After a good sleep we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead. But what really happens whilst we sleep that affects how we look, feel and perform the next day and why is sleep so essential for health and survival?
You might think that sleep is a waste of time but neurologically speaking sleep is a very busy and important time, it takes the body at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to complete all cycles that need to happen for rejuvenation. These phases are needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and hormone release. If interrupted, the body will simply wake up less prepared affecting your health, the ability to concentrate and the ability to engage in social activities.
Each sleep phase can be repeated as many as 5 times during the night, so what exactly are these phases?
- The body drifts to sleep and can be awakened easily, this phase lasts for only a few minutes and takes up only 5% of the sleep cycle.
- The body is now in a phase of light sleep, your body temperature drops and you start to become disengaged from your surroundings.
Phase 3 and 4
- This is the deepest phase of sleep when brain waves are at their lowest and it’s hard to wake a person. The heart rate and breathing slows and there is no eye movement or muscle activity. At this phase hormones are released and the bodies supply to muscle increases, tissue growth and repair happens and energy is restored.
Phase 5 REM (Rapid Eye Movement)
- This phase re-occurs almost every 90 minutes. Breathing becomes shallow , eyes move rapidly and limbs are temporarily paralysed. At this phase dreams are most vivid and if woken during REM you may remember your dreams.
This inactivity can also affect breathing muscles and is usually the cause of snoring and other breathing problems whilst sleeping.
Sleep is essential to life and helps us thrive by contributing to a healthy immune system and additionally regulates hormone levels that affect our feelings of hunger and fullness. Sleep deprivation can therefore lead to weight gain and energy loss and can be fatal for both humans and animals.
If you are having trouble sleeping or feeling fatigued it is vital that you speak to a doctor to discuss what changes can be made to resolve this. If you are unable to get to a regular GP and are worried about the lack of sleep you are getting call 1300 30 38 34 or
book online and a bulk billing doctor will visit you in the comfort of your own home from 6pm weekdays, 12pm on Saturdays and anytime on Sundays and public Holidays.