The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences


Insomnia is a complaint that affects almost all Americans at some point throughout their lives. However, only chronic insomnia is truly a disorder. This type of insomnia can be caused by various reasons, whether physiological, molecular, or psychological. This paper will elaborate on a number of possible causes for insomnia. Furthermore, this paper will present some of the many adverse effects that are caused by the sleep deprivation resulting from chronic insomnia. There are many possible treatments available to help against insomnia. This paper will explain 53 some of the behavioral methods. In addition, it will discuss the many different medications that have been used or are still used to treat insomnia, including chloral hydrate, barbiturates, antihistamines, and antidepressants. This paper will show the benefits and risks of benzodiazepines, a class of drugs used to treat insomnia, as well as the benefits and risks or the benzodiazepine-like agents BZRAs. This paper will also mention the new EVT 201drug for insomnia that is currently undergoing testing for its efficacy and safety. In conclusion, this paper will show that each case of insomnia is unique and different, from its cause to its ramifications. Each case must be dealt with and treated individually. Most people spend about a quarter of their lives sleeping. That’s about forty-two hours a week, ninety-one days per year, and, in a lifetime of ninety years, over twenty of them will be spent asleep. Many think of this as wasted time; we cannot accomplish many things on out “To Do” lists while snoozing. However, sleep is an important and essential need of the body, and in fact one could not live long without it. Many restorative and healthy benefits take place during those hours of sleep, making sleep quite necessary for life. Various parts of the brain are responsible for or involved in sleep, and a few theories exist as to how we fall asleep. The generally accepted view today is that several parts of the brain are involved in sleep regulation. In some areas of the brain, neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine are produced by neurons in the brainstem and act on different groups of neurons. Whether we are asleep or awake depends on which neurons receive the signals. In other cases, neurons begin to signal only once we fall asleep. These activated neurons are believed to switch off the signals and keep us awake (NINDS ’04). One area of the brain involved in sleep regulation is the raphe’ nuclei which are located in a thin strip down the midline of the caudal reticular formation. It is believed that these nuclei promote sleep (Pinel ’03). The basal forebrain region and the nearby anterior hypothalamus are also thought to be instrumental in promoting sleep (Pinel ’03). Sites throughout the caudal reticular formation are thought to be responsible for controlling the major indices of REM sleep, the stage of sleep most physiologically similar to wakefulness. Different sites control different features of REM sleep, such as core muscle relaxation, cardiorespiratory changes, and rapid eye movements.



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