Up until fairly recently, we haven’t had a complete picture of why exactly people need to sleep; and more particularly, the role that dreaming plays in our overall health. We know that the body gets much needed rest from a good night’s sleep on a luxury mattress, but the mind seems to keep on operating.
As it turns out, there is a very important and particular reason why we sleep and why we dream; and it has a lot to do with retaining our mental health and building our memories. Let’s take a look at how sleep affects a number of important brain functions.
Thy hypothalamus, which is responsible for controlling energy patterns through light exposure (using the eyes), allows the brain to work out its circadian rhythm, which gives us our sleeping patterns.
The Brain Stem
The brain stem is responsible for a few functions while we sleep. Firstly it serves to paralyse the body during sleep, giving the body rest and stopping it from reacting to stimulus while we dream. It does this by cycling a chemical called GABA, which reduces arousal in the hypothalamus, allowing for sleep to occur.
During REM sleep the thalamus is quite active, and that is why we dream. Recent research has pointed to a correlation between the this function and the creation of human memories.
This function is so important for memory, in fact, that without adequate sleep, people actually start to create false memories.
The Pineal Gland
During sleep, the pineal gland produces a chemical called melatonin, which assists with a natural wake-sleep cycle.
The Basal Forebrain
This part of the brain produces a chemical by-product from energy consumption, called adenosine. This chemical creates that sleepy feeling that warns your body that it is time for rest. It is interesting to note that consuming caffeine prohibits the production of adenosine, which is why it makes you feel more energetic.
The amygdala, which is essential for processing emotions, becomes extremely active during REM sleep, which is why dreams are often characterised by the emotions they contain. This also helps the mind to regulate moods during waking hours; which is why a lack of sleep can have a dire effect on emotions.
Get a Great Night’s Sleep with Sealy Posturepedic
To get the best night’s sleep you can, for a healthy body and mind, contact a representative from Sealy Posturepedic today, or visit our website for additional details.