What Happens During Sleep?

Sleep is just as active as waking. Both form part of the same pendulum of consciousness that works best when synchronized with your biological clock and the cues of day and night.

I think of it as a factory that operates during the day at full pace with hundreds of people crisscrossing the floors, stairs and elevators at incredible pace, going up and down stairs and elevators, meeting and making decisions until the end of the day when the factory shuts down and all the people go home. No sooner are they gone, than a small crew move in to aerate the place, run vacuum cleaners and mop up, dust, empty trash cans, clean out restrooms and stair wells, then begin to restore order, tidy up, water the plants, replace dead light bulbs, replenish water bottles, check out the offices, power-up machines and safety measures, until all is ready to go for the new business day.

For those interested in more detail here is a summary of what happens during sleep.

As night approaches body rhythms are decreasing.
- Lights-out increase the hormone melatonin to put you to sleep.
- You shut your eyelids to rest your eyes and take a pause from external stimuli.
- Body temperature is lowest.
-You lie down. Your body is spared the need to bear its weight.
- Blood pressure and heart rate are reduced; blood gets to your brain effortlessly.
- You breathe more slowly, regularly, getting oxygen and glucose to your brain.
- You relax muscles, joints and bones.
- Your kidney shuts down so you do not need to get up to urinate,
- Inflammation is reduced; your skin looks better in the morning.
- The stress hormone cortisol is low because there is no need to generate energy.
- Testosterone is at its lowest too.
- Appetite hormones are reduced — no need to eat; energy metabolism is at its lowest.
Midway through the night your body begins to replenish, rebuild and power up.
- Growth hormone and other body building anabolic hormones increase dramatically.
- Testosterone and cortisol increase to generate energy.
- Your body is waking up even if you are not moving yet.
On the other hand, your brain becomes hyperactive.
- Your brain’s electrical activity is greater during sleep than when you are awake?
- Skills learned during the day are retained if you sleep right afterwards.
- Memories are consolidated and reorganized
- The day’s events are reviewed, restructured and sent and stored in the right place.
Next day
- Your athletic performance is improved.
- You focus better and avoid accidents.
- You are better able to handle stress.
- You are calmer and happier

We take sleep for granted as the time to rest from a busy day – like parking your body for the night. But it is much more than that.

It is one third of your life. Make the most of it!

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