Future of us
The Science Behind Sleep
By- Riya Patel
What is sleep?
Have you ever wondered what happens to our brain and body when we’re asleep? How do we wake up randomly? How do we sleep for that many hours? Well, I have. Sleep is a state where your acknowledgment of environmental stimuli is diminished. Nerve signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters run whether we are asleep or awake by acting on different groups of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain. Neurons in the brainstem, which connect the brain with the spinal cord, create neurotransmitters such as serotonin that keep some parts of the brain active while we’re awake. Other neurons of the brain begin signaling when we fall asleep. These neurons materialize and emerge to turn off the signals that keep us awake. Studies and research also indicate that a chemical called adenosine builds up in our blood while we are awake and causes sleepiness and drowsiness. This chemical eventually breaks down while we sleep.
What are the stages of sleep?
There are known to be five stages of sleep. Stages one to three are known to be non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, known as silent sleep. Stage four is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, also known as paradoxical sleep. NREM stage one consists of transition periods between wakefulness and sleep which usually last around 5-10 minutes. NREM stage two is when the body temperature drops and your heart rate begins to get slower. Your brain also begins to produce sleep sounds and this stage usually lasts approximately 20 minutes. NREM stages three and four are when your muscles relax, causing your blood pressure and breathing rate to drop., This is also when the deepest sleep occurs. Lastly, REM stage five is when the brain becomes more active, your body becomes relaxed and immobilized, and dreams start occurring producing that rapid eye movement.
What happens to our brain when we’re slumped?
As the brain starts to unwind and calm down, it ignites the alpha waves. When this transition happens in deep sleep, you may sense strange and realistic sensations, known as hypnagogic hallucinations. Some examples are the feeling of falling or hearing someone call your name. It's frightening when this occurs because you're less aware of your surroundings. The brain also begins to create bursts of accelerated, steady brain wave activity known as sleep spindles. They are known to be a feature of memory comprehension, also known as when your brain collects, processes, and filters new memories you seized the day before.
What's the best position to sleep in and how many hours should you sleep?
The top 3 best positions to sleep in are flat on your back, fetal position, and sleeping on your side. Sleeping on your back gives you the most health benefits and protects your spine, while also relieving hip and knee pain. The fetal position is great for your lower back or if you're pregnant, and it's also known to help reduce snoring. Sleeping on your side also helps reduce snoring, but it's also great for your digestion and could even reduce heartburn. The worst, but most comfortable position to sleep in would be laying on your stomach. It's known to add a lot of unnecessary pain to muscles and joints. This is why you might end up waking up sore and tired. As for the amount of sleep, humans over 65 should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night and adults should get between 7 to 9. Babies, kids, and teens need even more sleep for their growth and development.