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Erica's paper

Created By: Daylen Gargalis
TracHave (One word?) you ever wondered if people who are high are realizing what harm they are doing to their body as well as there brain? Before this project, I had always thought the outcome of marijuana was used to only get someone high. After completing this project, I now realize that the effects of marijuana are much more than that. Marijuana has huge effects long and short term on the human brain as well as the human body. Abusers are choosing to take many risks when deciding to get high.  Research has proven that the use of marijuana negatively affects the human brain as well as the human body.


Marijuana comes from hemp flowers of the cannabis sativa that are shredded and dried.  You may not know the drug by its correct term, but maybe by its slang term. Maybe you know the drug by the name of weed, pot, or even Mary-Jane.The chemical found in marijuana is known as THC,delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. This chemical, is also known as a cannabinoid chemical (Bonoser 2013 12).THC can do much harm to the human body as well as the brain if the drug is abused. "Many first time users, smoke marijuana to experiment with it. When a user smokes marijuana, the THC chemical enters the lungs. Passing through the lungs, the THC enters the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the human brain (Millwork 2013 2)".  Majority of these people do not become addicted to the substance. When smokers do become addicted, it is rather easy for them to quit. Marijuana has a very limited amount of withdrawal symptoms, making the quitting process easier. (Gumbiner 2010 1,2).

Marijuana's short term side effects eventually wear off. They usually last for about 24 hours. Of course, the high you get from the Chemical THC What is it? wears off. After users smoke marijuana, the have the feeling of feeling relaxed.  They feel as if they have escaped all their problems. Some short term side affects that eventually wear of are as followed: feelings of intoxication, relaxation, altered perception of time and distance, intensified senses, laughter, talkativeness, a decrease in anxiety as well as alertness (Tracey 2013 7). Sleepiness as well as reddening of the eye can occur. Most users suddenly have a greater appetite. Users can loose sense of the time. There vision and hearing become affected. Using marijuana regularly, can lead to the use of other substances as the main way the user copes with life, making their chances of using another substances even higher than those who don't use the drug (anonymous 2013 9). Marijuana can also harm your immune system. It limits your body and can cause your body to be unable to fight off viruses as well as it diverse types of cells in the body. Because of this, your chances of screening out cancers cells and eliminate infectious diseases are very limited (annoymouse 2013 10).  Many short sentences

Marijuana also includes long-term side effects. Studies have proven, the lungs as well as heart rate was affected by frequent use. frequent users, have a high risk of affecting their immune system, heart, lungs, and reproductive system. New users, within the first 2 to 3 hours have a 20%-100% rise in heart rate.(Tracey 2012 1). When it comes to their reproductive system, in both men and woman hormones may be affected. It can even cause a delay in puberty for young men. For females, when marijuana has become a daily use or used multiple times, it can cause a disruption to our monthly menstrual cycles and eggs may not be released from our ovaries. (annoymouse 2013 8)."When men smoke marijuana they sperm count decreases massively. Decreased circulating testosterone levels come into play, as well. When females choose to smoke during their pregnancy, their babies weigh less, are shorter, and have smaller head circumferences at birth (Committee on Substance Abuse 2013 (journal 5)". When users smoke marijuana there eyes can dilate. This can cause colors to appear more intense.(Bonoser 2013 1).  Abusers are at risk for possible heart attack, heart failure, and even stroke.. When the smoke is inhaled, it goes to your lungs. This may cause lung cancer. One study had found that over an 8-year period, respiratory health had shown a greater decline among marijuana smokers than among tobacco users. When marijuana is smoked, 1/3 more tar is deposited into the respiratory tract compared to tobacco smoking (Tracy 2013 2).   When it comes to a users emotions, many of them become suicidal or very depressed.Weekly users, can double their risk of depression later on life. (annoymouse 2013 5).  Many frequent users also experience panic attacks.  Marijuana doesn't just affect your body and brain but limits your social life. "Many abusers are affected at school, work, with family issues, recreational and social activities. Impaired thinking occurs as well. (millwork 2013 8)". For many, school either becomes too difficult for them or they just don't care anymore. "Several studies have shown, workers whom smoke marijuana have an increase in absences and job turnovers. For example, a study among postal-workers found that employees who had tested positive for marijuana use on a pre-employment urine drug test, had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85 percent more injuries, and a 75 percent increase in absenteeism compared to those who have tested negative for marijuana use (annymouse 2013 3)". "Adults who smoked marijuana daily believed it helped them function better, improved self-awareness and improved relationships with others. However, researchers found that users were more willing to tolerate problems, suggesting that the drug served as a buffer for those who would rather avoid confronting problems than make changes that might increase their satisfaction with life. The study indicated that these subjects used marijuana to avoid dealing with their difficulties and the avoidance inevitably made their problems worse. Although users believed the drug enhanced understanding of themselves, it actually served as a barrier against self-awareness (annoymouse 2013 9)". Many short sentences. Combine some

