Iowa Sleep Blog

How Sleep Restores the Body

Monday, February 23, 2015

Although researchers aren’t exactly sure why different species have different sleep needs, we have learned there are many important things that happen in the body during rest. Each of the unique body systems perform tasks while we sleep that are essential to proper functioning. When you don’t get enough sleep, these jobs are not completed, making your body unable to operate at its highest level.

Here are ten things that happen while you snooze:

  1. Sleeping is prime brain time. While you’re cruising through REM stages, the brain to working to categorize the thoughts, interactions and memories you made throughout the day. Because of this activity, research has shown studying before bed increases your ability to recall the material.
  2. Your internal body temperature drops. In order to regulate, your internal body temperature drops to increase melatonin production and decrease serotonin until it’s needed when you awake. Growth hormones are also released during sleep which assist in repairing muscles, cells and tissues.
  3. “Beauty sleep” is no joke. Your skin benefits greatly from sleep, as you’ve probably noticed a dull tone to your skin when you’re tired. During sleep, the hormone collagen is released, which helps the skin stay smooth and healthy - important for reducing wrinkles!
  4. Strengthen your immune system. Sleep helps restore the body’s immune system to help fight infection. When you’re feeling sleep deprived or have that “worn down feeling” you are more vulnerable to contracting an illness and not being able to fight it off.
  5. Don’t stress out! In today’s crazy, busy world, it’s simple to say that stress levels are high for many adults. Sleep is important to help the body decrease high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and bring it back to a balanced level for the next day.
  6. Recharge the batteries. A major function of sleep is to help the body conserve energy resources. Even though we provide our bodies with fuel in the form of food throughout the day, it doesn’t use just that energy. Like a battery, the body needs to save energy it has created throughout the day and prepare it for future use.
  7. Grow a little! Did you know, when you get up in the morning you’re slightly taller than normal? While you sleep, the discs in your spine rehydrate and get bigger because your body isn’t pressing weight on them like it does when you’re vertical.
  8. Stay on track. A good night of REM sleep is important for the body to stay on track. By sticking to a regular sleep schedule, your internal biological clock, known as the circadian rhythm, correctly regulates when you feel awake and sleepy throughout the day.
  9. Curb your cravings. You’ve also probably noticed how your appetite changes when you don’t get enough sleep. We tend to crave salty, fatty foods that are a bust for balanced diets. Aim to sleep for at least seven hours a night to help curb high-calorie cravings.
  10. Love your heart. Doctors joke your heart is actually the happiest when you’re sleeping. While you sleep, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to circulate blood throughout the body, meaning your blood pressure and heart rate drop.

As you can see, sleep is extremely important to the body and its natural functioning. On average, we spent one third of our lives sleeping. If you are experiencing difficulty falling or staying asleep, reach out to a sleep doctor at Iowa Sleep. Our skilled professionals will help get your sleep schedule back on track and provide support along the way.