Describe and Evaluate Lifespan Changes in Sleep

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Describe and evaluate lifespan changes in sleep (24 marks) As humans grow from infancy to old age, there are major changes in the amount and type of sleep that they experience. During infancy, babies tend to sleep about 16 hours a day, but their sleep is not continuous. They usually wake up every hour or so as a result of their sleep cycles being shorter than the adult 90-minute cycle. Infants have quiet and active sleep which are immature versions of SWS and REM sleep. There are differences between adult and infant sleep. At birth there is more active sleep than adult REM sleep; about half of infant sleep is spent in active sleep. As well as this, adults can usually go fairly directly into the state of deep sleep, whereas infants in the early months enter sleep through an initial period of light sleep. After 20 minutes or more they gradually enter deep sleep. By the age of 6 months a circadian rhythm is established and by the age of 1 year infants are usually sleeping mainly at night, with 1 or 2 naps during the day. The periods of deep sleep lengthen and there is a reduction in the amounts of active/REM sleep. Sleep patterns change during childhood and by the age of 5, children have EEG patterns that look like those of an adult but they are still sleeping more (around 12 hours a day) and having more REM activity (about 30% of total sleep time). Boys are also found to sleep slightly more than girls. As childhood progresses, the need for sleep decreases, but in adolescence it increases slightly, to around 9 or 10 hours a night. Circadian rhythms are also known to change which cause teenagers to feel naturally more awake later at night and have more difficulty getting up early (phase delay). A distinguishing feature of adolescent REM sleep is that in males it is sometimes accompanied by orgasm or ejaculation, which is significantly less likely at other ages.
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