Research has proven, the memory deficits following the use of marijuana are the major adverse effects of this widely abused drug. "Marijuana exprosure produces many long-term disruption on the human brain. The many memory deficits that are produced by the marijuana arise via interaction of the psychoactive component (Hoffman, Oz, Yang, Lichtman, Lupica 2013 2 )". A group of researches did an experiment to test the effects of Marijuana on the attention span of those who use the drug vs. those who do not use the drug. Before they had proceeded on with the experiment, MRIs were performed on the subjects. The results from the MRIs had shown decrease in grey matter but an increase in white matter. There was a smaller amount of whole grey matters.  Studies showed, that the marijuana users demonstrated an altered brain activation compared to the subjects who did not smoke marijuana. The brain regions that had a decrease in brain activation across both of the marijuana groups included the following: right lateral prefrontal, DMP, and medial cerebellar brain regions. The Cerebellum is involved in multiple attention requiring tasks. The researches conducted more testing on these individuals. The researches tested all the subjects urine. The subjects who had tested with positive urine had shown greater activation in the medial front regions, parietal regions, and the right medial cerebellum (Chang, Yakupov, Cloak, Ernst 2013 7)". "A good working short memory, is well needed to learn as well as to perform tasks that call for more than one and or even two steps (annoymouse 2013 11)". Studies have also shown, that those smoking the substance, people have shown the same lack of coordination and ability on a standard "drunk driver" test as do those who have had too much alcohol to drink (annoymouse 2013 12).
Another experiment had been performed, and new results had appeared."Researchers had experimented whether the age of use was related to the cumulative THC exposure What is it?. The findings had proven that the greater cumulative THC exospore lead to the lower brain activation in the medial cerebellum. The effects had turned out to be even more severe in the individuals whom had first  used the drug at a younger age, possibly in their teens or even younger (Chang, yakupov, Cloak, Ernst 2013 10 )". "The earlier teens do begin to smoke marijuana, the more likely they are to become dependent later on throughout life (annoymouse 2013 8)". Research has also shown, adolescents who choose to use marijuana are 104 times more likely to use cocaine compared to those who have never smoked marijuana before (Comitee On Substance Abuse 2013 7).

