Simple Science

What Happens While We Sleep?

Sleeping Hawaiian Monk SealPhoto by Jared Wong

Every night, we close our eyes and go to “dream world”. When we wake up, it seems to us that we came back out of the way, except that we do not know what was really happening to us.

Often, we just know what we have dreamed of, or that we were cold or hot. But what we were doing, what was going on with our bodies while we slept – we do not know.

Of course, our muscles relax. If somebody, while we were sleeping, slowly raised our hands, it would fell limply on the pillow. We sleep in a horizontal position to enable muscle relaxation. However, a group of muscles around the eyes and eyelids do not relax during sleep. These muscles are tightened to keep our eyes closed.

During a night of sleep our bodies do a lot of motion. Some people more roll over in their sleep, some less, and it often depends on how critical we are tired, what is the temperature in the room, what we ate before going to bed, etc. One usually makes around 20 to 40 movements during the night, but your movements only last for about 30 seconds every hour throughout the night.

When we are awake, each of us behaves differently to external events, but when we sleep, we all respond almost the same way to messages we receive with our senses. Noise, light, heat, odors, cause virtually almost the same answers to all the sleeping persons.

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What is happening in our body while we sleep? Blood, of course, continues to circulate, but the heart beats slower. And we breathe slow and varies in depth of breathing than when we are awake. Digestion is done with its usual speed. The liver and kidneys continue to work, ah, a little slower. The temperature of the body is reduced for a whole degree. Sweating can largely be enhanced, but less on the palms of hands and soles of the feet, than when we are awake.

During the night our dream can change and move from light to deep, and vice versa, and that many times.

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