Sleep takes 23 years of life from a 70-year-old per­son, that is, we spend a third of our exis­tence in obliv­ion — a state when we can­not con­trol our­selves and our actions. While the mus­cles remain motion­less, the brain con­tin­ues to work — to ana­lyze the infor­ma­tion received, process it and decide what to do with it next. What amaz­ing things hap­pen to us while on vaca­tion?

We experience several stages of sleep

We experience several stages of sleep

Our brain shows dif­fer­ent activ­i­ty through­out the night, caus­ing the appear­ance and change of phas­es of sleep. At the stage of non-REM sleep, the dura­tion of which varies between 5 and 10 min­utes, a per­son begins, as they say, to “doze off”. He is still aware of what is hap­pen­ing to him and par­tial­ly con­trols his actions, but grad­u­al­ly falls more and more into obliv­ion. Then comes the turn of the sec­ond stage — a shal­low light sleep, when con­scious­ness turns off, the heart rate slows down, the body tem­per­a­ture drops, but a per­son can still be brought back to real­i­ty quite eas­i­ly.

It takes anoth­er 30–45 min­utes for the third and fourth stages, and the sleep­er again finds him­self in the sec­ond stage, which is replaced by the so-called REM sleep. Dur­ing this inter­val, brain activ­i­ty is sim­i­lar to the usu­al dai­ly activ­i­ty. The human eye­balls car­ry out chaot­ic move­ments, but the mus­cles are absolute­ly motion­less. It is at this phase that we see dreams, and if a per­son is stirred up at this moment, he will eas­i­ly repro­duce the pic­ture of his vir­tu­al real­i­ty.

The brain remembers information

In the course of numer­ous exper­i­ments, it has been proven that dur­ing the phase of slow sleep, the received data is processed, deposit­ed in long-term mem­o­ry, which helps to con­sol­i­date the acquired knowl­edge and skills. This is where the sign of putting the text­book under the pil­low before the exam came from. Instead of cram­ming all night, expe­ri­enced peo­ple advise you to care­ful­ly read the mate­r­i­al and go to bed ear­ly so that the brain has time to absorb the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion.

Muscle paralysis during sleep

Of course, there are excep­tions to any rule, suf­fice it to cite the exam­ple of the so-called “sleep­walk­ers” who walk in their sleep and per­form oth­er actions famil­iar to the wak­ing state. But in the body of an absolute­ly healthy per­son, the neu­rons respon­si­ble for move­ment also “sleep” at night. Under such con­di­tions, a person’s night­ly rest becomes com­plete­ly safe and pain­less, because oth­er­wise the sleep­er could push, kick and repro­duce oth­er actions from his dreams.

Sep­a­rate­ly, it is worth talk­ing about such a thing as sleep paral­y­sis. He is cred­it­ed with a mys­ti­cal and myth­i­cal nature, asso­ci­at­ed with fic­tion­al char­ac­ters — demons, brown­ies and genies, and all because of the hal­lu­ci­na­tions he caus­es, asso­ci­at­ed with a feel­ing of fear and hor­ror, the pres­ence of some­one else near­by — fright­en­ing and hos­tile. In fact, we are talk­ing about a state that is the oppo­site of som­nam­bu­lism. If in sleep­walk­ers the mus­cles do not par­a­lyze dur­ing sleep, then in those suf­fer­ing from sleep paral­y­sis they cease to func­tion even before falling asleep or some time after wak­ing up. Such a tran­si­tion­al state between sleep and real­i­ty was expe­ri­enced at least once in their lives by 7% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

The brain replenishes energy reserves

It is dur­ing the phase of slow sleep in the body that ener­gy costs are restored. That is why it is so impor­tant to get enough sleep, stay­ing in the king­dom of Mor­pheus for 7 — 8 hours a day, although every­one has their own time, depend­ing on age, gen­der, lifestyle and oth­er fac­tors. In addi­tion to lethar­gy, drowsi­ness, decreased per­for­mance, a per­son feels oth­er neg­a­tive con­se­quences of lack of sleep. It has been proven that sleep dis­tur­bances increase the amount of the hunger hor­mone ghre­lin in the body and reduce the con­cen­tra­tion of lep­tin, which is respon­si­ble for sati­ety. As a result, a per­son­’s appetite increas­es, and with it, the num­ber of calo­ries con­sumed per day, as well as weight, increas­es.

Most meta­bol­ic process­es are sub­ject to the dai­ly rhythm and for their nor­mal course qual­i­ty sleep is required. Lack of sleep, prob­lems with falling asleep, light sleep, dif­fi­cul­ties with get­ting up in the morn­ing pro­voke headaches, weight gain, loss of strength, heart attacks, strokes and oth­er patholo­gies of the heart and blood ves­sels.

Responsible decisions are made in a dream

Responsible decisions are made in a dream

The phrase “the morn­ing is wis­er than the evening” was heard by every­one in child­hood from Russ­ian fairy tales. It fol­lows that our ances­tors knew hun­dreds of years ago that dur­ing sleep, the brain process­es com­plex prob­lems and seeks solu­tions to them. So the famous Scar­lett O’Hara knew what she was doing when she said: “I’ll think about this tomor­row.” More­over, a night’s rest makes it pos­si­ble to real­ize sub­con­scious mod­els of expect­ed events and expe­ri­ence in the world of dreams what can­not be expe­ri­enced in real­i­ty. As a result, a per­son wakes up with a strong feel­ing that every­thing he was wait­ing for and feared has already hap­pened, and lets go of the sit­u­a­tion.

Sci­en­tists from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley have also dis­cov­ered the cre­ative poten­tial of sleep. So, the infor­ma­tion and infor­ma­tion received dur­ing wake­ful­ness at first is not inter­pret­ed by the brain in any way, and in a dream the main organ of the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem can already calm­ly think every­thing over, estab­lish cause-and-effect rela­tion­ships and find the most suc­cess­ful and cre­ative solu­tion. The same applies to infor­ma­tion about motor skills. If you want to learn how to dance, sing or play golf, then you just have to get enough sleep so that you have a new skill as soon as pos­si­ble.

To prolong youth, you need a good sleep

The reg­u­la­tor of the cir­ca­di­an rhythm of all liv­ing organ­isms is mela­tonin, the main hor­mone of the pineal gland. Its pro­duc­tion is sub­ject to a dai­ly rhythm: at night, the con­cen­tra­tion of the hor­mone increas­es, and with the advent of the morn­ing it decreas­es. This same mela­tonin deter­mines the course of many process­es in the body. So, it reg­u­lates the func­tion of the endocrine sys­tem and blood pres­sure, deter­mines phys­i­cal and intel­lec­tu­al activ­i­ty, is respon­si­ble for the func­tion­ing of the immune sys­tem, as well as pro­long­ing our youth.

There­fore, every­one who wants to feel good until old age, main­tain good phys­i­cal shape and intel­li­gence, look young and attrac­tive, needs to get enough sleep reg­u­lar­ly. And the word “reg­u­lar­ly” has a key mean­ing here. Those who sleep less than they should dur­ing five work­ing days, but get theirs on the week­end, are very much at risk. Accord­ing to Swedish sci­en­tists, their risk of ear­ly death is no high­er than that of those who get enough sleep every day, but high­er lev­els of cho­les­terol, pres­sure, and oth­er indi­ca­tors of the health of the body are not up to par. Well, for any prob­lems, be it insom­nia or sleep paral­y­sis, it is bet­ter to seek help from spe­cial­ists.


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