Inside your brain, you have cannaboid receptors that are found in the cerebellum. "It was not till the 1990s that cannabinoid receptors in the brain, responding to THC, were discovered (Tracy 2013 4)". "The cannabinoid receptors control your emotions, your mood, memory, thinking and much much more These cannaboid receptors are affected causing coordination, sensory perception, time perception, concentration, memory and pleasure to be out of whack. When marijuana is inhaled or smoked the THC flows into the bloodstream up to the cannabinoid receptors located in your brain.  "When THC comes into play, if overtakes the endocannabinoid system and this is when the high takes places. (millwork 2013 2)". "Research had shown that THC exerts all of its known central effects through the CB1 cannaboid receptor (Iversen 2013 1)". Another location of the cannaboid receptors are located in your immune system. (annoymouse 2013 4). "When the cannaboid receptors are harmed or disrupted, your short-term memory, coordination, learning and problem solving are harmed. (Bonoser 2013 8,9,10,11)". From the harmful chemical found in the substance, the gray matter found surrounding neurons begins to deter ate after a certain period of time. Many users start off at a young age, because of this many of their IQ levels drop. Marijuana abusers are also at high risk for schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression. THC affects your corpus collosum which controls your emotions. "Cannabinoid receptors are activated by a neurotransmitter called anandamide. Anandamide belongs to a group of chemicals called cannabinoids. THC is also a cannabinoid chemical. THC mimics the actions of anandamide, meaning that THC binds with cannabinoid receptors and activates neurons, which causes adverse effects on the mind and body (Bonoser 2013 12)". "High concentrations of cannabinoid receptors exist in the hippocampus, cerebellum and basal ganglia. The hippocampus is located within the temporal lobe and is important for short-term memory. When the THC binds with the cannabinoid receptors inside the hippocampus, it interferes with the recollection of recent events. THC also affects coordination, which is controlled by the cerebellum. The basal ganglia controls unconscious muscle movements, which is another reason why motor coordination is impaired when under the influence of marijuana (Bonoser 2013 13)". add What are some of these things are

When choosing to smoke marijuana, along with the side affects there are many risks your opting to take. You could have a huge decrease in your performance during your sports. This is caused by the powerful chemical THC. Your increasing your risk with getting in trouble with the law. Smoking marijuana is linked to increase in panic attacks. You could very easily do something that embarrasses yourself or even hurt you. For example, driving under the influence or even engaging into risky sexual behavior leading you to increase your chances of catching sexually transmitted diseases. You could loose interest in your appearance as well (annymouse 2013 1,2,3,4,6). When frequent users make the decision to quit, they face multiple withdrawals. They may crave the substance for long periods of times. They can have trouble sleeping. Another withdrawal may include a decrease in appetite. Luckily, overtime, these symptoms frequent users experience slowly go away within a couple weeks of quitting (Millwork 2013 12,14)"

So, the next time you go to smoke that joint remember the negative outcomes as well as the risks your taking. Is it worth endangering your cannaboid receptors, becoming at high risk for a possible heart attack or even possible stroke? Or the risk of becoming addicted. Always remember once addicted quitting is hard but is always an option. Take the road that's less traveled. Be smart and choose the correct thing to do. So the next time you go to smoke that joint, as yourself the following: If the short term side effect, the high, worth the long term effects on your brain and your body? A little jumbled up

Anonymous is spelled wrong.
As you mentioned, hyperlinks need to be fixed
You tend to just list off chemicals. Add an explaination of what they are

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Alberto's peer edit

Created By: Daylen Gargalis
Imagine one treatment to repair and reconstruct the body from illnesses such as Alzheimer's, preventing extinction of endangered species and maybe even cure aging. Scientists may have found a way to cure specific illnesses and failing organs by replacing organs and cloning cells, but of course there are many obstacles to surpass. There are many people that are against this type of research for many reasons, some even false and blocking the way for science to thrive. Stem cell research without a doubt makes you think for yourself, and has great, promising outcomes in the near future. Clarify thesis and plan.

 A) Backround info on stem cells
There are two types of stem cells and both are found in every living organism. Embryonic stem cells are are responsible for developing a mammal to maturity. Adult stem cells (which ones) are responsible for repairing the body after maturity. Both types are thought to be able to treat a great number of illnesses by pushing the body to repair itself (Anonymous B, 1). There are already some uses of these cells proven to benefit patients. When one has Leukemia a more advanced way of treating the illness is a transplant of bone marrow to help slow down the incapacitating condition of the patient. Also, researchers believe that cultivating stem cells can give more possibilities to the treatment of many other illnesses including patients with strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease (Anonymous B, 2). 

