Our favourite words of the day: Good Night

Sleeping and waking up follow a natural rhythm. We sleep in different phases during the night. And our organism is extremely sensitive to irregularities. One of the key messages we need to appreciate is:

You can’t do without sleep

Even if there are people who try to prove the opposite in all sorts of experiments: at some point they will all close their eyes. We need sleep. To thrive. To feel content. To focus. To concentrate. And to simply be alive.

It is no secret anymore that sleep deprivation can trigger lack a long list of disorders: Starting from lack of focus & concentration and reduced mental performance. If sleep deprivation continues over a longer period of time, people have experience a lack of sleep will become increasingly irritable, moody to the point of changing their personality and suffer from personality disorders and suicidal thoughts. Muscle tension, breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature, hormones, metabolism and other functions become confused if the natural rhythm of sleeping and waking is disturbed in the long term. It is serious! And we should not feel obliged to feel proud if we worked again through the entire sleep and been coping on little to no sleep.

The normal sleep rhythm follows the alternation between day and night

A large part of the processes in the body adapt to the alternation between day and night (circadian rhythm over 24 hours) and enable us to wake up in the morning and tired in the evening. Certain groups of nerve cells in the brain, which have connections to the optic nerves and also to other brain areas, play an important role. Day and night, light and dark have a direct influence on the sleep-wake rhythm.

The coordinated nerve signals regulate the ups and downs of hormones, body temperature and certain chemical substances that are also involved in the immune system. At night, for example, the hormone melatonin and growth hormones are released, which promote sleep. They decrease in the morning when the hormone cortisol increases, which makes us wake up. Thus you don’t need a coffee first thing in the morning, as you are still ‘high on cortisol’.

Simultaneously, the body temperature also increases. It sinks again towards evening so that we can sleep better. Incidentally, the body temperature also shows a brief interim low during the day, in the early afternoon. Ever feeling sleeping during the early afternoon? Many people feel tired at this time, and it is a normal natural rhythm that our body goes through. Those who like and can take a short lunch break – go for it! It is natural and you do yourself a favour. However, most people are not able to as it doesn’t fit into our modern lifestyle where we need to be constantly on alert and wide awake.

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The stages of sleep: light sleep and deep sleep alternate. In between, first shorter, then longer, are the REM phases (red lines)

In summary

Sleep is essential to us humans. And yet, we dismiss is as we believe it takes away productive hours we could use to work. But as so often one needs to step away from work, and slow down before one can be productive again. As always it is a balancing act. There is a reason, why we need to close our eyes to allow our body to recover and regenerate. If we don’t do this, important processes in our body & mind will shut down.

There are two basic stages of sleep: REM and NREM

Sleep is characterized by two basic stages in which the central nervous system and various body functions are correspondingly active or less active, in order to enable relaxation and regeneration during sleep.

In one of these sleep stages, the sleeper quickly moves their eyes back and forth under the closed lids. Doctors therefore speak of REM sleep (rapid eye movement). At this stage we dream particularly vividly. That