From the day you are born to the day you die your brain never stops working. While that gem came from the inside of a Chappies wrapper, turns out it’s pretty true. While you sleep, your brain is working tirelessly to fix irregularities in your body — anything from repairing blood vessels to balancing hormones. Sleep when you’re dead may be your weekend theme song, but in reality your body goes through some vital repairs during this much-needed downtime.
Sleep is essentially broken down into two phases: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). We sleep deepest during the NREM cycles, making up approximately 80% of our evening shut-eye.
While dreaming takes place during both sleep cycles, REM is known for our more vivid and emotional dreaming. This is awesome: it’s believed that this period gives our brains a safe space to practice dealing with emotions or situations, as well as an opportunity to release memories and process unwanted feelings. This is also the sleep phase where your muscles temporarily paralyse, preventing us from acting out our dreams (running into a wall) and allowing the cells to repair without any disruption.
While your body rests up in NREM, your brain sorts and stores through all the information it experienced in the day and turns short-term memories into long-term memories. This is also the time where your body releases the greatest amount of HGH, human growth hormone. Increasing growth of muscle tissue and regulating the metabolism.
Isn’t it amazing that during sleep your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and temperature all drop, and then return to normal when you wake up? When you are asleep your brain triggers hormones to be released to restore sore or damaged muscles and repair blood vessels. Extra oxygen is supplied to your muscles through increased blood supply, healing any minor injuries you faced in the day.
Without sleep you would die at the same rate as with starvation? Sleep plays a part in regulating appetite and weight, and controlling blood glucose levels. It also boosts the production of white blood cells, the key player in your immune system fighting off harmful substances or infections.
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