Although adult stem cells have proven very useful for some diseases, they have not been capable of producing as many cell types as embryonic stem cells (Weiss 2008, 1). On the other hand few question the ability of embryonic stem cells. Heart disease, the biggest killer in United States, may be cured with embryonic stem cells. They can be trained to grow into heart muscle cells that clump together and pulse in astonishing union. These cells have been tested with mice and pigs and when injected they fill in for injured or dead cells then speeding up recovery. Also studies have prompted a stem cells potential for curing other illnesses such as diabetes and spinal cord injury (Weiss 2008, 2). Explain more

 B)Effects on patients

This method of repairing the body seems very promising, although there is one big question which is, is there any risks on the patient. Some are worried because of animal research showing that in some cases embryonic stem cells form into tumors or may change into unwanted types of tissue. An example of the unwanted tissue would be the formation of bits of bone in for example a heart that the cells are supposedly repairing. Supporters respond to this saying that these occurrences are rare and much has been learned on how to prevent this, and of course as well as many other matters practice and study lead to perfection. (Weiss 2008, 3) Says "Their approaches vary, but on one point, all seem to agree: How humanity handles its control over the mysteries of embryo development will say a lot about who we are and what we're becoming." Also, others against this study say that it may easily cause cancer in patients(Anonymous B, 2). 

The greatest risk human cloning poses is on the health of babies born with this procedure if experimented with the technology we have today. Experiments with animals have shown that although the cloning of an animal is possible a great number of newly born animals die in early development stages or a short time after birth. Additionally a great part on these animals are born with defects. Other than unreliable claims, human cloning has never been performed but a big possibility is that human clones will likely have birth defects. One possible cause for these defects are external influences other than genes(Pedro 2012, 2).

 C)Evidence of cloning

Therapeutic engineering is part of the larger rising field of regenerative medicine. This also includes the extraction of stem cells from adult tissues and application to ill conditions. This method involves collecting cells from the patient, then creating cells capable of forming many types of cells, developing the cells for the appropriate type of tissue, multiplying these cells, and finally implanting these cells back into the body. This process also shows that there is a possibility of obtaining cells this way and replacing dying neurons to treat the illness Alzheimer's, and maybe even treat aging with stem cells. Also, it is possible to correct genetic errors in stem cells, therefore making new treatments for patients with genetic illnesses(Pedro 2012, 3). 

The beginnings of stem cell research can be traced back to 1963 in China when the late embryologist transferred DNA from a male Asian carp cell, a freshwater fish, to an egg of a female Asian carp. This process produced the worlds first cloned fish.researchers had cloned other organisms such as micro-organisms, nematodes and amphibians in previous decades but never an organism so complex as Dizhou Tong did. The experiment appeared to be entirely successful and even the cloned fish created a tiny carp. He continued his work and after 10 years Tong inserted the DNA of an Asian carp into the egg of a European crucian carp created the first interspecies clone. Based on this mans research Chinese scientists developed breeding methods so great that the nation now makes half of the world's agriculture harvest (Liao 2007, 2). Think about adding more sources

October 2011 is a day marked for the first stem cells created from human clones. Although these cells were not normal and wouldn't work in stem cell therapies because they had three sets of chromosomes, two from the adult cell and one extra from the egg, this still was a breakthrough and may lead the way to the treatments of so many promising treatments from these cells which is the dream of many scientists (Brown 2011, 1). Human embryos are the base of the stem cell studies which is why women are a great contribution in this field, although there are few donors and scientists are in great need for them. (Brown 2011) says "The authors' approach represents the first step towards acknowledging women as genuine participants -- co-producers even -- in the generation of new knowledge." On the other hand we need to find a way of obtaining embryos for studies another way that does not put young women at risk and may also help obtaining more embryos (Brown 2011, 4). Check the hyperlinks.
In 1997, Ian Wilmut and others at the Roslin Institute in Scotland invented a synthetic method of obtaining mammalian clones from mature animals therefore allowing asexual reproduction with mammals. A sheep named Dolly was the first mammal formed with this method although cloning had been done in other species including frogs. The basic concept of cloning  is removing the nucleus of the mother cell, then injecting the cell in an egg without a nucleus. Delicate cell conditions and at times electric shock allows the nucleus to come together with the egg to be inserted into the womb and generate a new organism in some cases. This method of cloning is called nuclear transfer and has been performed with many other species in recent years. With all of these organisms this method makes them have the same nuclear genome of the mother(Pedro 2012, 5). 

