12 Interesting Questions About Sleep Answered from What is Sleep to Where to Sleep Answered! What are Sleep Disorders? What are Hypnic jerks? & Many More Interesting Questions About Sleep Answered

 

What is sleep?

Unlike popular belief, sleep is not a period where your ‘body shuts down’. Sleep is a period of reduced activity and is associated with postures wherein the person closes his eyes. In the state of sleep, a person does not respond easily to what is going around him. Sleep is different from the state of coma or hibernation, as it is very easily reversible.

 

What is REM sleep?

REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement and is often called paradoxical sleep or ‘active sleep’. We experience most of our dreams during REM. It is also associated with increased pulse rate and breathing.

12 Interesting Questions About Sleep Answered
An graphic illustration to showcase the brain activity during REM-sleep | Image By Lorenza Walker

 

What is NREM sleep?

NREM stands for Non Rapid Eye Movement and is called ‘quiet sleep’. During NREM, blood supply to the muscles is increased and energy levels are restored in the body. Repair and growth of tissues occurs during NREM. Many of the important hormones for growth and development are also released during NREM.

 

Do we have the same kind of sleep throughout the night?

Our brain cyclically goes through NREM and REM sleep throughout the night. The first stage of NREM, is the transition state between being awake and falling asleep. This is followed by a state called as ‘light sleep’ where the heart rate, breathing rate slow down and the body temperature drops. This is followed by the third stage of sleep called ‘deep sleep’; it is the most restorative stage of sleep and it is very difficult to wake up a person who is in this stage of sleep. This is followed by REM sleep. On an average, a person spends about 4 to 7 hours in NREM sleep and 90 to 120 minutes in REM sleep every night.

12 Interesting Questions About Sleep Answered
Hypnogram of sleep between midnight and 6.30 am | Image by I, RazerM

 

How long do newborns sleep for?

Newborn children spend almost 16 to 20 hours a day sleeping.

12 Interesting Questions About Sleep Answered

 

How many hours a day should you sleep?

It is recommended that adults should sleep for about 7 to 9 hours a day.

 

If you do not sleep

If you do not sleep for the recommended amount of time, is it ok if you make up for it by napping during the day? The amount of sleep required differs from person to person. However, continuous sleep at night is required to get all the restorative properties of sleep that cannot be gained by fragmented sleep. A good night’s sleep will help you be alert for the day.

A short ‘power nap’ may help to boost your energy, but these naps must be limited to around 15 to 20 minutes. If you find yourself napping throughout the day, you will find it harder to sleep at night.

 

What happens when you are sleep deprived?

When your body is deprived of sleep, you may experience many consequences such as difficulty in memorizing, mood swings, weakened immunity, blood pressure changes, weight gain, poor sense of balance and an increased risk of heart disease. Losing even just one night of sleep can in fact increase your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

 

What are sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders are conditions wherein your sleep patterns change. The most common sleep disorders include insomnia, where you find it very difficult to fall asleep or do not get any sleep throughout the night, sleep apnea, wherein you experience abnormal breathing patterns while sleeping, Restless leg syndrome, wherein you get an urge to move your legs while trying to fall asleep. Narcolepsy is an extreme case of sleep disorder where one experiences extreme sleepiness during the day and can fall asleep anywhere at any time.

 

What are hypnic jerks?

Some people experience jerking movement that wake them up when they try to sleep. This happens during the first stage of sleep. This is due to involuntary contraction of the muscles. However, this is not harmful to the person.

 

Do animals sleep?

Scientists cannot say that all animals sleep, but many animals do. The sleep patterns vary throughout the animal kingdom, with cats sleeping for upto 15 hours a day! Insects and fishes do not experience REM sleep. Dolphins utilize ‘uni-hemispheric slow wave sleep where they essentially sleep half a brain at a time.

12 Interesting Questions About Sleep Answered

 

Read about 5 Simple Tips to Sleep Better Naturally

 

Why do we sleep?

Scientists have studied various benefits of sleep but have still not come up with a concrete answer about why we sleep. Maybe you can become a researcher and find out! 

These are the 12 Interesting Questions About Sleep Answered!

 

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References

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/variations/changes-in-sleep-with-age

https://www.alaskasleep.com/blog/tips-creating-ideal-sleep-environment

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-science-of-sleep-understanding-what-happens-when-you-sleep

https://www.sleep.org/articles/do-all-animals-sleep/

 

Photos, Vector Graphics & Illustrations Credits

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About Author

Saunri Dhodi Lobo is pursuing M.Sc in Life Sciences with specialization in Neurobiology. Her interests include writing poetry, going for nature walks and swimming. Currently she is involved in research on Alzheimer’s Disease in fruit flies.

Read all Articles by Saunri Dhodi Lobo

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