Contrary to popular belief, sleep is not for the dead, it’s actually a really productive way to spend your time.
Falling asleep is slightly more complicated than having the sandman come blow sand in your face until you lose consciousness for 8 hours. The human body actually does crazy stuff while it’s asleep, even though it seems like it’s just totally bored and idle. Apparently, that’s why it’s important to get enough and why it hurts so bad everywhere when you don’t. Basically, while you’re sleeping, your body is working overtime to make sure you’re in tip top shape when you wake up.
There are two phases of sleep that your body cycles through: NREM and REM:
NREM-That’s non rapid eye movement sleep. It makes up around 75% of our sleep time, though REM gets all the glory. Stages 1-4 are NREM.
- Stage 1- The time between being awake and falling asleep, light sleep
- Stage 2- The onset of sleep, you stop giving a fuck about your surroundings, but your breathing and heart rate are regular, your body temperature drops (that’s why they say to sleep in a cool room).
- Stages 3 & 4- This is your deep and restorative sleep. Your blood pressure drops big time. Your breathing slows down. Your muscles relax and blood flows straight to them. Hormones are released (like ghrelin and leptin which regulate appetite). Stage 3 of sleep is where tissue growth and repair goes down. Energy restoration is underway and your immune system is revving it’s engine. You’re snoozing deeply, but your body is hard at work.
REM- The glorious rapid eye movement takes up about a quarter of your sleep time. It starts about 90 minutes into your sleep and then comes back every 90 minutes or so until you wake the fuck up. Each REM cycle increases in length throughout the night. Here are some of the goings on of REM sleep:
- Energy is going to your brain and also to your body.
- Daytime performance supported (I genuinely cannot figure out what that means, but I guess it’s a thing)
- Brain is active (this is where dreams happen)
- Eyes move around rapidly (so that’s where they get the name from), they dart back and forth
- Your body is relaxed and immobile, that’s why you typically don’t shriek or sneeze in your sleep.
Check back soon for a simple answers to sleep questions like “why the fuck am I sleepwalking?” and “Is lucid dreaming a real thing?”t
Information via The Sleep Foundation unless otherwise specified//Image via Shutterstock