In the 1950s, we believed that sleep is completely passive — that your body and mind simply go dormant and wait until morning. However, as time and medical science have progressed, it’s become clear that sleep is far more complex than we had thought.
Here's what your body does while you're asleep:
1️⃣ When you’re asleep, you cycle back and forth between two different phases: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and Non-REM sleep. The first part of your sleep cycle is non-REM sleep, which comprises four stages. Stage one is the one you enter as soon as you fall asleep. The second stage is moderate sleep, during which your heart rate decreases, your body cools down and your breathing slows. The final two stages are deep sleep, when your body repairs and restores itself.
2️⃣ Good sleep helps your brain eliminate waste and refresh itself. According to new research, complex immune cells fire up while you sleep to repair your brain. They do so by flushing out cerebrospinal fluid, which eliminates waste — various toxic proteins that, when built up, make it harder for you to think.
3️⃣ While you sleep, your cells heal and repair themselves. If your muscles need to be repaired after a tough workout, your brain triggers the release of chemicals, enzymes and hormones to rebuild muscle tissue. And if your blood vessels are damaged, it’ll send orders to repair that damage too. Your body also produces white blood cells when you sleep, to improve your ability to fend off bacteria and viruses. Your white blood cells help you get sick less often and heal faster when you’re not feeling well.
4️⃣ Sleep gives your body a well-deserved break by lessening the burden on your heart. When you’re asleep, your blood pressure drops, allowing your heart to slow down and rest. Sleeping also encourages the release of hormones that slow down your breathing, soothing your muscles and allowing them to fully relax.
Make sure you do what you can to protect your sleep, so your sleep can protect you.
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