Sleep is important for your health and it is needed for your body and your brain to recover and process impressions. When you sleep at night, you can more easily cope with stress and strain during the day. Sleep can also reduce the risk of disease.
What happens when you sleep?
Sleep is needed for the body and brain to recover and process impressions. During sleep, the body unwinds, blood pressure drops, heart rate and body temperature drop, respiration decreases and muscles relax. In parts of the brain, activity decreases. At the same time, memories are stored and new knowledge and new impressions are processed.
When you sleep, the body's immune system is activated and important hormones are formed. At the same time, the production of stress hormones decreases. Getting enough sleep can reduce the risk of diseases such as high blood fats, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression and fatigue syndrome.
For children and young people who grow up, sleep is very important because growth hormone is formed then.
The need for sleep is different in different people
Adults usually need between six and nine hours of sleep per day. But it varies from person to person. It also varies depending on how effective your sleep is, that is, how much deep sleep you have had.
As long as you feel fit and work well during the day, you will get enough sleep. On average, adults sleep about seven hours a day. Teenagers usually need to sleep eight and a half to nine hours a day and 60-year-olds usually need about 6 hours of sleep.
Sleep is divided into different phases of sleep
The sleep is divided into so-called sleep cycles of about 90 minutes. During a sleep cycle, sleep alternates between different sleep phases.
The different phases of sleep are as follows:
- The sleep phase. In this phase, sleep is superficial and you are easily awakened.
- The bass sleep, the so-called normal sleep.
- Deep sleep. In this phase, the body's recovery and rebuilding takes place. The brain works more slowly and the production of stress hormone decreases. During deep sleep, the muscles relax and you are difficult to wake up. If you are awakened in this phase, you may feel confused and it will take time before you wake up.
- The dream sleep which is also called REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement which means rapid eye movements.
Once you go to bed, turn off the light and start feeling drowsy, the alertness drops. Then you are in the sleep phase. Then you get into the deep sleep and gradually you get into the deep sleep.
- Bass sleep and deep sleep return regularly during the night along with periods of dream sleep. At the beginning of the night, sleep is dominated by deep sleep. Thereafter, the periods of deep sleep become shorter and the periods of dream sleep longer. Dreams occur during the various stages of sleep, but they are most common during REM sleep. Then the brain works actively in a way that reminds you when you are awake.
Deep sleep is important for the body's recovery
In order for the body and brain to have adequate recovery, you need to get enough of the deep sleep. The longer you have been awake, the deeper your sleep will be. It is also easiest to sleep and get deep sleep when the body's internal clock is set to night and the body's metabolism is low.
The older, the more easily aroused
As you get older, deep sleep decreases and you sleep more shallowly and wake up easier. It may be that with increasing age we need less sleep, but this is not yet clear.
Women may notice the change associated with menopause. Sleep can be affected by sweating at night, but also by the fact that sleep becomes shallower.
When you can not sleep
The vast majority have at some point experienced a sleepless night due to stress or anxiety. It's hard not to be able to sleep a few nights, but it's not dangerous. When this happens, the body can make up for the lack of sleep next night.
If the sleep difficulties persist, it is important to think about the causes as soon as possible. It can be more difficult to deal with sleep problems as time goes on.
When you do not get a good night's sleep, you function worse than usual in several ways. Then it is a little harder to cope with work and everyday stress. The immune system is also impaired by lack of sleep, which makes it easier for you to get sick. Too little sleep also affects the center of the brain for satiety and hunger so that you can feel hungrier. Lack of sleep also affects the blood sugar balance and can make you extra hungry for sweets.
Read more about sleep disorders here.