Circadian rhythm exerts some influence on the nighttime secretion of growth hormone. These choices are shaped by a variety of factors, such as climate, protection from predators, housing type, technology, personal preference, and the incidence of pests. The sleep environment may be improved by installing heavy drapes to shut out all sunlight, and keeping computers, televisions and work materials out of the sleeping area.
Roger Ekirch thinks that the traditional pattern of " segmented sleep ," as it is called, began to disappear among the urban upper class in Europe in the late 17th century and the change spread over the next years; by the s "the idea of a first and second sleep had receded entirely from our social consciousness.
In some societies, people sleep with at least one other person sometimes many or with animals. In other cultures, people rarely sleep with anyone except for an intimate partner. In almost all societies, sleeping partners are strongly regulated by social standards. For example, a person might only sleep with the immediate family , the extended family , a spouse or romantic partner, children, children of a certain age, children of specific gender, peers of a certain gender, friends, peers of equal social rank, or with no one at all.
Sleep may be an actively social time, depending on the sleep groupings, with no constraints on noise or activity. People sleep in a variety of locations. Some sleep directly on the ground; others on a skin or blanket; others sleep on platforms or beds.
Some sleep with blankets, some with pillows, some with simple headrests, some with no head support.
These choices are shaped by a variety of factors, such as climate, protection from predators, housing type, technology, personal preference, and the incidence of pests. Sleep has been seen in culture as similar to death since antiquity;  in Greek mythology , Hypnos the god of sleep and Thanatos the god of death were both said to be the children of Nyx the goddess of night.
Many cultural stories have been told about people falling asleep for extended periods of time. A far more famous instance of a "long sleep" today is the Christian legend of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus ,  in which seven Christians flee into a cave during pagan times in order to escape persecution ,  but fall asleep and wake up years later to discover, to their astonishment, that the Roman Empire is now predominately Christian. Writing about the thematical representations of sleep in art, physician and sleep researcher Meir Kryger noted: The Sentry by Carel Fabritius.
Diana and Endymion c. Lullaby by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Victory of Faith by Saint George Hare. Zwei schlafende Mädchen auf der Ofenbank Albert Anker. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about sleep in humans. For non-human sleep, see Sleep non-human. For other uses, see Sleep disambiguation. For other uses, see Waking up disambiguation.
Wakefulness and Ascending reticular activating system. Circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Sleep and learning , Sleep and creativity , and Sleep and memory. This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. Taking a Rest by Ilya Repin. Sleeping Jaguar , by Paul Klimsch. Retrieved 24 May Retrieved 25 January How the lightbulb disrupted our sleeping patterns and changed the world".
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Recent findings suggest that sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake. Everyone needs sleep, but its biological purpose remains a mystery. Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the body — from the brain, heart, and lungs to metabolism, immune function, mood, and disease resistance.
Research shows that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of disorders including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Sleep is a complex and dynamic process that affects how you function in ways scientists are now beginning to understand. This booklet describes how your need for sleep is regulated and what happens in the brain during sleep. The hypothalamus , a peanut-sized structure deep inside the brain, contains groups of nerve cells that act as control centers affecting sleep and arousal.
Within the hypothalamus is the suprachiasmatic nucleus SCN — clusters of thousands of cells that receive information about light exposure directly from the eyes and control your behavioral rhythm.
Some people with damage to the SCN sleep erratically throughout the day because they are not able to match their circadian rhythms with the light-dark cycle. The brain stem , at the base of the brain, communicates with the hypothalamus to control the transitions between wake and sleep. The brain stem includes structures called the pons, medulla, and midbrain. Sleep-promoting cells within the hypothalamus and the brain stem produce a brain chemical called GABA , which acts to reduce the activity of arousal centers in the hypothalamus and the brain stem.
The thalamus acts as a relay for information from the senses to the cerebral cortex the covering of the brain that interprets and processes information from short- to long-term memory. During most stages of sleep, the thalamus becomes quiet, letting you tune out the external world. But during REM sleep, the thalamus is active, sending the cortex images, sounds, and other sensations that fill our dreams.
People who have lost their sight and cannot coordinate their natural wake-sleep cycle using natural light can stabilize their sleep patterns by taking small amounts of melatonin at the same time each day.
The basal forebrain , near the front and bottom of the brain, also promotes sleep and wakefulness, while part of the midbrain acts as an arousal system. Release of adenosine a chemical by-product of cellular energy consumption from cells in the basal forebrain and probably other regions supports your sleep drive. Caffeine counteracts sleepiness by blocking the actions of adenosine.
The amygdala , an almond-shaped structure involved in processing emotions, becomes increasingly active during REM sleep. There are two basic types of sleep: Each is linked to specific brain waves and neuronal activity.
Stage 1 non-REM sleep is the changeover from wakefulness to sleep. During this short period lasting several minutes of relatively light sleep, your heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements slow, and your muscles relax with occasional twitches.
Your brain waves begin to slow from their daytime wakefulness patterns. Stage 2 non-REM sleep is a period of light sleep before you enter deeper sleep. Your heartbeat and breathing slow, and muscles relax even further. Your body temperature drops and eye movements stop. Brain wave activity slows but is marked by brief bursts of electrical activity. You spend more of your repeated sleep cycles in stage 2 sleep than in other sleep stages. Stage 3 non-REM sleep is the period of deep sleep that you need to feel refreshed in the morning.
It occurs in longer periods during the first half of the night. Your heartbeat and breathing slow to their lowest levels during sleep. Your muscles are relaxed and it may be difficult to awaken you.
Brain waves become even slower. REM sleep first occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. Your eyes move rapidly from side to side behind closed eyelids.
Mixed frequency brain wave activity becomes closer to that seen in wakefulness. Your breathing becomes faster and irregular, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase to near waking levels. Your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralyzed, which prevents you from acting out your dreams.
As you age, you sleep less of your time in REM sleep. Two internal biological mechanisms —circadian rhythm and homeostasis—work together to regulate when you are awake and sleep. Circadian rhythms direct a wide variety of functions from daily fluctuations in wakefulness to body temperature, metabolism, and the release of hormones.
They control your timing of sleep and cause you to be sleepy at night and your tendency to wake in the morning without an alarm. Circadian rhythms synchronize with environmental cues light, temperature about the actual time of day, but they continue even in the absence of cues.
Sleep-wake homeostasis keeps track of your need for sleep. The homeostatic sleep drive reminds the body to sleep after a certain time and regulates sleep intensity.
This sleep drive gets stronger every hour you are awake and causes you to sleep longer and more deeply after a period of sleep deprivation. Factors that influence your sleep-wake needs include medical conditions, medications, stress, sleep environment, and what you eat and drink.
Perhaps the greatest influence is the exposure to light. Specialized cells in the retinas of your eyes process light and tell the brain whether it is day or night and can advance or delay our sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to light can make it difficult to fall asleep and return to sleep when awakened. Night shift workers often have trouble falling asleep when they go to bed, and also have trouble staying awake at work because their natural circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle is disrupted.
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