Nuclear transfer is already being put to good use. This method has been used in agriculture for cloning a disease-resistant bull that had died and cloning the Mouflon lamb  a member of an endangered species of sheep. The cloning of endangered species is a rising anticipation for conservation efforts (Pedro 2012, 1). It is possible to acquire stem cells from adults without the need of a blastocyst. However, these adult stem cells are less powerful and have more limited applications as embryonic stem cells do. Although the embryonic stem cells are the ideal one for research there may have recently emerged an alternative with a technique called pluripotency which allows adult stem cells to be transformed into pluripotent cells which are capable to develop several different cell types. Although this brings great excitement to scientists across the world this method is not yet proven to be safe for the clinic. 

 D)Evidence of obstacles 

Many oppose the research and experiments with stem cells for a number of reasons. This is where religion, politics, and the people argue over this topic and whether or not this should be allowed. There are many ideas over this topic for example one may say that stem cell research should be allowed but only to a certain extent not permitting human cloning but the regenerating of dead tissue and cells is allowed. Others have also related this idea to abortion but this is misleading for the reason that an individual is not destroyed to generate embryonic stem cells. The process uses a cellular mass known as a blastocyst which will not develop an individual. These misleading ideas are slowing down the research that one day may save the lives of thousands of people (Pedro 2012, 2). 

Some countries such as Germany have already prohibited some stem cell research worrying about unethical human experimentation. Other countries as well as the U.S. have set strict limits on the government funding of stem cell research although the private sector has been left to do as it wants. Other countries including China, U.K., Singapore and Korea have set out to become the center of activity for stem cell research, providing funds for the research and encouragement as well as boundaries (Weiss 2008, 4). China has recently been increasing its effort in stem cell research and practicing the field. A basic research part is the research of bone marrow and embryonic stem cells. Hospitals have recorded the application of stem cell treatment to illnesses such as heart failure, liver failure and lower limb ischaemia. what? Therefore, China is the most liberal and ideal environment for human embryonic stem cell research.(Liao 2007, 4).

However, the Chinese government is allowing research on human embryos and cloning to continue for therapeutic purposes. In 2001, committees from around China came together and suggested proper guidelines on human embryonic stem cell research. They banned buying and selling of human embryos for commercial purposes and reproductive human cloning which is what most nations banned. The establishment of a new organization was also proposed that centralizes the respectable research of stem cells in China. Human reproductive cloning was not permitted at all in these guidelines and on December 24,2003 these guidelines were enacted by the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Health in China (Liao 2007, 5)

There are also other obstacles that scientists encounter when studying stem cells outside of laws. Obtaining embryos is very difficult when one is not able to buy them from someone, and donors are very rare maybe even only having one per year. It is difficult to get donors when others are offering to pay for embryos for reproduction and of course people rather get paid for their embryos (Brown 2011, 2). The New York team that created the first stem cells from human clones had bought the embryos they used. To try and avoid any problems the group offered the donor $8,000 for the time and risk of the process and after let her decide whether to donate for reproduction or study. This was obviously more convincing for the women (Brown 2011, 3

E) Conclusion

Overall, stem cell research is shows how much we can improve our medicine and the promising scientific breakthroughs that this study has in store for us in the near future. With stem cells we may be able to heal all kinds of illnesses and maybe even cure aging. Scientists can not do all this by themselves in the circumstances right now so that's why we need your help. Step up and be part of this revolutionary study! Add more to conclusion

