FAST ASLEEP: Six Amazing Things Your Body Does While You're Sleeping
Many of us assume that the whole point of sleeping is to get some rest, and while, if you’re lucky, you do wake up feeling rested, your body isn't ‘resting’ at all. While you’re sleeping, it’s very busy preparing you to take on the next day.
You may have noticed that when you don’t get enough sleep, you have less patience and feel more cranky, but a deficiency of sleep can also lead to all sorts of issues like a weakened immune system, memory issues, weight gain and higher susceptibility to more serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. This is because you’re not allowing your body enough time to do all the work it needs to in order to prepare you for the next day.
Our advice: give your body enough time to do all of its work while you’re sleeping so that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your day.
Here are six amazing things your body does while you’re sleeping:
1. Fights inflammation.
While you’re asleep, your immune system releases cytokines, a protein that helps your body to fight inflammation, trauma and infection. This is why getting extra sleep while you’re sick helps you to recover. But, even when you’re not sick, it’s still important to get enough sleep so your immune system can manage and prevent inflammation or infection by releasing this protein and continue to function at its best.
2. Repairs muscles.
During deep sleep phases, your body releases human growth hormone to help rebuild and strengthen muscle tissue. This is crucial for growing children and especially helpful for athletes.
3. Lowers cortisol levels.
This is a stress hormone. During your first few hours of sleep, levels begin to decrease, which helps you to wake up feeling perky or happier. By not allowing your cortisol levels to decrease, you often wake up feeling cranky.
4. Sorts information.
Some parts of your brain, like those involved in processing information and emotions and learning, are more active while you’re sleeping than when you’re awake. Your hippocampus sorts through all the information you’ve taken in during the day and stores it away accordingly. This process is very important to one’s ability to problem-solve and think creatively. Your hypothalamus helps you to regulate emotions and stressors. While you sleep, it organizes the emotional information you’ve absorbed during the day, files it accordingly, and, in turn, helps you better deal with stressors and regulate your emotions. And, finally, while you’re sleeping, the amygdala helps to commit our knowledge and experience to memory. Without adequate sleep, we become very forgetful.
5. Lowers your risk of disease.
Just as your brain sorts knowledge and experience to help commit it to memory while you sleep, your immune system ‘remembers’ and sorts bacteria to help prevent illness and disease. Without adequate sleep, your risk of disease and serious illness becomes much higher.
6. Regulates appetite.
Sleep directly affects hormones in your body that regulate appetite, like ghrelin, for example, which impacts weight gain. Not getting enough sleep triggers the production of this hormone as well as the stress hormone cortisol which then leads to fats stores around your belly area.
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