Why do we need sleep?

Photo made by Ramon Gonzalez

Sleeping is a everyday necessity. We humans need sleep to regain physical and mental energy.
There are people who believe that an average person eats an average of 8 spiders a year in his/her sleep. However this is not true! It was a tryout of some researchers to see how people would interpret information from the internet. Well, the answer is quite obvious.
So we don’t eat spiders in our sleep, but what do we do in our sleep? A new facts and figures coming up:

How do humans sleep

There are different stages of sleep that we go through before we wake up.
Sleeping is divided by 2 main stages: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep.

Non-REM sleep
Non-REM sleep is divided in 4 stages.
Stage 1: A light state of sleep. You can be awakened easily and you feel like you have had no sleep when woken up from this stage. This stage usually takes 5-10 minutes. In this stage it is common that you experience muscle contractions.
Stage 2: This is an intermediate state. You are in a light sleep. The body temperature decreases and the heart rate slows down. The body is preparing for deep sleep.
Stage 3 and 4: These are the deep sleep stages. If you are awakened in this sleep, you can feel disoriented for a few minutes.
During these stages the body repairs and regenerates tissues, builds bone and muscle and strengthens the immune system.

REM sleep
REM sleep, rapid eye movement sleep, usually occurs 90 minutes after you fell asleep. During this sleep our eyes move around in a random order. During REM sleep we experience dreams. While we experience dreams, our learning center of the brain gets stimulated. Some researchers suggest that REM sleep is necessary for the preservation of important memories. REM is also necessary for nervous system development and repair. – That explains why babies spend so much time in REM: to learn and todevelop their nervous systems. –
Dreams may not serve any purpose at all but be merely a meaningless byproduct of two evolutionary adaptations – sleep and consciousness.

Sleeping facts

So now you know how humans sleep. Here are some facts about sleep:

- 1/3th of your life is spent sleeping

– Sleeping over nine hours per night (for an adult) is just as bad as sleeping 6 or less.

– If you lose two hours of sleep, you can impair your performance equal to a .05 blood-alcohol level

– Humans sleep on average around three hours less than other primates like chimps, rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys and baboons, all of whom sleep for 10 hours.

– Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.

– Snoring occurs only in non-REM sleep

– Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet.

And that last one is so true. Before you can sleep you have to relax your body and mind. By surfing on the internet you don’t relax your mind and getting to sleep gets more difficult.

Sleep is of huge importance to a healthy and happy life. You know now that you sleep 1/3th of your life. 1/3th! You better make sure you spend that time wisely. By taking time to relax before you go to sleep, you sleep more efficient and wake up with more energy.
Take that time to relax, and get up the next morning with a smile and shine your happiness trough the day.