The pineal gland is the section of the brain responsible for melatonin synthesis and secretion. The pineal gland regulates our sleep-wake cycle with the help of a lot of different hormones and receptors, one being adenosine, which mediate sleep-wake regulation by controlling an individual’s urge to sleep. Adenosine is also shown to have an antidepressant effect and can enhance performance levels for some (Elmenhorst et al., 2017).  With a prolonged wake period (and, subsequently, an increase in adenosine receptor density), subjects may find that their cognitive performance does not fluctuate after a certain threshold, as well as experience temporary therapeutic effects of sleep deprivation on their depressive symptoms. In turn, when sleep deprived, these individuals may see the world in “a bit more color”, due to their lessened perception of their depressive symptoms (and, most likely, their delirium). Upon completing their 14-hour session of recovery sleep, subject adenosine receptor density/cognitive performance, and depressive symptoms (if applicable) all returned to the control level.  In turn, the previous vivification of the surrounding world dissipates, and the individual is back to their normal state of being.

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  1. Razan completed her project on the subject of the brain. The objective covered here was to identify the main structures of the brain and their functions. Her artwork shows the brain after fifty two hours of sleep deprivation (upper photo) and then the brain after a fourteen hour period of sleep recovery (lower photo). The pineal gland, to be specific, is what this topic mainly focuses on.

    The pineal gland is located within the brain and it is responsible for creating and secreting melatonin. Melatonin is important for us because it helps regulate our body’s sleep-wake cycle. Adenosine, a receptor that helps the pineal gland regulate sleep-wake cycles, helps control one’s urge to sleep. When drinking caffeinated beverages, these receptors are being stimulated by the caffeine.

    Research shows that the effects of sleep deprivation over a prolonged period of time will differ from person to person. A study was conducted that had participants stay awake for a 52 hour stretch and not use any caffeine products to assist them, their brains were then scanned at the end of that period. Throughout the experiment they were tested with activities to measure brain performance, some had minor decreases but many showed big lapses. The adenosine receptors were at an increase during this time.

    After the participants slept (recovery sleep) for fourteen hours, their adenosine and cognitive functions returned to normal. After long wake periods the pineal gland loses control of the sleep-wake cycle, but after recovery sleep occurs it regains control.

    Rylee Kingry

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