Sleep is one of the basic requirements of our life. Though sleep is a way to give rest to the body, in reality, the body does not really rest as it is constantly working, even in our deepest sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, when the body enters the deepest state of sleep, the blood pressure drops, the breathing slows, muscles relax and hormones, including those that help us grow and develop, are released. The rapid eye movement stage is also when our muscles are “turned off,” which makes our bodies immobile. However, these are not the only functions of the body, there are many other functions too.
In sleep, the digestive systems continue regulating levels of the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin helps “inhibit hunger and regulate energy balance” while ghrelin stimulates appetite and controls the release of insulin, according to the Hormone Health Network.
When the body does not get enough sleep, it can throw off the balance of these hormones, which could explain why people can get pretty ravenous the day after a sleepless night.
Eyes become cleaner
Sleeping eyes are famous for rapid eye movement, but they are even busier when at sleep. The crusties or mucus that accumulate in their corners overnight come from our eyelids cleaning us out.
During sleep, the discarded cells, mucus and other waste, like the bacteria, oil from the eyelids and dust, are collected overnight as the eyelids clean eyes. The eyelids close like a zipper, from the side of the cheek towards the nose. While doing this, the eyelids push tears across the eye, picking up all the different waste materials along the way.
It’s a repair workshop
During sleep, our body releases human growth hormone which assists in growth and repair muscles and bones. In sleep, every tissue of the body is renewed faster than when a person is awake. The body also produces testosterone and fertility hormones and sleep relaxes the muscles to further allow restoration.
Strong defence system
Sleep is a natural way to boost the immune system. As per the National Cancer Institute, the body produces certain proteins that help in fighting infection, including an agent called tumor necrosis factor that may kill some types of tumor cells, during sleep.
Studies have found that average amount of sleep deprivation reduces the levels of white blood cells, which is a part of the body’s defence system. Researchers have observed that people who stay up until 3am have one-third fewer cells containing tumor necrosis factor the next day, and the effectiveness of the remaining decreases tremendously.
Keeps stress away
In sleep, the body lowers its levels of cortisol, a steroid hormone linked to stress, among many other functions, like regulating the cardiovascular system. According to the Hormone Health Network, when the levels are too high, then it can add to the changes in a woman’s libido and menstrual cycle and possibly be linked to anxiety and depression.
Beauty sleep, indeed
Ladies, this maybe of your concer, as during sleep, the skin works on restoration of its own. More skin cells are produced and the skin slows down its breakdown of proteins, allowing greater growth and repair. Thus, it has been observed that deep sleep may indeed be beauty sleep. However, as a word of caution, day time nap is not considered as beauty sleep. The reason being that the energy needed for tissue repair is not available in daylight because it is used elsewhere.