Sleep is something that we all have in common. Our body and mind need sleep. So much so that poor sleeping patterns have been widely linked to an increase in bad health.
The argument on how much sleep is necessary for the average human is an ongoing debate, one that looks like a definitive conclusion is still far off, but I think we can all agree sleep as a whole is hugely important to us as humans.
Many argue that the required amount of sleep one needs varies from person to person. You may only properly function after a solid 8 hours sleep while your ‘morning friend’ is bright and perky after just 6 hours. This seems highly unfair, but it is what it is. However there are ways to help combat that ‘groggy morning’ feeling.
So with it agreed that sleep is hugely important, just what goes on while we sleep and why is so important to our overall health? See the infographic below.
Infographic Transcript: Your Body On Sleep
The amount of sleep a human needs per day widely varies depending on who you talk to!
Generally, most healthy adults need 7-9 hours a night. Some individuals can function properly with as little as 6 hours, while others only perform at their peak with at least 10 hours.
So, what do our bodies go through while we sleep?
The Brain - Our brains cycle through 5 different sleep stages. A full cycle takes around 90 minutes to complete. Once we complete the final stage (REM sleep), we’ll start the first phase anew.
The Eyes - REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is denoted by our eye movement during this phase. Occurring every 70-90 minutes, our eyes dart quickly back and forth and is when most of our dreaming is done.
Hormones - During our anabolic sleep state our body produces the human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is essential to growth, maintenance and repair of muscles and bones.
Body Temperature - In the evening our body temperature along with adrenaline levels start to drop. A low body temperature increases the likelihood of sleep more deeply, ensuring a well rested sleep.
Immune System - Levels of certain agents which are produced to fight off diseases and illness rise dramatically during sleep and drop when we are awake.
The Skin - Deep sleep speeds up our skin’s metabolic rate which helps repair the damage done during the day.
The Mouth - Salivary flow is scaled down during sleep causing a dry mouth in the morning. The mouth can be highly active during sleep with 1 in 20 adults unconsciously grinding their teeth at night.
Muscles - It is said that adults can change their sleeping position up to 35 times a night, but the muscles still remain in a relaxed state, giving muscles a chance to repair and restore vital tissues.
Kidneys - A main function of your kidneys is to filter out all the toxins from the bloodstream and product urine. This process is slowed during sleep.
Digestive System - Our digestive system slumps to a slow pace during sleep due to our immobile bodies. Due to this, it’s not recommended to consume food late at night as this can cause a bloated feeling.
Movement/Twitching - The ferocity of your twitching during sleep can indicate how sleepy you are. The bigger the movement, the more tired you’re likely to be.
Breathing - When asleep our throat muscles relax and get narrower each time we inhale. Sleep apnoea (impaired breathing during sleep) can be caused by fat build-up, poor muscle tone or ageing and can be considered dangerous.
Paralyzed - During the deepest part of our sleep cycle (REM) the muscles in our arms and legs temporarily lock in place, paralyzing us while we sleep.
Did you know?
Our bodies never truly adjust to shift work
12% of people dream entirely in black & white
If it takes you less than 5 minutes to fall asleep you’re most probably sleep-deprived
Finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning can lead you to being diagnosed with a condition called dysania
Sources: Dailymail.co.uk | Cosmopolitan.com | Prevention.com | Sparkpeople.com | Health.clevelandclinic.org