Although the exact reasons why we need to sleep are not fully understood, research indicates that folks are able
to live much longer without food than they can without sleep. Along with human beings, every mammal, reptile and
bird needs sleep as well. Whilst the precise reasons why sleep is important continue to be a mystery, it is known
that while sleeping most of the body's major organ and regulatory systems continue to actively function. In fact,
certain parts of the brain increase their activity significantly and your body produces more of particular
hormones. Nobody understands the reason why we sleep although various scientific theories have been put forward.
Several experts have suggested that we might sleep due to sheer habit, without any biological basis.
Effect of Sleep on the Brain
Sleep could be a period for the brain to recharge. While asleep, the brain shuts down and repairs neurons and
exercises synapses that could gradually break down and weaken with insufficient activity. This might be a period
for fine tuning the synaptic connections which get stronger, weaken, break and change. The theory is that sleep is
a chance to change those synaptic connections back to their original design after becoming muddled up through the
Sleep offers the brain an opportunity to reorganize information, to find solutions to problems, to process fresh
information and also to organize and archive memories. The brain reinforces memory and categorizes everything
learned into a certain order, and removes the useless, impertinent information.
When humans sleep, the brain has the ability to filter events which do and do not affect long term memory.
Glycogen levels in the brain are replenished while asleep. Sleep is essential for survival in mammals. For
instance, rats will die after about fourteen days with no sleep. Following substantial weight loss, they will be
unable to regulate their body temperature and will develop infections. In humans, insufficient sleep results in
impaired memory and reduced mental abilities, moodiness, and hallucinations.
Effect of Sleep on the Body
Sleep might also be a period of rest for the heart and lungs. Folks with normal or elevated blood pressure have
a 20-30% decrease in pressure along with a 10-20% heart rate reduction.
Sleep offers the body an opportunity to replace chemicals and repair muscles, various other tissues and aging or
dead cells. This may also have an impact on strengthening the immune system.
In children and young adults, growth hormones are released while asleep. Circadian rhythm or a day-night cycle
of about twenty four hours has a big effect on the timing, quantity and quality of sleep. A well balanced circadian
rhythm results in better sleep. Adult humans need seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Sleep and Energy Metabolism
While sleeping, metabolic processes decrease as does energy consumption.
Sleep experts have theorized that sleep might restore certain chemicals that are depleted during periods of
wakefulness. Researchers have isolated chemical compounds which change while asleep, such as adenosine, which has
an effect on metabolic process and fatigue. Nevertheless, nobody has actually pinned down a conclusive chemical
explanation for sleep.
Several experts have theorized that sleeping might be an evolutionary instrument to conserve energy while some
others suggest sleep offers the brain a chance to process experiences or perhaps to exercise neurological pathways
which have lain dormant throughout the day.
Sleep has a therapeutic benefit in that it offers the body and mind the opportunity to revitalize, reenergize,
and restore. We all organize long term memory, integrate fresh knowledge, and repair and restore tissue, nerve
cells along with other chemical compounds. Furthermore, sleep is of an adaptive nature. As primitive human beings
and mammals, it was and is much easier to find food in the daytime and, for mammals, to hide during the night.
Furthermore, sleep is a matter of energy preservation. Whilst sleeping, human beings are conserving energy when it
would be unlikely to find food if we stayed awake.
Our sleep habits are also controlled by way of a hormonal body clock. Melatonin within the body increases during evening hours helping to make us drowsy.
Morning brings a decrease in melatonin concentration. Likewise, daylight helps us to stay awake. When our eyes get
strong light waves, the melatonin production is reduced by way of links with our visual system.
The quantity and quality of sleep we have is directly linked to the
quantity and quality of our productivity.