The Physiology of Sleep
The physiology of sleep is complex, undergoing changes in all aspects of the body. These include coordinated brain activity, hormone fluctuations, and relaxation of the musculature. While the exact purpose of sleep is not yet known, the process of sleep affects all aspects of physiology, from the brain to the intestines. Its contrast with wakefulness is most striking in higher vertebrates. The physiology of sleep and wakefulness are also marked by periodicity.
Sleep is essential for human health, and the biological processes it regulates are intricately linked. Sleeping regulates the body’s metabolism and reinforces the immune system. It is also an important part of our day-to-day lives. It is estimated that humans spend about one quarter to one-third of their lifetime in a deep state of sleep. Research is advancing on the role of sleep in our daily lives, and the biological processes that occur during this restful period are profound.
Adults need about seven hours of sleep per night to function optimally. Lack of sleep can have serious repercussions on your health. You’ll be less attentive, have lower cognitive function, experience mood changes, and have delayed reactions. Despite the numerous benefits of proper sleep, it’s important not to sacrifice your sleep. Instead, make sure you schedule a time for a nap each night. Your body will thank you later. If you’re able to find some time to nap, your energy levels will soar!
During sleep, different parts of the brain are active. During REM, activity in decision-making, emotional, and social areas decreases, which may contribute to optimal functioning while awake. In addition, research shows that repetitive nerve-signaling patterns occur during deep sleep, which may aid in encoding memories and learning. So, if you’re a video game player, sleep is vital for your learning. This can help you play better and improve your performance!
The duration of REM sleep varies by age. In children and adolescents, this stage of sleep constitutes about half of total sleep time. In adults, REM sleep is only 20 to 25 percent of total sleep time. By the time a person is in REM sleep, he or she has completed many important tasks. REM sleep produces hormones that help the body repair damaged cells and fight illnesses. And, it’s not all about dreaming!
REM sleep takes 90 to 110 minutes to complete. There are three stages of non-REM sleep: deep sleep, waking sleep, and dreaming sleep. For most people, the duration of each of these stages is five to ten minutes. The more time you spend in this stage of sleep, the more energy you’ll have. Your immune system will also be affected by it, which can lead to an increased risk of diseases. However, even a single night of missed sleep can lead to a pre-diabetic state.
Your body has an internal clock called the circadian rhythm. The body follows this 24-hour cycle to regulate growth and reproduction. This biological clock is also responsible for controlling when you are awake and asleep. It regulates the timing of these events according to the amount of sunlight and darkness around you. A warm bath or cool room can help you fall asleep. But what is the exact role of the circadian clock in your body? And how do you influence it? If your circadian rhythm is out of whack, you might have a sleep disorder.