How Does Wakefulness Influence Sleep Essay

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Sleep and Wakefulness

How Does Wakefulness Influence Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important components of good health, and successful night's sleep can be robbed in many ways. Because the sleep state is a fragile undertaking, events that happen during the day, issues during the night, and physiological actors all play a role. This paper discusses all of the factors related to how wakefulness affects sleep, and therapies that can be used to receive good sleep.

Sleep deprivation

Of course the main way that wakefulness affects sleep is that fact that the person is awake. Sleep deprivation can come through many agencies such as what a person ate or drank right before bed, how agitated they were, what type of work the person did during the day, and the atmosphere they are sleeping in (Ratcliff & Dingen, 2009). However, this section is more about how sleep deprivation affects the sleeper than the causes. Those will be discussed in the following sections.

Sleep deprivation is a major health risk because the body needs a specific amount of time to recharge before starting another day. People who are deprived of sleep are less attentive to their day, they are not as cognitively aware, and they have a much greater potential for having or causing serious accidents (Jensen, 2003). However, the most alarming problems associated with long-term sleep deprivation occur within the body itself.

When the body is in a rested state, the cells of the various bodily processes do not have the time that they need to properly regenerate. This means that organs are affected, the way a person thinks, and how the different processes (such as endocrine function) occur. Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to a much greater danger of heart disease, diabetes and stroke (Borbely & Tontoni, 1998). There is also a possible link to some cancers (Buysse, 2008). These physiological results of wakefulness can be devastating to the person, and if the process of wakefulness occurs for too long these changes can be irreversible. However, most of the time since sleep deprivation is a short-term problem it is easily solved, and the effects can be reversed. The issues can be as simple as where a person lives or works, or what they had to eat that day.

Where a person lives effects sleep

The body responds to many different stimuli when awake or asleep. Of course, when a person is awake, all of the senses are alive and the individual can be involved n many different activities at the same time. The person is smelling, hearing, tasting, seeing and touching at the same instant the different factors in the environment. However, when that individual is asleep, these senses shut down to a great degree so that he individual can get the rest that they need. Allowing that to happen is a key to getting a good night's rest.

When people lived in rural areas, there was little that would stimulate them through the night. Sounds were gentle, and the other senses were lulled by a general feeling of rest (Botzen & Rusu, 2010). Rural areas can be filled with the same types of stresses as urban areas, but researchers Botzen and Rusu found that living in a rural area was much more conducive to getting a good night's sleep because of the peace that the individual feels.

On the other hand, a person who is used to the stimulation of an urban area may have a hard time adjusting to the relative absence of stimulation that occurs in a rural environment. Basically what the research concluded was that people do seem to get better rest in a rural environment, but whether the person was wakeful or not was more a factor of what they were used to than other factors.


This may not seem to be a cause of sleeplessness and wakefulness, but there is a great deal of research that has concluded that brain activity at the point of sleep has a great deal to do with how restful a person's sleep will be. Erlacher and Schredl (2002) found that when a person is thinking about completing some task they are more likely to be restless and wakeful. This can mean any type of activity. Many times a person is thinking about some stressor such as monetary issues or family problems and they are more mentally agitated (Campbell, 2000). This is something that has been researched a great deal, and the findings are nearly universal. However, there has been much less research conducted with people who have just finished some cognitively involved physical process. This includes constructing something or using the creative process in general (Erlacher & Schredl, 2002). The reason for the wakefulness is that the persons brain was still very awake while they were trying to sleep. The individual was overthinking.

This can also be found when an individual is actually trying to decipher something complex (like a math problem) (Jensen, 2003). Many times people who have a highly technical job, or are engaged in some type intense study (college students) will not get good rest even if they are technically sleeping for the recommended amount of time. When the brain is working on a difficult problem, the individual is basically awake without the physical manifestations being there.


A person's job has a great deal to do with whether they will be able to sleep well at night or not (Humphries, 2009). Two things are at play here: physical and mental difficulty of the job. If the person has to use a lot of brain power for their job, then they will have the problems listed in the above section. However, having a job that is very physical may be even worse.

Physical strain is related to distress in many of the physiological systems (Clark, 1989). The fact that the body needs more time to repair usually does not affect the fact that the individual must go to work and continue to degrade those systems. This results in the individual being more 'sleepy' on the job, and thus many more accidents occur (Clark, 1989). This may be a function of the person not getting enough sleep time, or it may be a function of that individual not getting enough sleep time for the type of job that they perform.


The fact is that regular exercise is good for physical and mental health. A person who exercises regularly, and vigorously, can be seen to have improved sleep and restfulness (Dickman, 2002). However, proper exercise, for both level of fitness and age, are important. Anyone can overdo exercise because they want to see quicker results or they become obsessed with the results that they are seeing. But, this can actually lead to greater wakefulness and sleep deprivation (Dickman, 2002). Within certain constraints, exercise is one of the best ways that a person can improve the sleep that they are getting. However, it can be one of the most detrimental things a person can do if they are doing it wrong also (Grotstein, 2009). Because exercise tears the body down, and there must be rest before the body can rebuild itself, too much tearing down has a very negative effect. Also, the timing of the exercise is important for the best rest. A person should not conduct vigorous exercise right before they go to bed or they will be wakeful (Dickman, 2002).


Wakefulness, sleep and nutrition go hand in hand. What a person ingests is very essential to having good rest, and, again, timing of eating is also a big factor (Lavie, 2001). It is true, and research has born it out, that there are types of food which are conducive to good sleep and those which are conducive to wakefulness (Roehrs & Roth, 2001). It must also be realized that ingestion does not have to mean eating, it can also refer to what the person drinks before they go to bed. If a person is consuming a great deal of alcohol before they go to sleep, they will have sleep, but it will not be a restful sleep (Monk, Germain & Buysse, 2009). The alcohol causes an imbalance that the body cannot repair. The fact that the person is at rest actually only complicates the issue (Roehrs & Roth, 2001). The sleep cycle is interrupted by the fact that the person is experiencing a severe shortage of the nutrients that they need and they are most likely dehydrated.

Besides alcohol, people complain that eating foods that are highly spiced during preparation can make them restless during the night (Jensen, 2003). This is because these types of food increase the amount of acid in the person's stomach. This can be quelled with a few simple remedies, such as milk which is a soothing agent, but many people will not heed this advice and have a restless night.


Most would not think that this is a factor in the way people sleep. But, personality…[continue]

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