The Importance of Sleep
Getting enough sleep is incredibly important for your health. A full night’s sleep helps you stay healthy and can improve your memory. Sleep is also necessary for your emotional health, as it increases activity in parts of the brain that regulate emotion. This includes the amygdala, a part of the temporal lobe that controls the fear response. Research shows that getting enough sleep can reduce the risk of heart disease and other health issues.
While we are asleep, our bodies undergo a series of stages. The first is known as “light sleep,” and the last is called “deep sleep.” The light “N1” stage occurs first, and then the deepest, “N3” stage occurs next. During non-REM sleep, the brain becomes less responsive to the outside world. Thoughts and most other body functions slow down during this stage. The body spends half of the night in the “N2” stage, during which scientists believe the brain stores long-term memory.
The body is governed by a biological clock that regulates the timing of sleep. Throughout the day, a desire to sleep builds until it reaches a certain threshold. In a sense, the body cannot force us to eat when we’re hungry. But it can force us to sleep when we’re exhausted. If we’re exhausted, we might even engage in a series of micro-sleep episodes. And because it’s a natural reaction to fatigue, the body will eventually reach a point where we need to sleep.
Lack of sleep affects every part of the body. People who lack sleep are more prone to develop various health problems. Not getting enough sleep increases your risk for diabetes, seizures, and high blood pressure. Sleep also influences your immune system. Just one night of missing a full night’s sleep puts you in a pre-diabetic state. The body needs adequate sleep to maintain normal levels of insulin and other hormones. A lack of sleep also makes you more vulnerable to stroke and heart disease.
Lack of sleep disrupts brain function. It increases ghrelin and suppresses leptin, two hormones that are vital to our health. Sleep also helps the brain process information and eliminates toxins. Researchers spend many waking hours researching the processes of sleep and how it affects our mental and physical health. The research has helped us understand that the quality of our sleep can determine our health. So the next time you’re exhausted, make sure to get enough rest.
Dreams are another way that our brains organize information during sleep. The cortex, a part of the brain that organizes our consciousness, may try to interpret the random signals we receive during REM sleep. Thus, our brains may create a story out of the fragmented activity. It’s not entirely clear how dreams form, but they are common during REM sleep. They’re also known as night terrors. If you’re wondering what happens in our brain while we sleep, here are a few facts about the brains.