Restoration Function of Sleep Essay

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Outline and evaluate restoration explanations of the functions of sleep (4 marks + 16 marks) Oswald proposes that every stage of sleep is essential for restoration. Stages 1-4 of Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) aid body repair- physical restoration, and REM sleep aid brain recovery- physical and psychological restoration. During SWS, growth hormones are stimulated, which are important in childhood and adulthood as it enables protein synthesis and growth to occur. This is necessary because body tissue and proteins must be constantly renewed, therefore suggests the function of SWS is physical restoration. On the other hand, Horne (1988) extends Oswald’s theory. He suggests that sleep is divided into core sleep (REM and SWS) and optional sleep. He suggests that brain restoration and repair take place during core sleep and bodily restoration occurs during optional sleep. This therefore suggests that stages 1-3 of sleep serve no restorative function. Equally, REM is also important in the functions of sleep. This is shown through new-born babies spending 8 hours of their day REM sleep which is higher than any other age group in humans; i.e. babies have around 4 hours a day in REM whereas adults have around 2 hours a day. This is due to humans being born ‘immature’ (not born with neurotransmitter connections in brain) thus requiring rapid brain growth. Animals that are born mature, like dolphins never sleep in REM because they don’t need this brain growth, illustrating a link between neural development and restoration and REM sleep. This is supported by Siegal et al who found that REM sleep allows a break in neurotransmitter activity, to help regain their sensitivity ready for growth, which therefore highlights the restorative effects of sleep. If sleep has a restorative function, then deprivation of sleep should have measurable consequences; research has tested this.
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