While we are fast asleep our cells are busy doing essential repair work to keep our bodies healthy and systems running smoothly. Here's what's happening undercover of darkness...
- Breathing & heart rate slows in waves through the night - reaching their lowest in the deep sleep phase. Blood pressure also drops giving our circulatory system a well-earned break from having to work full tilt..
- Muscles gradually relax and the body’s total energy expenditure drops. During the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage, most muscles are paralyzed in a condition known as atonia. This keeps the legs and arms from flailing in response to dream content
- Eye muscles stay active. The darting of the eyes behind closed eyelids is the inspiration for the name rapid eye movement sleep
- Brain Activity alters in each wave of sleep. In the early parts of non-REM sleep, brain waves slow down considerably; however, in Stage 2 and Stage 3, there are numerous quick bursts of brain activity
- In REM sleep, brain activity accelerates, showing markedly different types of brain waves. Heightened brain activity is why REM sleep is known as the stage most associated with vivid dreaming
- Memories are stored. REM sleep is thought to enable critical cognitive abilities, including memory consolidation
- Hormone levels fluctuate. Sleep and the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, play an important role in regulating the production of numerous hormones including:
- Melatonin, which helps promote sleep
- Growth hormone, which supports bone and muscle development as well as metabolism
- Cortisol, which is part of the body’s stress response system
- Leptin and ghrelin, which help control appetite
Messed up sleep patterns means these systems can get knocked out of kilter. That's why a good night's sleep is so important for our mental and physical well-being
Source/Find out more at www.sleepfoundation.org