|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Healthcare Mental health|
The period of sleep, quantified by about 1/3 of a person's day and their entire lives, does not necessarily mean mental and physical rest. This period is an essential factor in the average human functioning and should not be overlooked. It is a period where the human body rests, but the human mind is at work processing occurrences of the day; however, this is a layman's definition. In detail, sleep is a naturally occurring and recurring state of our human existence which exhibits a low reaction to stimuli, secondary consciousness, the reticence of majority of the voluntary muscles, ostensibly no physical interaction with a person's surrounding and most importantly, dreams (Kilduff & Dan, 2017). It is however not as complicated as it sounds like it is manageable and reversible since if these conditions were permanent, the individual would be declared to be in a state of comatose.
The sleep period is integrated into all the body system and the entire genetic makeup of the body. In this manner, it affects each part of our bodies. The process of sleep also involves the significant number of biological processes entirely. First among these is the hypothalamus which influences the reception of light into our eyes. The light/dark cycle is essential to dictate one's sleep pattern, and this is all regulated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus within the hypothalamus (Dzierzewski, Dautovich & Ravyts, 2018). The reception of light controls the cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm into the eyes whereby at the response of a lower amount of view, the brain communicates to the rest of the body that it is nearly time for sleep.
This information from the suprachiasmatic nucleus is thus relayed to the pineal gland, and the pineal gland goes into the increased production of melatonin which is the hormone responsible for the condition of being asleep or awake (Dzierzewski, Dautovich & Ravyts, 2018). Increased melatonin will be pumped into the blood, and this results in lower levels of alertness and tiredness in the eyes. This then notifies the person that they need to sleep. The melatonin, which begins to be circulated in the blood at around p.m. (National sleep foundation) stays in the blood for roughly 12 hours and thus is nearly wholly cleared at approximately 9 am. This is however subject to each's circadian rhythm. During the day, melatonin is hardly produced due to the constant light that is detected by our systems.
In addition to this, the Basal forebrain, which is a part of the brain located at the lower front or to be specific, at the front of and below the striatum also plays a role in promoting the sleep. It releases adenosine from its cells which triggers sleepiness. Adenosine is a by-product of the cellular energy consumed in the form of adenosine triphosphate, and depletion of the same leads to high adenosine builds up in one's body (Dzierzewski, Dautovich & Ravyts, 2018). Once released, this vast amount of adenosine quickly triggers sleep and thus acts as a catalyst for sleepiness
Furthermore, to control brain function and the thought process as one sleeps the body quiets down the thalamus. The thalamus aids in the conveying of information to the cerebral cortex which in turn converts this information from short-term memory to long-term memory. This enables the person to sleep. However, as one sleeps, the thalamus then again becomes active transmitting the composition of sounds, images, and sensations that are constituted of our dreams (Kilduff & Dan, 2017).
Finally, the brainstem is also integral to the sleep process. It is tasked with sending signals to relax muscles used for movements and controlling physical body stance to shut them down and prevent them from being in use as we visualize our dreams during REM sleep. This translate to not "acting out" our thoughts as we envision them in our minds and instead experience them.
The first and most obvious function is the function of restoration. This is mostly performed through the removal of metabolic waste and repair of damaged cells and tissue. On the removal of metabolic waste, sleep is associated, and through experiments has been proven to result in removal of potentially neurotoxic debris that accumulates during the persons wake moments (Xie et al., 2013). These toxins including the adenosine mentioned above are flushed out of the system or broken down into harmless substances. This occurs during something known as slow wave sleep or REM sleep. During this period, metabolic processes are slowed, i.e., oxygen consumption, heart rate, and body temperature are decreased. These slower processes result in less physical and mental processes. This allows the brain to have peaceful restoration and the rest of the body can restore later during a quiescent waking period. This is the period near full awareness that is characterized by physical dormancy and inactivity.
Physical recovery and restoration are characterized by repair of worn out tissue and damaged cells. This occurs during quiescent waking or non-REM sleep. As earlier stated, this sleep is not rooted and has a relative level of consciousness. Thus, dreams are rare in this sleep phase. The cell and tissue repair are possible during this time as the muscles are still relatively disabled and therefore can heal and regenerate in the restoration of any damage or just general fatigue they have gone through while in use during the day.
The process of sleep also sees the processing of memories. As we earlier stated, the cerebral cortex is tasked with the function of converting short-term memory into long-term memory. This is the processing of all the experiences and memories that a person has gained through their entire day. This relates to learning and understanding of new information learned and organization of all other minds. The cerebral cortex thus uses maximum brain output for this function and the best time for this is as the individual sleeps when no further information is being taken in (Dzierzewski, Dautovich & Ravyts, 2018). The cortex may also be tasked with converting this information into dreams, and this may give the person better understanding the experiences and knowledge. This entire function is carried out during REM sleep which creates the best conditions.
Besides, sleep caters for the rest of the cardiovascular system. This does not technically mean that the system stops, but it is instead slowed down by a significant rate. This is marked at 20-30% reduction in blood pressure and 10-20% reduction in heart rate (Kilduff & Dan, 2017). This gives the persons cardiovascular system a chance to rebuild its muscles and equip them for another day of maximum functionality. Finally, sleep is credited for the increase of blood cells. Proper sleep results in a higher blood cell count as the rest allows for the growth of blood cells and for the body to generate white blood cells to deal with any illnesses (Xie et al., 2013).
Dzierzewski, J., Dautovich, N., & Ravyts, S. (2018). Sleep and Cognition in Older Adults. Sleep Medicine Clinics, 13(1), 93-106. Doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2017.09.009
Kilduff, T., & Dan, Y. (2017). Editorial overview: Neurobiology of sleep 2017. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 44, A1-A3. Doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2017.05.020
Xie, L., Kang, H., Xu, Q., Chen, M., Liao, Y., & Thiyagarajan, M. et al. (2013). Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain. Science, 342(6156), 373-377. Doi: 10.1126/science 1241224
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