What Happens When We Sleep?

You spend so much of your life sleeping (around 26 years!), yet I can guarantee most of you reading this will not know much about what is actually happening when you get in your usual forty winks.

In all fairness, I didn’t have much prior knowledge as to what really takes place, mainly because when I am asleep, am not consciously thinking about why I am doing this and how does it happen. But when I was contacted about writing a post on this subject, it did intrigue me to find out more information. So I hope that this little insight into

So I hope that this little insight into the slumber world will help you to understand just how vital a good nights sleep actually is.

First of all, let’s break this down….

Exactly why do we sleep?

Scientists have been doing complex research into the precise reason why human beings need to sleep and why we have done it since day one. They have not come to a finite conclusion yet, however, it is clear that it is an instinctive process that we do just as eating and reproducing offspring is.

Sleep itself can be broken down into two broad stages, NREM non-rapid eye movement and REM rapid eye movement. We spent the majority of our sleep in the NREM stage, which is where electrical patterns in the brain called ‘sleep spindles’ characterise how deep our sleep is.NREM

The importance of NREM 
Without NREM we would have decreased memory capacity for both short and long term memories. We would also prevent the growth process and the hormones that are needed to reproduce and repair cells.  Although we may not be entirely concious or able to remember any of this stage, this is the most crucial element of sleep as it is where our bodies do all the hard work to keep our health at optimal levels.

Dream a little REM
This stage is where your imagination really does run wild, and creates those totally bizarre scenarios that you can’t etch out of your mind for days, otherwise known as dreams. Here we really start to connect to our emotions and experience really vivid imagery that makes us feels as though we are really living it.

Some scientists see this as a safe place for us to deal with certain situations that we may face in reality such as a confrontation at work or more extreme things such as saving your own life. There are other scientists who see this as a way to unlearn memories or unwanted emotions. But either way, this where dreams are made!


Deprivation of Sleep 

At some point in everyone’s life, there will be times when they suffer greatly from not getting a good sleep on a regular basis. The consequences of being deprived can range from being minor or critical. As mentioned earlier, without sleep human beings would not survive at all so that in itself should tell us how important it is to prioritise our sleep. Though I still think its worth mentioning some of the negative effects that can occur:

  • Immune system will be put at risk of optimal functioning (Redwine)
  • Lack of concerntration and memory retention
  • Mental Health issues can occur or be worsened by lack of sleep
  • Mood swings are very common due to the horomone inbalance
  • Lack of energy to complete even the most basic of daily tasks

I could go on and on, but the aim of this post is not to send you to sleep so I will stop now!

Tips for a healthy and happy nights sleep

As I have taken you through all the facts of why we need it, I owe it to give out some of my own tips and advice on how to ensure you keep a healthy routine in and around your sleep. The average adult needs between 7-9 hours every single night to function at their best, so if you are struggling to do this, here are a few ideas to help you:

  • Routine 
    Setting yourself a reasonable time to go to sleep every day is one of the most important steps to guaranteeing you get in enough shut-eye. Your internal body clock will learn to adjust itself the more you continue going to bed at the same time, and soon enough you will find yourself growing tired naturally around then.
  • Write a To-Do List
    Many of us go to bed with so many thoughts from the day spinning around which will lead to us staying up even longer. I always make sure to write down in my Happiness Planner all the good things that have happened that day and then all that I need to do for the next day. This helps me to feel more positive about the day and in a good frame of mind for the morning.
  • Wind Down
    The time may be the first priority but you can’t just simply switch off at that exact moment. In order to set yourself up for bed, you should do your best to wind down and cease to do any of your daily activities so your brain recognises you want to relax enough to go to sleep. Trying a simple activity such as a word search, sudoku, or reading a good book will take your mind away from any stresses or thoughts from the day and prepare you for sleep.
  • Create a relaxing environment
    It may seem fairly obvious, but this is something that is so often missed out as part of a bedtime routine. If you spend too much of the daylight hours in the room you try to sleep in, chances are your brain will not be registering this as a place to relax. Try keeping your room tidy (tidy room, tidy mind) and create your own personal space to make you feel comfortable and content.
    Also listening to calming sounds such as ocean waves, birds singing or relaxation music can really add to the atomsphere you are trying to create.
  • Switch off incandescent lights
    Personally, I find artificial lights too much for bedtime, so I always aim to have my room lit with either candle light or the main lights on a dimmer switch. Also turning off your TV and flipping your phone over so the screen doesn’t light up the room during the night, as this type of lighting keeps your brain highly activated (for as tempting as it is to check Facebook/Instagram!).
  • Comfortable bed
    This is another must have for good sleep; a very cozy bed. If you aren’t comfortable how can you expect to snuggle down and send yourself off to dreamland? Getting a supportive mattress for your whole body and that suits your preferences will encourage that restful night’s sleep without too much tossing and turning. Choosing a reputable brand such as Leesa will further ensure this.


If you have any useful tips or tricks to help you get to sleep I would love to hear about them so please leave a comment below!



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