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Treatment of sleep disorders in adults

  • Sue Wilson and David Nutt
Extract

One-third of our lives is spent asleep, but the reasons why we sleep are not yet fully understood. Sleep is a state of inactivity accompanied by a loss of awareness and a markedly reduced responsiveness to environmental stimuli. When a recording is made of an electroencephalogram (EEG) and other physiological variables such as muscle activity and eye movements during sleep (a technique called polysomnography) a pattern of sleep consisting of five different stages emerges. This pattern varies from person to person, but usually consists of four or five cycles of quiet sleep alternating with paradoxical (active) sleep, with longer periods of paradoxical sleep in the latter half of the night. A representation of these various stages over time is known as a hypnogram, and one of these derived from a normal control subject is shown in Figure 1. The quiet sleep is divided further into four stages, each with a characteristic EEG appearance, with progressive relaxation of the muscles and slower, more regular breathing as the deeper stages are reached. Most sleep in these deeper stages occurs in the first half of the night.

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BJPsych Advances
  • ISSN: 1355-5146
  • EISSN: 1472-1481
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-advances
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Treatment of sleep disorders in adults

  • Sue Wilson and David Nutt
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