You come back home from a tiring day at work. You lie on your bed and doze off. The next morning you wake up refreshed, all set to rock the day. All that tiredness disappeared in a poof. What happened? Your body rested. Is that what happened? Yes. 

No wonder why sleep is the magic tonic everybody needs. Have a bad mood? A good night’s sleep can fix it. Have a headache? A good night’s sleep can do the trick. 

But how is it a magical wand? How can sleep fix all your problems?  What happens in your sleep other than relaxing and rewinding? Well, there are an array of bodily functions that take place in the body when you sleep. We will be discussing them in length here in this blog.

This blog is for all the curious cats who wish to know more about the human body. 

So, without further ado, let’s get started, shall we? 

Your memory sharpens and your cognitive skills develop 

Have a writer’s block? Sleep may turn out to be the quick fix.  You may assume that your brain rests when your body rests. Turns out, your brain is in fact the most active when you sleep. 

There are significant changes in the brain’s electrical activity during that time. It’s the brain’s literally rewiring itself. This rewiring is how we process and retain information we learn during the day. 

This is why a good night’s sleep is essential if you have an important day, such as an exam ahead of you. You may stay up all night to study and sleep for a few hours, but your brain wouldn’t be able to retain the information without sleep. So, there is no point in sacrificing sleep to learn new things. Sleep is important, especially if you want the next day to go well and be productive for you. 

Your heart rate slows down when you sleep 

When you are in deep sleep, your heart rate and blood pressure gradually slow down. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration may also fluctuate. This fluctuation is normal and has to do with changes in sympathetic nervous system activity. These changes are good and may improve cardiovascular health. 

Your muscles get paralysed for a while 

Surprised yet? Don’t be because it is a part of the natural process. This process is called muscle atonia, a state of temporary loss of muscle tone or muscle weakness, often observed during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. 

During REM sleep, the brain is highly active, and vivid dreaming occurs. To prevent individuals from physically acting out their dreams and potentially causing harm to themselves or others, the body experiences muscle atonia, which inhibits voluntary muscle movement. While muscle atonia is a normal and essential part of the sleep cycle, disruptions in this process can lead to sleep disorders such as REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD). 

Cellular restoration 

This is something we already know, don’t we? The body repairs and restores itself during sleep. Hence, a lot of functions that have to do with the repair happen in the body while you sleep. These include protein synthesis, muscle repair, hormone release and tissue growth. 

Apart from that, the glymphatic system, a waste clearance system in the brain, becomes more active during sleep, facilitating the removal of metabolic byproducts and toxins that accumulate during wakefulness. This cellular cleansing process is thought to play a role in cognitive function and may contribute to preventing neurodegenerative conditions.

Your hunger hormones are controlled 

Do you feel hungrier than ever when you are awake in the dead of the night? If yes, there is a reason why this happens. Sleep controls your hunger hormones such as leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that increases appetite and leptin is also the hormone that promotes the feeling of fullness. 

When you are asleep, ghrelin decreases as the body requires less energy during sleep, ultimately controlling your appetite. 

However, when you are awake, the production of ghrelin increases, making you hungrier when you sleep. 

Your emotional health is at its best 

If you cried yourself to sleep last night and woke up refreshed, like nothing ever happened, you have your good night’s sleep to thank. The activity in the brain areas which are responsible for emotional health increases when you sleep. Consequently, you feel better the next morning. 

Closing thoughts 

So, the next time you plan on compromising sleep for whatever reasons, we hope you won’t. Just as mentioned in the blog, sleep is an essential part of the day. A lot of bodily functions happen when you sleep. So, if your goal is to have a healthy and happy life, you must not compromise on your sleep no matter what. 

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