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  • Writer's pictureYuvraj Gupta

The science of sleep!

Despite huge advances in the issues surrounding human health, why and how we sleep remains one of the most mysterious and challenging tasks for the scientists. Everyone has heard-‘he who snoozes, loses’. But is it really so? Are we losing by sleeping or instead gaining?
Like the seasons, and the cycle of life and death, sleep is also cyclical in nature. Despite no two individuals sleep routines being identical, neuroscience divides the cyclical nature of sleep into four parts: N1, N2, N3 and REM
But what is actually happening in these four stages, and why is sleep “gaining” and not “losing” the limited time we have in earth, needs to be answered scientifically.
The first stage is just the dozing off- it is like a launch pad ejecting the spacecraft into the trajectory. At this time, it is easier to wake up; a slight disturbance can violate this lowest frequency. The next transition displaces the body into much calmer seas. The body is relaxed. Muscles stop twitching; blinking is reduced to the lowest frequency. This stage is called delta sleep or slow wave sleep also.

After 30-40 minutes of delta sleep pass, the human brain transcends into the most charismatic stage: the REM or the deep sleep. This stage is also known as paralysis as the body seems to stop working except for the cardiovascular system. But is it really so? Well, this appears to be the most important phase of the sleep cycle as it appears to be the part of the cycle which enables us to function well in the future. This is the phase where we dream. It is unclear what the function of dreams is for us, but theories include: helping us make sense of our experiences and ordering our memories. It is certainly clear that people deprived of REM sleep start suffering psychological distress
Speaking biologically, it is at this stage that the body releases adenosine and melatonin hormones that help the body fight several ailments such as diabetes, blood pressure, body temperature and cardiovascular diseases. So, the mind and body are not dead. The pituitary gland releases a pulse of growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair. In other words, the body is transformed into a workshop, repairing, redressing and patching every cell and tissue.
“No wonder Sleeping Beauty looked so good...she took long naps, never got old, and didn't have to do anything but snore to get her Prince Charming.” ― Olive Green

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1 Comment

Rahul Gautam
Rahul Gautam
Jun 03, 2023

Superbly researched, deeply insightful and a fascinating read!

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