The human body undergoes different stages during sleep. There are three main stages, namely REM (rapid eye movement), deep sleep, and non-REM sleep. In non-REM sleep, the heart rate and pulse slow and muscles gradually relax. The total energy expenditure in the body also decreases. During REM, most of the body’s muscles are paralyzed to keep them from flailing in response to the content of your dreams. This is the stage in which you have the most vivid dreams.
Sleep is vital for the human body. Not only does it promote good health, but it also protects the body against diseases. Studies have shown that sleep improves your ability to fight off diseases, especially those caused by stress. It also helps you fight infections by making antibodies and immune cells that help fight off germs. Even if you’re not prone to getting sick, getting enough sleep can help you feel better when you’re awake.
While many people think that sleep is a passive activity, there’s much more to it than that. Sleep is an essential part of the body’s routine, occupying one-third of our time. Sleep helps our brain and body function properly, including forming and maintaining neural pathways. It also helps clear toxins in the brain.
Sleep disorders can have serious consequences. Restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and sleepwalking are just some of the conditions that negatively affect sleep. Restless leg syndrome causes frequent waking, while sleep apnea causes interruption of breathing and reduces restorative sleep. Other sleep disorders affect circadian rhythm and sleep architecture. Hypersomnia is a disorder that causes you to sleep too much and disrupts sleep patterns.
Research shows that a lack of sleep can lead to a host of health problems, including high blood pressure and depression. A lack of sleep can also reduce the body’s immunity. Without enough sleep, people are more susceptible to strokes, heart attacks, and migraines. Sleep also plays a major role in metabolism. Just one night of missed sleep can put you in a prediabetic state.
The modern lifestyle, including round-the-clock industries, can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm. Many people have to work at night and struggle to get a good night’s sleep. In addition, physical conditions, such as arthritis, backaches, pregnancy, and hormonal shifts can interfere with sleep. Many people also experience hot flashes and other symptoms related to menopause.
Sleep also contributes to the functioning of memory and learning. It enhances brain activity in the areas of the brain that control emotion. Melatonin increases in the brain after darkness falls, making people feel drowsy. Several other biological functions are synchronized with the sleep/wake cycle, including hormone secretion, blood pressure changes, and temperature.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you may need to see a doctor. Your doctor can recommend certain medication or prescribe a sleeping aid to help you get a restful night’s sleep. In addition to recommending medications, your doctor may recommend seeing a sleep specialist. A sleep study can help you identify whether your insomnia is caused by a medical condition.