We all do it…we all need to do it…sometimes it comes naturally…at other times it can be the hardest thing to do. Sleep is the mechanism that repairs our body and mind in preparation for the next day, but just what is happening to us in those hours of rest? In association with www.sleepypeople.com, THE place for a good night’s sleep, we have looked at what happens when we sleep and why a good night’s sleep is so important to us.
Time for my Beauty Sleep
We’ve probably all used this saying at some point without thinking about the truth behind it. During our sleep our bodies increase the rate at which they produce cells, replacing the dead skin cells that we constantly shed from the outer layers of our skin.
While we’re asleep our muscles relax to levels that we aren’t able to achieve whilst we are awake. This might be hard to believe if you have a partner that thrashes around whilst asleep! During this super relaxed state, our facial muscles are relaxed too – easing the tension in the skin around the mouth and eyes. So, it’s not just a clichéd phrase, we really do need a good night’s sleep to maintain a good complexion and healthy looking skin.
When we sleep our brain activity patterns change from those in waking hours. In the initial stages of sleep, brain activity at the surface of our brains, reduces by around 40 percent. However, when we achieve REM sleep, our brains are highly active again. REM sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep, so named due to the way our eyes dart about in this sleep phase, is thought to be the time when we make sense of experiences, thoughts and emotions. Blood flow to the areas of the brain that are associated with memory and emotion are greatly increased during REM sleep.
Sleep Well to be Fighting Fit
Studies have shown that getting a good sleep regularly, helps us to fight off infection. Our immune systems are more active whilst we sleep, so achieving a good sleep gives them more chance to combat any new infections that we have contracted. This may explain why we feel the need to sleep more when we get a cold so that our immune system gets the chance it needs to fight off the infection.
Fancy a Midnight Feast?
Eating late at night could well be reason you carry that bloated feeling around with you the following day. During our sleep, our digestive system slows down its activity to a point where it is barely active at all, so going to bed with a full tummy may mean that the food is not digested properly. Our digestion slows to regulate the amount of energy, derived from sugars in our food, that is supplied to the rest of our bodies. Because our muscles are a relaxed, they don’t need as much energy as when we’re awake.
I Can’t Get No Sleep
It is quite common go through periods of sleeplessness during our adult lives. In most cases we do achieve some sleep during the night but we are unable to maintain a full night’s sleep. There can be many reasons for this including stress, worries, jet lag and depression. In many instances however it can be the very bed that we are sleeping on that is causing our insomnia. Our mattresses, pillows and bed linen have a life cycle, beyond which we should consider replacing them. If you’re slightly sceptical of the need to replace your bedding from time to time and if you were wondering where many of those dead skin cells we mentioned end up…look no further than your pillow and mattress!