The general concept of sleep

Sleep is an essential part of our lives. The state of being in a state of minimal brain and physical activity is of great importance to anyone. We spend almost a third of our lives sleeping. Some scientists have calculated that if a person's life expectancy is 70 years, they spend about 20 years sleeping. Sleep is not only inherent in humans, but also in animals, mammals, insects and fish. Almost all living organisms cannot exist without sleep. It is necessary to find out what sleep actually is. If we consider this question from a medical point of view, sleep is a special state of organism, during which the motor activity and activity of all organs and brain, among others, is reduced to a minimum. The body rests and gains energy by inhibiting the autonomic, nervous and mental systems. When we are awake, our brain maintains this state through impulses that come from various receptors in our body. When the flow of these impulses to the cerebral cortex is restricted, inhibition sets in and thus a state called sleep develops. That is, when we go to sleep, relax and stop motor activity, the brain stops receiving impulses from our legs, arms, eyes, etc. It perceives this as a signal for sleep.

Healthy sleep

Scientists have been working on the physiological origin of sleep for thousands of years. Some scientists have put forward a lot of hypotheses about what sleep is, where it comes from and what it is for. The truest and shortest answer to these questions is that sleep is needed to rest and repair the brain. Sometimes, however, the brain works harder during sleep than when we are awake. This can be seen from the fact that brain activity perceives some external stimuli. Every one of us has noticed at least once that when it is really raining in the night and there is thunder in the street, we can dream that we are standing in the rain or that the peals of thunder are bombs. Aristotle noted the fact that if a sleeping person is touched by a warm object, the person may dream of a fire or a fire. Due to ignorance in ancient times it was believed that a dream is a small death, and if a person wakes up, then his soul returned to him after a night flight, and if not, then the soul was so pleased to arrive in other countries and worlds that it did not want to return to its master. With the development of information progress, the origin of sleep has become clearer to people. It is neither death nor escape from reality. There is an opinion that while we are asleep our brain is supposed to rewrite the information obtained during the day from a short term memory into a long term one. Our short term memory is not long lasting as it is erased by a violent blow to the head or by hypnosis but the long term memory stays in the brain much longer. But if consciousness sleeps only for preservation of information, then how can we explain that while staying awake for a long time, man is not losing his memory but is experiencing waking dreams, that is, hallucinations and when staying awake for 10 days, man may die. We usually sleep for 6 to 8 hours and stay active for 16 to 18 hours. We have acquired this rhythm, i.e. it is a habit, although in fact the natural rhythm of human sleep is an alternation of about 4 hours of sleep and almost the same period of wakefulness as in infants.

The physiology of sleep

Sleep is a physiological process of the body. When sleep occurs, the human brain slows down processes and impulses from all organs. Sleep involves several stages alternating with each other. Before falling asleep, the level of consciousness decreases, some people experience bouts of yawning, sensitivity to external stimuli decreases and brain activity also decreases. Sleep basically consists of two phases - slow and REM sleep. Slow sleep, or in other words orthogonal sleep, is characterised by a state of half-asleep, dozing, daydreaming or fast, very realistic dream-like hallucinations. A special polysomnograph, which monitors a person's internal sleep, notes the different waves of slow-wave sleep. Slow dreaming itself is divided into several stages. The first stage is marked by the appearance of theta and delta waves. In the second stage sigma rhythms appear and the human consciousness shuts down. The third stage is almost indistinguishable from the second. Deep sleep appears during the fourth stage of slow dreaming. The third and fourth stages are distinctly delta oscillations of high amplitude. During these periods, a person is least able to perceive external stimuli and is not easily awakened, with nearly 75% of dreams occurring during this period. According to many scientists and physicians, slow dreaming is necessary to recover the energy used throughout the day. All stages of slow dreaming take up around 80% of the night's sleep.

Now we should consider the next stage of sleep. Slow sleep is followed by REM sleep. Paradoxical sleep, otherwise known as REM sleep, takes up about 25% of a person's total healthy sleep. For a long time, the existence of this type of sleep was not known at all.

It was not until 1953 that Kleitman and his collaborator Acerinsky discovered that there was a 5th stage of sleep. On the polysomnograph, it appears as a rapid oscillation of beta waves. It means that this state resembles the waking state in all parameters, but the person is in a very deep sleep.

It is during this period of sleep that the person's eyes move rapidly, which is why this sleep is sometimes referred to as RBD sleep. Most often, RBD and the onset of dreams are directly related to each other. This means that if a person is woken up during a REM sleep phase, they will remember their dream and be able to talk about it in detail. However, one should not often interrupt a REM sleep, as this can lead to severe physical and mental disorders. It is believed that a REM sleep provides the function of the psychological defense, it recycles information, as well as accompanying its exchange between consciousness and subconscious. However, there are other versions of the necessity of REM sleep. A hypothesis has emerged that the main purpose of REM sleep is to periodically stimulate brain activity. In this way, a minimum level of central nervous system activity is maintained during the entire duration of sleep, and the brain and central nervous system are prepared for awakening.

We have reviewed the stages of sleep. However, now we need to find out why sleep occurs. In this day and age, there is a shortage of time. Is it possible to do without sleep at all? The answer to this question is absolutely certain: no, a man can not exist without night sleep, it leads to mental disorders and some physiological disorders. According to sleep theory, which is supported by many somnologists, special substances are produced in the blood during our waking hours, to induce sleep. The validity of this theory has been proven by studies and experiments. Scientists conducted experiments on dogs. The scientists did the following: they took a blood sample from a dog that had been kept awake for more than a day and transfused it to a dog that was awake. At the same time, as soon as a normal dog received the blood of a tired dog, it immediately fell asleep. Later it became possible to isolate substances that have a hypnotic effect on the body. One such substance is a peptide that induces delta sleep. However, these substances alone could not be considered the only factor for the emergence of sleep. As there are cases described in practice where Siamese inseparable twins shared a common circulatory system, but could sleep at different times.

