Discuss the Disruption of Biological Rhythms

Topics: Sleep, Circadian rhythm, Circadian rhythms Pages: 3 (1149 words) Published: April 18, 2013
Discuss the disruption of biological rhythms 24m

One example of disruption of biological rhythms is due to shift work and shift lag. This disrupts your sleeping pattern because it means you are required to be alert at night, so need to sleep during the day. This reverses and disrupts your circadian rhythm, becoming desynchronised where it is no longer entrained by EZ’s. There are many consequences of desynchronisation such as sleep deprivation. Shift workers find it hard to sleep during the day because of the EZ’s such as light and sound disturbances that keep you awake. This means shift workers find it even more difficult to stay awake at night time because they have had a poor quality daytime sleep. This then affects their alertness. Night workers often experience a circadian ‘trough’ of decreased alertness during their shifts. For example Boivin found that cortisol levels are at their lowest between 12 and 4am, which is the primetime a night worker, would be working. This means they have low alertness and decreases the efficiency of their job. There are also many effects on health due to shift work. A significant relationship has been found between shift work and organ disease. For example, Knutsson found that people who worked shift work for more than 15 years were likely to develop heart disease than a non-shift worker. This may be due to the direct effect of desynchronisation in the circadian rhythm.

Jet lag is another example of how biological rhythms can be adjusted, but their effects are found to temporary, as travelling happens once in a while, whereas shift work may be somebody’s job which they have to be doing constantly every day. However, our biological rhythms are not equipped to cope with sudden and large changes in our rhythms. It has been found that they need approx. 1 day to adjust as each time zone is crossed. This is because the dorsal portion of the SCN needs several cycles to fully resynchronise, as it is less sensitive to light....
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