Quick tip: When you get in Zzz mode, the brain generates two distinct sleep types, namely; slow-wave sleep [SWS], commonly known as deep sleep, and; rapid eye movement [REM], more popularly known as dreaming sleep. The brain sleeps in stages and starts from the areas that produce SWS. When the brain switches to REM mode, a dreamer’s brain becomes super active at the same time that the body’s muscles become temporarily paralyzed.
Well, sleep and sleep function has remained a mystery even to sleep experts around the globe for 1000’s of years now. However, modern research has been giving more clues into what goes on behind the scenes -- when we knock off.
For instance, we now know that sleep helps recharge the body’s cells; removes toxic waste from the brain; supports learning and memory; helps regulate mood, appetite...and even libido.
So, what happens to your brain when you sleep?
A lot! Contrary to popular belief making waves in the 50s that sleep was a passive activity during which the body and brain were in a state of rest, modern science has shown that when we sleep, the brain actually gets to work performing functions that are super important to ones overall quality of life.
When you fall asleep, the brain generates two distinct sleep types called, slow-wave sleep [SWS] and rapid eye movement sleep [REM].
A large part of our sleep falls into the SWS category [aka deep sleep], and this entails:
- large, slow brain waves
- Relaxed muscles
- Slow, deep breathing
Actually, all of the above work like clockwork to help the brain and body refresh/recharge for the next day’s activities.
After the SWS cycle completes, REM sets in.
This is when sleep moves to the dream stage and a dreamer’s brain switches to super active mode [although the body’s muscles are temporarily paralyzed at this time to avoid body movements during sleep]. Also, at this time, breathing and heart rate become erratic.
Small groups of cells in the brain stem known as the subcoeruleus nucleus [situated at the base of the brain, and signaling the hypothalamus to control the transitions between wake and sleep] are in charge of REM sleep.
This is why when these cells become inactive due to injury or disease, the temporary muscle paralysis that lets you experience REM sleep malfunctions, leading to a condition called, REM sleep behavior disorder.
People dealing with REM sleep behavior disorder often act out their dreams -- pushing, shouting and hitting things -- in their sleep.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, then some vital brain functions needed for your overall well-being are probably being disrupted -- and this can impact both your sleeping and waking moments.
So, that’s it people -- but before you go…