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Jessica's paper

Created By: Daylen Gargalis

"I sleep—for a while—two or three hours—then a dream—no—a nightmare seizes me in its grip . . . I sense it and I know it . . . and I am also aware that somebody is coming up to me, looking at me, running his fingers over me, climbing onto my bed, kneeling on my chest, taking me by the throat and squeezing . . . squeezing . . . with all its might, trying to strangle me. I struggle, but I am tied down by that dreadful feeling of helplessness that paralyzes us in our dreams. I want to cry out—but I can't. I want to move——I can't do it. I try, making terrible, strenuous efforts, gasping for breath, to turn on my side, to throw off this creature who is crushing me and choking me—but I can't! Then, suddenly, I wake up, panic-stricken, covered in sweat. I light a candle. I am alone." - Guy de Maupassant (Cheyne 2013, 7). Recent experiments have shown that activation of the neurotransmitters GABA and glycerine in REM sleep initiates motor atonia, which may still be intact while one is awake. This experience, known as sleep paralysis, can be horrifying. This essay will preview a brief background of sleep paralysis, causes of paralysis, formation of hallucinations, and possible treatments for sleep paralysis. It would be better to just say what you will do. Not say "this paper" or "this essay".


Sleep Paralysis is a temporary skeletal muscle paralysis that normally occurs when one is waking up, but may also occur as one is falling asleep (Cheyne and Pennycook 2013, 1, Anonymous 2012, 8). Muscle paralysis, or motor atonia, usually lasts a few minutes or even seconds, but one may feel as though they are paralyzed for hours as they are aware of their inability to speak or move. The only muscles able to move are the eyes and any non-voluntary muscles such as the diaphragm (DeGuzman et al. 2010, 5, Sharpless et al. 2011, 2).

Since one's eyes are fully functional (as they are controlled by the cranial nerves), one is aware of their physical surroundings and can often project their dreams into their rooms. Those experiences are called hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations, and occur in an estimated 20 percent of sleep paralysis episodes (Morton 2010, 6, 7). Hypnagogic hallucinations are those that occur as one falls asleep. In contrast, hypnopompic hallucination refer to those that take place as one wakes up (Cheyne 2013, 8). Considering that one feels vulnerable and sees paralysis as abnormal, hallucinations are often realistic and horrific (Anonymous 2012, 9). The hallucinations can be split into 3 categories: intruder, incubus, and vestibular-motor experiences.

"I suddenly could not move.... I heard two distinct voices: One was a demonic woman that said "we should have never let you get away from us"... I struggled and struggled and felt my mouth moving and calling my sister Rose... After what seemed like an eternity, the pressure suddenly left and I got up. I ran downstairs and asked Rose if she could hear me calling her name, she said No" (Anonymous 2007, 1).  Change to box format.

Hallucinations where visual, auditory, and tactile sensations contribute to strong feelings of the presence of another being in the room, such as the one described in the quote above, are known as intruder experiences (Cheyne and Pennycook 2013, 4). The victim may see a shadowy figure dash across the corner of their eye or may hear faint whispers along with nearing footsteps, but no creature truly invades their privacy.

Though the diaphragm is functioning properly, breathing is automatic and cannot be controlled by a victim of sleep paralysis. This may trick the victim into believing that they are suffocating (Cheyne 2013, 16). Incubus hallucinations involve feelings of intense chest pressure, suffocation, and near death experiences (Cheyne and Pennycook 2013, 5). These experiences are often called "old hag attacks" because one often sees a demonic figure, such as a witch, sitting on one's chest, as described in the quote by Guy de Maussipant (MacKinnon 2013, 2).Where's the quote? Think about adding it.

