Sleep is a fundamental, biological need. Our bodies need sleep in order to function. As an avid napper/sleeper, I often question if one could become addicted to sleep? Using anecdotal evidence, or evidence derived from personal experiences added together to come to a conclusion, I often see that my friends and I feel more inclined to take a nap or sleep after we have slept for a long time. Did our bodies become addicted to the feeling of rest? Is this possible?
After doing some research on the idea of sleep addiction, I found no hard scientific evidence for this idea. Though, I did find many threads on different forums where people made arguments against the idea of sleep addiction. PhoenixEnder, a user through a science forum, argued that there is no such way that someone could become addicted to a physical need. He or she compared sleep addiction to the idea of being addicted to gambling. In the psychology DSM, there are clear criteria and symptoms for this disorder. When trying to create, match, or find criteria for a sleep addiction, none were found. Particularly, one of PhoenixEnder’s strong points of his/her argument was the criteria of addiction listed as number 2. It stated the idea that a person would need to sleep more each night in order to achieve the same bodily reaction or response, such as the need to gamble more and more to reach the “high” created from the activity.
Dr. Neil Kline, a little bit more of a reliable source, who is a member of the American Sleep Association, also argued against the idea of sleep addiction. Similar to PhoenixEnder’s idea of sleep being a physical, biological need, Dr. Kline agreed that one could not become addicted to a biological need. He compared being addicted to sleep as being addicted to air.
But, honestly, his comparison made me question his argument.
As Dr. Kline compared an addiction to sleep with being addicted to air, a biological need, I thought about being addicted to food. Food is a biological need, and can be highly addictive. A scientific review of Nobel et al at UCLA, a study that found that people who were binging on carbohydrate-rich foods had a similar brain chemical as people who were addicted to drugs. The study also discovered that people who had this change in their brain makeup had physical cravings for food when stimulated by pictures, or environmental factors.
Although there are studies that possibly prove food addiction could be a true disorder, there needs to be a lot more research on the idea of sleep addiction. Both food and sleep are biological needs, so I am not sure I agree quite yet with PhoenixEnder and Dr. Kline’s arguments, because there is extensive evidence showing that another biological need can be just as addictive.
In order to test whether sleep can be addictive, one could possibly test the same way scientists tested whether food was addictive. In class, we learned about different types of studies and ways that scientists could conduct the. I am no scientist, but I tried to think of a way that the possibility of sleep addiction could be studied. An experimental study could be conducted, where a randomized group of people are observed for how long they sleep and possible brain changes that comes with different hours they sleep. The study would remain experimental versus observational because scientists would change the amount of hours a person sleeps, being the x variable, and would test for possible changes in the brain, being the y variable. The control group of people would sleep the “normal” amount of hours per night, and scientists would compare the manipulated group to the base images of the control group brains to see whether any changes occurred.