On our daily journey during 24 hours, our body mainly addresses two cycles, waking and sleeping. The biological clock that Mother Nature provided at birth as a kit for treating the journey has these two cycles that make up the so-called circular cycle. Regularity and constancy in the alternation of these two cycles are important to keep the body in balance and always guarantee excellent performance. Hormones and chemical mediators have the function of guaranteeing the body the due state of vigilance during daytime and rest at night. It is on this second cycle, that of sleep, which we are today to dwell on, because it is often overlooked and relegated to the background of the frenzy of working days.
What happens during sleep? This resting phase is indispensable for both the body and the mind. Both of them are used for energy recovery, but for the brain particular, sleep is like a check-up check box: here the oil levels, tire pressure, the carburetor are cleaned, in other words, the setup for the restart of the day after. The brain at night not only rests on the innumerable fatigues of the day before, but cleanses, settling what is learned during the day and eliminating what is superfluous.
During sleep, it changes brain waves, changes brain electrical activity, decrease body temperature, decrease adrenaline production. Towards dawn, with the first lights, comes the signal of awakening: melatonin, the hormone that accompanies the body on the night, decreases, it increases again the production of adrenaline, increases the temperature and slowly the body prepares to get out of the boxes ready for new runs of the track. Two worn on the accelerator, a stretch and got ready as beautiful as new. It’s a new day.
But to be able to feel fit during the day you must have regenerated body and mind during the night. In this resting phase, in fact, the brain crosses several phases, each with a well-defined function. It’s like saying that once you get back to the box, the vehicle review has to pass several tests before you say it ready: control lights, brakes, liquids, gas, shock absorbers. There are at least 4 night sleep phases …
1) The phase of decompression: here the motors are slowly turned off or rather it is allowed to work at idle speed;
2) It follows light sleep, a sleeping stage where it’s still easy to wake up, is there on the ridge, it takes little to get back on track and we’re almost ready to lift the bonnet for check-ups;
3) It enters deep sleep, in which the brain waves become regular and large; this phase lasts about half the rest and is difficult to be awakened. In the case of abrupt awakening, you have been totally disqualified and you are struggling to orient yourself. Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call? Here’s a little bit how you felt … you were sleeping deeply …;
What does REM mean? It is the acronym for Rapid Eye Movements, that is, the phase of sleep in which eye movements are particularly active. Unlike what is believed, at this stage the brain is very active, similar to the waking, so it is true that it consumes a lot of glucose (sugar) index of intense brain activity. It’s time you go to the movie lords! It’s the time dedicated to dreams. At this stage a check-up of various functions, including memory, is performed.
The most beautiful thing is that all this theater that happens at night without our knowledge has a linear pattern, i.e. the phases do not follow once only from number one to number four, and then off, kick ass and restart. No, it’s circular! That is, they are repeated several times in cycles of about 90-100 minutes each. In short, we do more rides of the carousel before we wake up. REM sleep – which arrives about 90 minutes after sleep – lasts no more than 15 minutes each time. We seem to have dreamed all night, but that is not the case. Usually we only remember the dream closest to awakening.
Sleep well, adhere to the natural sleep and wake cycles, resting the body and mind are essential conditions for good mental and physical health. During the hours of the day, the work rhythms and the swinging life of the cities lead us to wear nervous and physical. So nocturnal rest is essential to keep stress levels under control. Will you sleep little or bad, have thoughts of work at night, wake up with the feeling that you have not recovered? That’s how you felt? Nervous, tired, slow, irritable. The sleep-wake cycle has stopped and you are feeling the consequences. Too high levels of stress affect the production of hormones and chemical mediators that should regulate these cycles by packing them.
In short, Mother Nature has provided the kit, but if we do not read and especially do not apply the instructions, we cannot take it with her. The fact is that no one has ever told us to read the instructions carefully and what else to do may have important side effects. So it’s time to get these old instructions out and read it carefully, body and mind will thank you, including stress.
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