Sleep is a natural process that affects nearly every part of the human body. During sleep, thousands of neurons in the brain switch from a waking to a sleeping state and send signals throughout the body. Sleep also reinforces the immune system and regulates metabolism. In addition, breathing slows down during non-REM sleep and increases during REM sleep.
The first three stages of sleep are known as non-REM sleep. These are the stages of light sleep where the heart rate slows, muscles relax, and the body temperature decreases. Stage 3 is where the body’s brain wave activity is the lowest and is essential for feeling refreshed and alert the next day. Although it is the most restful stage of sleep, the duration and quality of sleep vary a great deal.
REM sleep occurs 90 minutes after falling asleep. REM sleep involves rapid eye movement (REM), mixed-frequency brain waves, increased heart rate, and irregular breathing. During this stage, most of your dreaming occurs. Your muscles become temporarily paralyzed to prevent them from acting out your dreams. In older adults, however, the amount of time spent in REM sleep decreases. Non-REM sleep is essential for memory consolidation.
REM sleep begins with a signal from the pons that travels to the thalamus and then to the cerebral cortex. Once these signals are transmitted, neurons in the spinal cord are shut down, resulting in temporary paralysis of the limb muscles. REM sleep behavior disorder is a rare problem, but it can be dangerous.
Most people go through these stages of sleep three to five times during the night. The first REM stage may last only a few minutes, but each successive cycle becomes longer. REM sleep also helps us fight off diseases and repair our cells. This is important because sleep provides the body with important nutrients and hormones that allow us to function better when awake.
Sleep is essential for every part of the human body. Children are especially vulnerable to a lack of sleep, as their bodies are still developing. Lack of sleep can lead to difficult behaviors, low learning capacity, and poor eating habits. Likewise, inadequate sleep may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes.
Symptoms of a sleep disorder may include difficulty falling asleep, waking frequently, and being too tired to function during the day. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you seek medical advice from a sleep specialist. They can diagnose a sleep disorder and recommend a course of treatment. They may recommend certain medications to treat your symptoms.
The biological clock is responsible for regulating our sleep and waking cycles. It is controlled by circadian rhythms, which operate on a daily time scale. Our circadian rhythms are affected by the temperature of our environment. A warm bath and cool bedroom can help us sleep.