Vestbular-motor experiences are much less frightening than intruder and incubus because they focus on one's body instead of the sensed presence of a devilish creature (Cheyne and Girard 2008, 4). Vestibular-motor hallucinations consist of illusory movement experiences (IMEs) and out of body experiences (OBEs). IMEs include feelings of floating, flying, falling and motor hallucinations. Motor hallucinations are those in which one believes they moved a limb or even their whole body until they realize that they were paralyzed (Cheyne and Girard 2008, 13). According to an experiment in 2008, are more common than OBEs which involve seeing one's body from up above and alienation from one's body  (Cheyne and Girard 2008, 3, 8). 

Even after the brief period of extended motor atonia has worn off, one may suffer from post-episode distress (a lingering feeling of anxiety) (Anonymous 2012, 11). Scientists have uncovered a strong connection between fear and the intensity of the hallucinations to post-episode distress (Cheyne and Pennycook 2013, 13).

Sleep paralysis is quite common seeing that over 50 percent of the world population will undergo 1 or more episodes of sleep paralysis (Morton 2010, 1). Even then the experience is seemingly foreign and abnormal. For that reason, people often seek supernatural explanations and describe their hallucinatory incident as encounters with the devil, demons, and even aliens. Different cultures have different explanations for hallucinations. For example, Africans interpreted the episodes as acts of voodoo magic from zombies while Europeans often believed the evil creatures were witches (MacKinnon 2013, 3, 4). Supernatural beliefs about sleep paralysis date back to 1781 and further. In 1781, Henry Fuseli painted "the Nightmare" which represents sleep paralysis itself. "The Nightmare" portrays incubus hallucinations the portrait has a woman lying immobilized and a demon sitting on her chest as though trying to suffocate her (MacKinnon 2013, 1). Though not fully proven, some scientists believe that the vividness of an episode, among other factors, may push forth supernatural beliefs (Cheyne and Pennycook 2013, 15).


Sleep paralysis and its effects are widely known, but the causes of the episodes have only recently been studied. Have this as your topic sentence or add more

Sleep remains the primary cause of sleep paralysis. The sleep cycle is divided into 5 stages: 4 of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and 1 of rapid eye movement (REM). NREM is the period of sleep in which brain waves are slowed as the body regenerates and repairs itself; each of the 4 stages lasts for 5 to 15 minutes for a total of 90 minutes (Johnson 2012, 2, 6). As one drifts into stage 1 of NREM sleep, one experiences a falling sensation which may be followed by an abrupt muscle contraction (Johnson 2012, 3). While in stage 2 (light sleep), the body slowly adjusts to stages 3 and 4 of deep sleep (Johnson 2012, 4). The final stage is a 10 minute period of REM. As the cycle repeats itself, REM periods grow longer. REM is the stage of sleep in which dreams occur and, according to EEG recordings, brain waves are similar in speed to those during wakefulness ( Johnson 2012, 7).

The REM portion of one's sleep is where motor atonia occurs as a result of dreams. Within a dream, one is constantly moving, therefore one's central nervous system (CNS) is sending frequent motor instruction to the body (DeGuzman et al. 2010, 4). In order to prevent a person from reenacting their dream, signals sent from neurons to cells called nerve impulses must be blocked, thus paralyzing the person (Anonymous 2012, 2).

Nerve impulses occur in 5 steps: resting potential, action potential, repolarization, hyperpolarization, and the refractory period. A neuron is  in resting potential when it is polarized. During polarization, the neuron is not stimulated (Wiley 2013, 2). Polarized nerve cells contain potassium with a negative charge on the inside of the cell membrane and sodium with a positive charge on the outside (Wiley 2013, 3). When a stimulus is presented, the neuron's gated channels (channels in the membrane of a neuron that open and close) permits positive sodium ions to enter the cell turning the inside positive. This is called action potential (Wiley 2013, 4). Repolarization comes after the action potential as the cell membrane allows negative potassium ions to exit the cell (Wiley 2013, 5). Hyperpolarization then takes place as there are more potassium ions outside than there are sodium ions inside (Wiley 2013, 6). After the impulse passes through the neuron, potassium ions return inside and sodium ions return outside the cell in the final step called the refractory period (Wiley 2013, 7, 8).

