What Happens to Your Body When You Sleep?
The body is a powerful thing, even while you are sleeping. In fact, what you may consider your “rest period,” your brain and entire body might beg to differ. A lot goes on in that body of yours while you are sleeping, so we decided to break it down and shed a little light on just what happens while you are sleeping.
You may be sleeping, but your brain sure isn’t. It puts itself to work in order for you to reenergize, repair, and remember things from day to day.
While you are sleeping, your brain does a little home repair. During waking hours, your brain can build up toxic molecules that causes harm to it, which is how it is a leading cause to diseases such as Alzheimer’s. But, with the help of sleep, your brain actually cleans out those toxic molecules by flushing them out of your system, letting your brain have a fresh start to a new day.
Another amazing feature that your brain contains has to be the way your brain stores memories as you sleep. While you are asleep, your brain forms new memories as it consolidates older ones. Plus, it gears you up to remember new information that you are ready to take in. Your brain can store long-term memories through brain waves as you sleep, helping you remember those emotional moments or even basic motor tasks such as how to swing a golf club (what you may know as “muscle memory”). Thus, it is very important for you to get some sleep to help you remember and retain information in the short and long term.
As your brain is very active at night, your eyes reflect that through the night with rapid eye movement, known as REM sleep. This is during the stage that your dreams occur. The rest of your muscles become paralyzed so that you do not physically act out the motions in your dream, but your eyes move back and forth at this stage. But, you may notice that the moment you wake up you might not be able to see anything for a few seconds. This is because it takes the brain about 30 seconds for it to recognize that you are awake.
After a workout (or just a day on the job), your muscles have been put to the test and worked hard to get you through the day. As muscles are worked, tiny tears form in order to make room for your muscles to grow. But, your body needs one thing for it to repair those tears and grow that muscle tissue — sleep. During your sleep, extra oxygen is stored into your muscles so that you can reenergize and heal them. Without adequate sleep, your body won’t be able to heal itself from major or minor injuries.
Bones & Discs
Aside from those muscles repairing themselves and growing, does anyone remember getting growing pains when you were a kid? Yep, those pains were caused from your bones growing as you slept throughout the night. But, your growth just doesn’t stop when you’re a kid. Adults, too, grow a bit at night due to your spinal discs rehydrating. Throughout the day your discs become compressed as it supports the weight of your body by sitting and standing, but as you sleep your spine is at rest and the compression decreases, allowing those compressed discs to get bigger and rehydrate.
Hair & Skin
The fun of growing doesn’t stop at your bones and muscles; your hair and skin are both among things that grow and repair throughout the night. From a cut or burn to a pimple, your skin cells regenerate throughout the night as it heals any wounds or simply creates a new layer of skin. Not to mention, collagen production spikes when you sleep, which is how your skin keeps its elasticity.
From a scratchy throat to cancer, sleep is an important part when it comes to your immune system. Several studies have linked lack of sleep to a weaker immune system. Adequate rest is crucial to help your immune system fight off any diseases or viruses and to help recover from any already existing illness.
As you sleep, your blood pressure and heart rate drop to let your entire body get ample rest and be able to repair itself. This is why it is extremely important for people with high blood pressure to get a good night’s sleep.