and they just play this role. Whether hypnosis is a special state or not, it does reveal that people have abilities that they do not use.
A posthypnotic suggestion is a suggestion made during hypnosis that influences the participant’s behavior afterward. One thing hypnosis can do is block memory. For example, the hypnotist may suggest that, after waking, the participant will be unable to hear the word “psychology.” When the participant comes out of the trance, he or she may report that people around are speaking strangely. They seem to be leaving out words.
Hypnosis can also aid memory or help change unwanted behaviors, such as smoking or overeating. It can also reduce pain by reducing anxiety and encouraging relaxation. Therapists use hypnosis to help people become aware of their problems and look at their problems in new ways.
Biofeedback is a way that people can learn how to control their body processes with the help of feedback from a machine. For example, you can be hooked up to a biofeedback machine so that a light will go on every time your heart rate goes over 80. You could then learn to keep your heart rate below 80 by trying to keep the light off. People have used biofeedback to learn to control many physical responses, including brain waves, blood pressure, and skin temperature.
The basic principal of biofeedback is simple: feedback makes learning possible. Biofeedback machines tell people about very small changes in their bodies. These people can then experiment with different thoughts and feelings as they see how each affects their bodies. With time, they can learn to control their physical processes. In one study biofeedback helped the people learn to control headaches by relaxing a certain muscle.
Meditation is focusing attention on an image, thought, or object to clear your mind and relax. Researchers have shown that people can change their physical states using meditation. There are three approaches to meditation. Transcendental meditation involves repeating in your mind a sound, called a mantra. Mindfulness meditation focuses on the present moment. For example, you would focus on each body part as you slowly move your focus through your body from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. You would pay special attention to areas that cause pain. Breath meditation is concentrating on your breathing, the process of breathing in and out.
Researchers generally agree that people can benefit from some sort of relaxation exercise like meditation. Meditation has helped people lower their blood pressure, heart rates, and breathing rates.
Have you observed anyone under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs? How did he or she act? How do your friends feel about alcohol and drug use?
The last section discussed the uses of hypnosis, biofeedback, and meditation to help physical problems, such as stress and pain. In this section, you will learn about mind-altering drugs. You will learn what they do and why many are dangerous.
Marijuana is a serious threat to the health of young people. Parents must talk to their children about it. It is one of the psychoactive drugs. Psychoactive drugs are chemicals that affect the nervous system and result in altered consciousness. Psychoactive drugs include stimulants like caffeine in coffee and colas, and antidepressants, like alcohol. They also include powerful drugs that cause hallucinations, like LSD.
Marijuana produces an altered state of consciousness when smoked or eaten. Hashish is a related drug that is also made from the Indian hemp plant. The sale and possession of marijuana and hashish are against the law in most states.
The drug affects people in different ways. The effects seem to depend on the setting in which the drug is taken and the user’s past experience. In general, the drug heightens sensory experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant. If the user is psychologically unstable anyway, the drug can bring on mental illness.
Marijuana may not be physically addictive, although some researchers believe it is if used for a long time. It may also be psychologically addictive. Studies show that smoking marijuana may damage the lungs more than cigarettes do. Marijuana users hold the smoke in their lungs for 20 to 40 seconds, increasing the possibility of lung damage from tar and other chemicals. Marijuana users also have a harder time forming memories, making mental and physical tasks more difficult.
Hallucinations are perceptions of things that are not real. They are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling things that do not exist. Hallucinations can happen under normal conditions. People hallucinate when they’re dreaming or have not slept for a long time. For example, truck drivers on long hauls have reported swerving suddenly to avoid stalled cars that do not exist.
Hallucinations are similar from person to person. Hallucinations may be similar in different people because the drug affects the same places in everyone’s brain.
Hallucinogens are drugs that produce hallucinations. These drugs are also called psychedelic because they create a loss of contact with reality. LSD is the strongest hallucinogen. Many hallucinogens come from plants, but LSD does not. It is a synthetic (made rather than natural). An LSD trip can last 6 to 14 hours. During the trip, people can experience many perceptions. If they take the drug when they’re in a bad mood, afraid, or depressed, the experience can be terrifying. Hallucinations are common with LSD use.
Users may think that LSD helps them think more clearly, but it actually hinders thinking. Panic is a common reaction. Users have described their experience as being trapped in the panic and afraid they would never get out or would go mad. Flashbacks or reliving the experience can happen even months later.
Opiates are usually called narcotics. They include opium, morphine, and heroine. They produce a pleasurable state users have described as somewhere between wake and sleep. Opiates are physically addictive. An overdose can cause loss of control of breathing, resulting in death.
Alcohol is the most used mind-altering substance in the United States. Alcohol may seem to stimulate the body, but it actually slows normal brain functions. Alcohol is a depressant. People who drink alcohol often act without the self-control they normally apply to their behavior. People experience slurred speech, blurred vision, and poor judgment and memory. Drinking heavily over a long period can cause permanent damage to the brain and liver.
Drug abusers are people who regularly use illegal drugs or use legal drugs too much. Drug abuse has many dangers. It can cause injury or death from overdose or accident. It can damage a person’s health. It can get people in trouble with the law. The greatest risk, though, is loss of control. Drug abuse can turn into addiction. Addiction is an overwhelming desire to get and use drugs. Treatment for drug abuse involves three steps. First, abusers must admit they have a problem. Then they must enter a treatment program. Finally, they must resist the temptation to go back to the drugs. Support groups can also help abusers deal with temptation.