In order for this process to take place, neurotransmitters (chemicals produced within neurons) are necessary to transport the impulse across synapses 
(Cherry 2013, 1, 5). As an inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) reduces neuron activity by blocking upcoming action potentials therefore stopping impulses (Wiley 2013, 9). The blockade formed by GABA, however, is not enough to paralyze a person. According to Patricia Brooks and John Peever (2012, 8), the inhibitory neurotransmitters glycerin and GABA must both block impulses in order to initiate REM motor atonia. 

Sometimes, GABA and glycerin continue to block nerve impulses even though it is no longer necessary. In other words, REM motor atonia extends into wakefulness therefore creating sleep paralysis episodes (Brooks and Peever 2012, 13).   

Neurologists were able to find the cause of sleep paralysis, but what induces hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations? James Cheyne and Todd Girard (2008, 6) suggest sleeping in the supine position (face up) is a general cause of hallucinations, but what happens within the brain to trigger such vivid experiences?

Though not all scientists agree, the amygdala is fundamental to conjure hallucinations during sleep paralysis. The amygdala (plural form amygdalae) are 2  small, almond-shaped masses of grey matter located inside the brain. The "threatactive vigallince system" as James Cheyne (2013, 3) calls it, is responsible for one's response to intense emotions (including fear) as well as remembering these emotions. Fear is a necessary part in both animal and human development because it allows the organism to detect danger (Cheyne 2013, 5). During sleep, the amygdala is heightened (Morton 2010, 8). As explained above, one feels as though they are defenseless during paralysis thus creating immense  fear within the victim. The amygdala interprets the fear and releases the hormone adrenaline (Takahashi 2008, 4). The abundance of adrenaline increases the heart and respiratory rates (Takahashi 2008, 5). Blood pressure in the brain also increases causing change the the visual and/or auditory cortex, creating a hallucination (Takahashi 2008, 6). In other words, a victim's eyes and/or ears respond to an absent stimulus. Also an effect of fear, the victim's pupils dilate, meaning the pupils widen to let more light in, and allow the person perceive threat (Takahashi 2008, 7).

Sleep paralysis has no known cure, but it can be treated. Understanding which groups of people are more susceptible to sleep paralysis helps when treating victims.

Possible factors that increase sleep paralysis susceptibility include depression, anxiety, and stress (Cheyne and Pennycook, 14). Antidepressants used to treat these personality disorders have also been found to control the severity of episodes.

Sleep paralysis is a known side effect of narcolepsy, a disorder in which people fall asleep in any given time. Regular ways of coping with narcolepsy has shown positive effects on managing sleep paralysis among narcoleptic patients. Narcolepsy can be controlled by taking regular naps throughout the day, engaging in regular exercise, and enforcing a healthy sleeping pattern (Anonymous 2012, 15).

Studies that show students are more prone to experience these brief episodes than the general population indicate stress and lack of sleep are potential inducers (Sharpless et al. 2011, 3). People should avoid stressful situations and receive the recommended amount of sleep for their age. Ways to improve sleep include creating a comfortable sleep environment, avoiding caffeine intake, and abandoning smoking habits. Regular exercise and healthy eating habits also contribute to more peaceful sleep (Anonymous 2012, 13).

Nationality plays a major role in susceptibility as well. Considering that people of African or Asian origin are more inclined to paralysis than those of Caucasian lineage, they should ensure that other factors that increase sleep paralysis susceptibility do not apply to them (Sharpless et al. 2011, 6). 


In conclusion, sleep paralysis is caused by sleep, hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations are formed by the amygdala, and treatments for sleep paralysis can be found by understanding susceptibility. Prolonged motor atonia created in REM sleep causes sleep paralysis episodes. Fear conjured by the amygdala causes rapid breathing and increased heart rate which forms hallucinations. Regular sleep and a healthy lifestyle are the main treatments.
Doesn't Mr. Pitts want two paragraphs?
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