Why we sleep is still somewhat of a mystery. What doctors and scientist have discovered is what our bodies are capable and incapable of doing with and without sleep.
We are all aware of the way we feel after a good, uninterrupted night of sleep. We also know that we feel exhausted if we lie in bed awake, or are awakened several times during the night. If you understand why we sleep, it might help you find the time and methods that get you a good night’s rest.
In order to maintain good health, you need to eat, exercise, and sleep well. As long as a balance is maintained, you will have more energy, be alert, function to your best ability, and have a happy outlook on life.
“Work 8 hours, sleep 8 hours, and have 8 hours of fun”
While you are snoozing, you are nurturing body and brain development. With the proper amount of rest, your muscles, bones, and skin can both grow and repair themselves. You will be able to fight off illness more easily, concentrate, and absorb new concepts efficiently, and remember what you have just learned.
Most of us find it easier to go to bed after dark. Have you ever asked yourself why we sleep better at night? There is a good reason. Your brain produces and releases melatonin at night. This is a chemical that makes you drowsy, and that is why it is better to sleep in a bedroom that has no lights or television on.
Conversely, as the room brightens in the morning, the supply of melatonin cuts off and you wake up. That’s why our parents pulled back the curtains or opened the blinds to get us up for school when we were children! And that is why so many of us feel like we could sleep all day when it’s cloudy.
There are five stages in a normal sleep cycle; each lasting about ninety minutes. In stages 1 and 2 you fall into a light sleep, and are easily awakened. In stages 3 and 4 you fall into a deeper and more restful sleep, with slower, more even breathing. Stages 3 and 4 can be likened to refilling your gas tank, or refueling your body by replacing spent calories. Stage 5 is when your brain gets active and dreams occur.
The Energy Conservation Theory explains the need for complete rest as a time to reduce energy expenditure, and suggests that night is the most appropriate time to do so, since it is the most difficult time to procure food (obviously referring to farming, hunting, and scavenging).
It explains why we sleep; it has been proven that your metabolism goes down as much as ten per cent while at rest; reducing both your body temperature and the amount of calories needed, and giving your body the required time to restore what has been used up while you were awake.
When a person becomes sleep deprived, their bodies can not rest and restore its energy. People (and animals) will begin to eat more to supply their bodies with energy. Your body will start to experience microsleeps.
A microsleep in essentially a mini blackout where the brain shuts down automatically for 1 to 30 seconds no matter what the person is doing. The person experiencing them usually does not know they are happening. This becomes very dangerous for people in high risk jobs, and especially drivers.
When acute sleep deprivation becomes chronic, a person will experience memory problems, confusion, body and muscle aches, dry eyes and skin, loss of motor skills, depression, hand tremors, hallucination and if not treated, eventually death.