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
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
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.