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Sleeping: Dreams, Nightmares, and Night Terrors. Chemistry of the Brain & Chemicals.

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Rachel Soued

on 17 April 2015

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Transcript of Sleeping: Dreams, Nightmares, and Night Terrors. Chemistry of the Brain & Chemicals.

Sleeping: Dreams, Nightmares, and Night Terrors

Chemistry of the Brain & Chemicals
By Rachel Soued
While you're sleeping, Chemicals being released cause dreams, nightmares, and night terrors. The difference between nightmares and night terrors is:
a nightmare is a dream occurring during rapid eye movement ( REM) sleep that results in feelings of strong, terror, fear, distress, or extreme anxiety. This tends to occur later in the night and often wakes the sleeper, who is likely to remember the dream.
In a night terror, someone wakes up believing that they have been screaming ( wake up screaming) and sometimes may even act out the nightmares physically (violent sleep walking.) Night terrors usually only occurr within children but occassionaly in adults too.
The way you fall asleep is through the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA.
"Many chemicals can actually induce nightmares in a person. One substance is alcohol. Drinking too much can affect your sleep cycle greatly. A common myth about alcohol is that it helps a person to sleep more soundly through the night. While a moderate amount of alcohol can help a person to sleep, excessive drinking can actually lead to vivid dreams which, many times take form in nightmares. These nightmares usually occur near the end of your sleep cycle when the effect of alcohol has already worn off, The dreams are extraordinarily vivid because the brain is trying to make up for the lost REM phase that was pushed out of your earlier sleep hours due to being drunk and the long period of deep inactive sleep."
Sleeping is our 'standard' state. We should be sleeping all the time but we can not because our bodies secrete Acetylcholine and other chemicals that cause wakefulness. These chemicals decrease during the day making us tired at the end of the day. The Melatonin levels rise several hours before you sleep, overriding the other chemicals that were previously released to keep you awake.
There are specific chemicals in our bodies that contribute to our sleep patterns.
Serotonin ( Neurotransmitter) keeps parts of our brain active when we are awake. Serotonin is one of the important chemicals in our bodies that help impacts the sleep/wake cycle. Serotonin is produced by the pineal gland to make melatonin, the hormone that is directly related to good sleep. When melatonin is taken, it helps people with difficult sleep patterns get to sleep more quickly. However, excess melatonin levels can also lead to problems sleeping and other health issues.

Serotonin is the common name. A more scientific name for Serotonin would be " 5-hydroxytryptamin". (5 H-T)"
Serotonin is an Organic compound.
Molecular/ chemical formula for Serotonin: C1012N2O.
Molar Mass: 176.2151 g/mol
Cells in the suprachiasmatic nucleus contain receptors for melatonin, a hormone produced in a daily rhythm by the pineal gland, which is located in the brain between the two hemispheres. Levels of melatonin climb after dark and reduce after dawn. The hormone causes drowsiness in some people, and scientists believe its helps keep the sleep/wake cycle on track.

Melatonin is its common name. Its chemical name is " N-acetyl-5-methoxytrptamine.
Chemical family: Organic
Chemical Formula for Melatonin: CH16N2O2
Molar Mass: 232.27834 g/mol
Oxytocin (Neurohormone.) Oxytocin, in the body, effects sleep processes. Levels of oxytocin reach a peak around 5 hours after onset during REM sleep . Oxytocin Levels are also associated with stages of light sleep (Stage 2 of sleeping.) Dreams from Stage II are just as vivid as dreams from REM sleep. Oxytocin affects our social emotions in real life, and while we are asleep. " If OT influences social emotions in waking life there is no reason to believe it doesnt do so in dreams." Research has shown that sleep and dream recall varies a lot by social/relationship orientation and status. Persons with 'anxious' attachment styles enter sleep faster, sleep, longer and recall darker dreams and nightmares than persons with 'avoidant' orientations. Oxytocin levels and activity may be the items that connects social relationship in waking life and depictions of social relationships in dream."
Chemical formula: C43H66N12O12S2
Molar Mass: 1007.18734

*Oxytocin is an organic compound*
The next chemical is one of the more important chemicals associated with REM sleep patterns:


Acetylocholine neurons are associated cortical arousal (Increase in wave frequency) which is directly related to REM sleep. REM sleep begins in the Peribrachial (REM headquarters) area of the brain where Acetylcholine are called "cholinergic". These cholinergic cells project stimulation of some areas, causing behavioral arousal.

Chemical Formula: CH3COOCH2CH2N(CH3)3
Molar Mass: 146.2074 g/mol
Adenosine appears to accumulate in your bloodstream when you're awake and eventually makes you drowsy. Inside your brain, your adenosine levels exert a major influnence on the regulation of non-REM sleep, according to a 2008 study published in :Biochemical Pharmacology." The regulating effect occurs when an enzyme called adenosine deaminase breaks down, or metabolizes, adenosine molecules. The rate of this metabolism has an effect on the intensity and duration of slep when slow brain waves are present. Metabolism also reduces your brain's adenosine supplies, and your adenosine levels drop as sleep continues.

Chemical Formula : C10H16N5O13P3
Molar Mass: 507.18 g/mol
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