What is sleep and how can it improve the quality of your life?

What is sleep exactly

When it comes to the state of any mind or body, sleep is one of the most important aspects of a healthy life. Along with exercise and nutrition, sleep is considered a necessary function of life, but at the same time, there are often misconceptions regarding what can seem like a rather simple process.

In a technical sense, sleep refers to a condition in which the eyes close and the nervous system enters an inactive state. During this period, muscles are in a relatively relaxed condition while the consciousness, as we know it, is put on hold.

Also known as Delta Sleep, deep sleep is the part of this pattern when the mind and body are almost entirely unconscious from their immediate surroundings or environment. Health professionals recommend that adults require a minimum of 1.5 hours of deep sleep every night, which should account for 20% of the total amount of sleep and an integral phase in this respect is Rapid Eye Movement.

The great importance of REM

Another phase of this sleep cycle is rapid eye movement, best known as “REM”, and this occurrence accounts for up to 25% of the cycle. In most cases, REM will initiate at least one hour after falling asleep and most often, this is the period during which you are likely to experience what we know as a dream. This is the restorative part of the cycle and when the eyes will flicker, hence the term rapid eye movement.

It is important to remember that there are many stages of REM during every cycle and these stages have the potential to leave a person feeling re-charged upon waking.

What is sleep and what happens when sleeping?

In some ways, it would seem many people still believe that sleeping is nothing more than a passive state, during which the body and mind can take a break from the present. However, while this theory is entirely logical, there is still a flaw in this suggestion by Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. After all, is the mind really resting in the midst of a dream? Are those sweaty moments during a nightmare, a sign that the body is taking a break?

At the same time, there have been endless studies since the time of Aristotle in which scientists have established that sleep is another state rather than merely a period of rest. During this “second state” the mind and body are subjected to various experiences, both mental and physical, while the brain, in particular, continues to be stimulated.

Consisting of five stages, sleep is defined by the changes which take place regarding electrical activity in the brain. Having entered a state of drowsiness, the mind begins to drift out of consciousness and into a period of light sleep. Soon after, this becomes deep sleep, when the heart slows down, and temperature reduces. While the brain also slows down, this is reactivated before rapid eye movement begins and deep sleep is in full swing.

Why is sleep so important to the quality of life?

It should be obvious that sleep is extremely important to the psyche and behavior of an individual. For example, upon receiving an adequate amount of sleep, we can feel invigorated and perform daily tasks to the best of our ability. On the contrary, when we “lose” sleep or when we live without the above mentioned second state, it can be quite an emotional stage involving frustration, irritation, and lacking in any sense of creativity. Thinking is impaired at this time and simply put, along with exercise and nutrition, these are just some of the reasons as to why sleep is one of three basic human needs for a healthy mind and body.

As already mentioned, sleep is an essential pillar of a healthy life but to get the most out of this process, both the quality and amount of sleep are also highly important. It is widely accepted that while the body and mind are not entirely passive, this is the only time in which we can remove ourselves from the present and use the process of sleep to wake up feeling refreshed. When you consider the basis for all of the above and how sleep directly impacts on our ability to think, move and act upon impulse, it could be said that the process of sleeping is just as important as living itself. After all, there is no such thing as one without the other.

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