The Importance of Sleep
Sleep helps the body repair and regenerate itself. It also improves the immune system and helps the body to combat germs. In addition, getting adequate sleep is crucial for good mental and emotional health. Sleep strengthens brain regions that regulate emotions and memory. A recent study from Natural Neuroscience suggests that people can learn new behaviors while asleep.
Research on sleep has identified three stages of sleep. The first, known as the dream stage, occurs during the lightest part of the night and progresses to a deep sleep, called the “N3” phase. In the latter stage, the brain slows down and reduces its responsiveness to the external world. The second stage, the “N2” phase, is also important because it is when your body slows down and files away long-term memories.
Sleeping patterns also undergo changes throughout the human life cycle. There are two basic types of sleep: monophasic sleep and polyphasic sleep. Early in life, children have six to seven sleep periods, including naps during the day. Monophasic sleep, on the other hand, occurs throughout the entire day. During this stage, the overall brain activity slows down and displays a characteristic pattern of pulses, which are called “REM” waves.
Adults exhibit a gradual decline in slow-wave activity and the onset of NREM sleep. In children, the transition from NREM to REM sleep is gradual, with the NREM sleep substage extending for 70-90 minutes. Adults, however, spend most of their sleep in the NREM stage.
Experimental studies have also attempted to define sleep by examining specific physiological changes. These changes have been associated with recurring periods of inactivity, and have been linked to electroencephalogram patterns. Although these patterns are not definitive in identifying sleep, they can help to distinguish between sleep and wakefulness. These studies have also revealed the differences between individuals’ sleep patterns and life spans.
Getting adequate sleep is as important for optimal health as proper diet and regular exercise. Unfortunately, modern life does not always embrace the necessity of sleep, which means it is important to make an effort to get the rest that your body requires regularly. Sleep helps your body sort out information and replaces chemicals that inhibit proper functioning. A lack of sleep affects how we think, concentrate, and feel.
Our body’s internal clock controls the amount of sleep we get each night. This clock, called the circadian rhythm, works on a daily time scale. As we age, our body’s circadian rhythm begins to shift. This means that our body is ready for sleep at different times of the day. For this reason, many children and adolescents experience a decrease in sleep on weekdays and increased sleep on weekends.
During sleep, parts of the brain are active. During this time, our bodies regenerate cells and fight off illnesses. Additionally, during this time, our body’s temperature and heart rate will lower in order to conserve energy. Getting enough sleep is important for enhancing brain function and recovery from illness.