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Assignment: Sleep Deprivation Disorders and Drugs

Tiffany Nicole Cooper

University of Phoenix



Jwaundace Belcher

February 04, 2011

Assignment: Sleep Deprivation Disorders and Drugs

A time when I did not get enough sleep.

If I were to think back to a time when I was deprived of sleep, it would be last year (at this

time) when I was working at a hotel as the front desk clerk. I was working 12 hour shifts due to a

lot of the employees quitting. I was working from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Not only was my body trying

to use to not sleeping at night, and trying to sleep during the day, but I went from only working

eight hour shifts to working the twelve hour shifts. I had come home and feel asleep one morning

and because of a snow storm, my husband thought it best that we took my father to Dallas before

he was stuck here for longer. I had only slept about 2 ½ hours and I drove the whole way there in

the stormy weather. I had a 12 hour shift to work that night and the drive was 5 hours one way. I

came home and got about one more good hour of sleep before I had to go to work. I was


Mood, behavior, cognitive, and motor skills.

My mood was affected because I seemed to be more irritable and cranky. I was in a bad

mood to say in the least. My behavior seemed to be a little off since I was unable to react to

things as quickly as I normally could. My cognitive skills were slower than they usually were

due to the lack of sleep, as well as my motor skills. I could still do all the work required of me

while I was that sleepy, but I was unable to muster the strength to do anything extra. My

experience does coincide with the effects that are described in the text, but since the symptoms

have been known to be inconsistent, it makes it harder to know for a fact.

What are the effects of long-term sleep reduction?

Long-term sleep reduction can cause many different problems. Even if the person is only

getting three to four hours of sleep in a night, they can still suffer the effects of sleep deprivation.

There are three different consistent effects that have been associated with sleep deprivation; first,

people who show signs of sleep deprivation, tend to show an increase in sleepiness. They advise

that are sleepier and tend to fall asleep more quickly (if given the chance). Secondly, people who

suffer from sleep deprivation show disturbances of mood. And thirdly, people who suffer from

sleep deprivation perform poorly in vigilance (like listening, and responding to those tests.)

Common sleeping disorders and the possible drug remedies.

There are approximately 80 different types of sleep disorders, which about 70 million

Americans suffer from. Many sleeping disorders fall into two complementary categories;

insomnia and hypersomnia. Insomnia includes all disorders of initiating and maintaining sleep.

Hypersomnia includes all those disorders of excessive sleep or sleepiness. There is a third sleep

disorder category which involves all those disorders that are specifically related to REM-sleep


When it comes to insomnia, there are a few known causes like; iatrogenic (physician-

created), sleep apnea, nocturnal myoclonus, and even restless leg syndrome. I am most familiar

with restless leg syndrome because I was diagnosed with it about three years ago. I was

prescribed clonazephan. Iatrogenic is a physician created problem happens when a well-intended

physician prescribes benzodiazepines, which may help at first, but since the body is known to

build a tolerance to the drugs, and after a little while of taking the drugs, if the patient tries to

stop taking the medications, they will experience with-draw symptoms (which can include
insomnia.) A few types of hypersomnia would include; narcolepsy, cataplexy, sleep paralysis,

and hypnotic hallucinations.

There are two different types of drugs that help people with sleep disorders sleep. They fall

into two different classes; hypnotic and anti-hypnotic drugs. Hypnotic drugs like;

benzodiazepines (xanax, valium) are something I am very familiar with. While Xanax can be

prescribed for anxiety disorders (which is why I get them) they can are more often prescribed as

a hypnotic drug to help people sleep better. There are a few problems with prescribing these

medicines as chronic sleep aids because one’s body will build up a tolerance after some time,

they are highly addictive, it can cause insomnia, and it can distort the normal sleep patterns of a


The anti-hypnotic drugs fall into two classes as well; stimulants, and tricyclic

antidepressants. Both are known to increase the activity of catecholamine’s, by either blocking

their reuptake from the synapse, or increasing the release of different catecholamine’s like

norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine. Sometimes both blocking and increasing can happen

at the same time.

Regardless, I have learned that it is a very important part of our cycle. Without sleep, our

motor functions would decrease, along with our motor and cognitive skills. Our moods can

change and without sleep we can become depressed. It is most healthy for an adult to sleep 6 to 8

hours each night. It is easy to see why people who only get 3 to 4 hours of sleep can be so