There are only a few things without which we cannot live: Air, Food, Water, and SLEEP (yes, and LOVE)! Sleep is a key element for our survival, but what exactly happens when we fall in Morpheus’s arms? And what is sleep anyway? Quiet simply, sleep is an important state in which our minds and bodies reduce activity and minimize awareness of our surroundings. The amount of sleep but also the quality is important. “Sleep is divided into two categories: REM and non-REM sleep. You begin the night in non-REM sleep followed by a brief period of REM sleep. The cycle continues throughout the night about every 90 minutes. Deep sleep occurs in the final stage of non-REM sleep” explains Healthline. The hectic world we live in seems to make it difficult for us to get the night’s rest we need. The fact is, we toss and turn more than we dream. Here, we explain why sleep is so important for body and mind. Also, read our article on 7 simple tips for better sleep.
1. Deep Sleep Helps Us To Process Information
When we rest deeply, we consolidate new memories: we have to forget some to gain others. According to a study referenced in the New York Times, during the day we take in a lot of information and our brain circuits become overloaded. At night, the brain “erases” some of this new information to make room for the next load.
2. Regulates Our Moods
We’ve all suffered from sleep deprivation at least once in our lives. According to Harvard University, less than 4.5 hours of sleep can make us angry, stressed, and even sad! Sometimes these symptoms can keep us from sleeping (e.g. stress), and keeping this vicious cycle going is very unhealthy. Most signs of sleep deprivation go away after a restful night’s sleep, but if they persist, it can greatly affect our mental health. It is believed that there is a connection between low serotonin levels, depression and insomnia. For some people it is a vicious circle. If you suffer from insomnia, we recommend that you see a doctor and get professional advice.
3. Detoxifies The Brain
The brain also needs to get rid of some toxins in order to function. This happens during deep sleep via the glymphatic system, where waste fluid is transported from the cells into the bloodstream to flush the brain.
4. Deep Sleep Supports Healthy Body Functions
When the brain is squeaky clean and ready, our body will soon follow. Before falling asleep, our body produces melatonin, which slows us down and prepares us for sleep. When we finally fall into a deep slumber, all of our organs and muscles can finally relax and rest. On the other hand, when we are awake, our body produces cortisol and other hormones due to stress to keep us active and awake. During the night, a hormonal shift takes place and the “daytime hormones” decrease while the production of other hormones begins. A perfect example of this is growth hormone, which is responsible for the overall maintenance of our body, growth and muscle repair.
5. Strengthening The Immune System
The body perceives inflammation as a threat. When our cardiovascular system is working overtime producing chemicals related to inflammation, our immune system is also working non-stop. This decreases its ability to fight diseases and viruses, and we are more vulnerable.
And vice versa, poor sleep can lead to:
As the body releases collagen during sleep, it helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines, giving us a much younger appearance. Therefore, lack of rest makes our skin dull, tired and prone to signs of aging.
When we sleep, our bodies require less energy and therefore fewer calories. The problem arises when we can’t sleep and the “hunger hormones” rise, tempting us to midnight fridge raids. In science, this means that insulin levels drop and blood sugar levels rise, slowing down our metabolism and making us gain weight.
With this pattern of looking for snacks in the middle of the night a potentially more dangerous threat emerges: diabetes. According the Sleep Foundation, the risk of type 2 diabetes increases when we don’t sleep enough at night.
Can affect our heart rate
While we sleep, our entire body, including our heart, slows down as we don’t need to be at full throttle. When we have poor, shallow sleep, our heart rate stays elevated, which also means elevated blood pressure and high levels of inflammatory substances, so our overall cardiovascular system is running at full speed.
There are some of the few things we know about sleep, and there are many theories we can’t prove. THE MAIN QUESTION IS: DO YOU FEEL WELL RESTED?
If you feel exhausted and you suffer from depression and/or insomnia, we recommend that you see a doctor and get professional advice.
Originally from Venezuela but based in Spain. Mafe is a marketing savvy, digital obsessed millennial that has Tiktok…very cliché. Mafe is always trying to learn something new to better herself to help others. Life mission: spread good vibes, be more conscious and grateful!