Somnology


Definition - What does Somnology mean?

Somnology is the scientific study of biorhythms, the interrelationship between sleep stage cycles and homeostatic functions and processes, and consequent health effects that result from sleep deprivation and sleep disorders and their influence on individual and public health and safety. Medical research indicates that sleep is a physiological necessity, contributing to intracellular growth and repair, promoting mental acuity, replenishing energy levels, and processing and retaining information.

WorkplaceTesting explains Somnology

Circadian rhythm cycles represent the 24-hour sleep/wake cycle, the biochemical trigger to environmental cues from sunlight, prompting the regulation of melatonin necessary for sleep. Sleep stage cycles are characterized as non-rapid eye movement (NREM), with the corresponding subsets that include N1, N2, N3, N4, and rapid eye movement (REM), operating on an autonomous cycle where fluctuating bioelectric activity occurs. Light penetrates the eye, hinging on the interplay between photoreceptors in the retina, transmitting signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a bundle of neurons with its locus in the hypothalamus which is responsible for interpreting visual images. During the day, a chemical called adenosine accumulates in the blood, drawing on the body’s need for sleep where multiphase transitions from light sleep to delta wave sleep (deep sleep) and then REM sleep is consistent with regular sleep hygiene.

Sleep induces the physiological changes that coincide with each sleep phase including muscle contractions and light sleep intervals, (N1), deceleration of brainwave activity and absence of eye movement (N2), an alternating velocity of delta wave patterns (N3, N4), and dream sequences (REM). An interdisciplinary aspect of somnology covers sleep deprivation and sleep disorders including insomnia, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome (RLS), and sleep apnea. In diagnostic testing, a sleep technologist employs polysomnography (sleep study test) to gauge blood pressure levels, brainwave activity, heart rate, and respiration, observing anomalies that serve as telltale markers of a specific sleep disorder.

Somnology provides an essential framework for learning about the scientific nature of biorhythms coupled with sleep deprivation and sleep disorders that can undermine job performance.

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