When you sleep, your body is rebooting many of its systems and carrying out all sorts of maintenance. Find out everything you need to know about how this happens and why sleep is so important below.
Sleep is vital for our physical and emotional well-being. Physically, the body goes through a restorative process that affects the digestive system, the immune system and the cardiovascular system. It has actually been proven that a lack of sleep increases the level of “hunger hormone”, making us eat more than we should and thus increasing the risk for all sorts of diseases. Lack of sleep might increase the risk of getting heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial when it comes to emotional and cognitive functions. The hours that we sleep allow the brain to catch up and prepare itself for the day ahead. The positive effects of good sleep also affect our ability to focus and concentrate, remember things, solve problems and motivate ourselves.
Sleep consists of four sleep stages that always occur in the same order. Each complete sleep cycle lasts between 60 and 90 minutes.
First there is light sleep. This is the stage between being awake and falling asleep. As this happens our heartbeat and our breathing slow down and our muscles relax. The next stage is preparation for deep sleep. Now, our heartbeat and our breathing slow down even more – and our brain activity is also slower. Then we move into deep sleep. During this stage our body is completely relaxed and our brain is running on idle. The repair and restoration processes in our body are taking place. Finally, we move into REM-stage or the dreaming stage. Our eyes are now moving rapidly from side to side and our muscles are paralysed.