In addition to the theory of sleep-inducing substances, there is a theory related to the subcortical and cortical parts of the brain. The presence of the subcortical layer of the brain, which is solely responsible for sleep, may confirm the fact that people with various cerebral, brainstem and subcortical abnormalities suffer from sleep disorders. Again, experiments in which animals were irritated with posterior structures of the hypothalamus and subthalamus showed that many animals fell asleep when irritated and woke up after the irritation had stopped. The results of this experiment show a clear presence of sleep centres in these structures. Only Anokhin's cortical-cortical theory of sleep explains the origin and onset of sleep. This theory attributes sleep to a decrease in upward activating effects of the reticular formation on the cerebral cortex.

Sleep disturbances

To understand the importance of a healthy sleep it is worth knowing about some sleep disorders. In our modern world we pay too little attention to our health, to eating a proper diet. Stresses, excessive work schedule, polluted megapolises - all these things weaken our immunity and nervous system immensely. The consequence of this is a huge problem of improper sleep hygiene. We sometimes forget how important it is to maintain the same sleep routine. Many people try to eat a big meal before going to bed due to lack of time, and alcohol and nicotine before going to bed worsen the quality of sleep. Almost half of the world's population suffers from insomnia and many other sleep disorders. But there are also many congenital disorders related to sleep. However, there are many more people who have acquired various sleep disorders than those who are congenital.

There are many different sleep disorders, but we will look at the most common ones.

Insomnia is a condition that affects about 1 in 5 people in the world between the ages of 25 and 75. There are several different types of insomnia, but this does not mean that people who suffer from insomnia just can't sleep. Difficulty falling asleep, frequent interruptions of sleep, waking up earlier without being able to fall asleep again, and poor quality of sleep are all symptoms and the main types of insomnia.

However, if a person feels weakness, sleepiness, headache and malaise - it does not mean that he suffers from insomnia. All this may be due to lack of sleep, or a deterioration in the quality of sleep for some reason. If this condition lasts for more than a week, you should be alert because it may be a manifestation of a sleep disorder. Insomnia is more common in elderly people and women. The next sleep disorder I want to look at is narcolepsy. It is a disorder that often has a huge impact on a person's quality of life, his nervous system, and can make a person disabled. Narcolepsy is a condition characterised by sleepiness during the day, as well as a person constantly wanting to sleep and often at inappropriate times. This disorder has recently learned to be diagnosed and successfully treated. However, a definitive cure for narcolepsy has not yet been found.

Another sleep disorder is nocturnal apnoea. This disorder is manifested by partial or complete collapse of the upper airways during night sleep. Often the person does not even notice this disorder, according to relatives, who may observe that the person stops breathing for a while during sleep. During sleep, the muscles in the pharynx relax, making the airways more prone to collapse. The negative air pressure created by the lungs in the narrowed airways can cause them to collapse, similar to the way a straw flattens and collapses if you squeeze one end of it and pull air on the other. When the airways are closed, there is no breathing and the oxygen level drops. In order to start breathing again, the person has to wake up briefly, which will eventually cause a restless sleep.

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Some people have jet lag, a disorder known as jet lag. People who travel a lot or who travel long distances and visit different countries often suffer from jet lag. This is due to the fact that a person travels in several time zones very quickly when travelling by plane, and the time rhythm is disrupted in the new location, i.e. one has to sleep in the hours when one would normally be awake, and vice versa. Our internal clock controls what is known as circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms mean that they have a certain periodicity equal to 24 hours. It is through these rhythms that our body becomes sleepy or awake again at regular intervals at certain times. Therefore it is not possible to reset this internal clock like the mechanical clock we wear on our wrist. Sleep disturbances, sleepiness during the day and wakefulness at night, gastrointestinal problems and nausea are usually signs of jet lag. However, this syndrome is temporary and goes away after a few days, when the body gets used to the new rhythm.

One of the occupational sleep disorders is night shift work disorder. This disorder occurs in people who have to work at a time when the body should be resting. Night sleep cannot be replaced by day sleep, nor by short periods of sleep and wakefulness. Again the internal clock of man is disrupted. This clock works depending on the sunlight, and when the human body is awake at night, it negatively affects the human body.

Parasomnia - in other words, called "sleep terrors". A person suffering from this disorder wakes up violently during sleep, sometimes screaming and struggling, and has a very hard time coming out of the dream. This is accompanied by rapid breathing and heartbeat, sweating and sometimes violent attacks. Sleepwalking is also one of the most common sleep disorders. Sleepwalking is manifested by unwanted events that occur during sleep. In the past, such people were called sleepwalkers and attributed their strange behaviour at night to the influence of the moon. Sleepwalkers may get up at night and walk around the room while dreaming. Sleepwalking attacks also manifest as complex movements, rough or aggressive impulses. Many people do not remember in the morning what they did during the night. This particular disorder is the most traumatic for the person, since all the activities take place in their sleep and it is very difficult to wake the person directly during the attack. All the sleep disorders I have described occur for different reasons and are treated differently. It is important to remember that hygiene and proper sleeping habits can prevent the development of any disorder.

Sleep and dreams

In this chapter, I would like to discuss the origin of dreams as a result of memory and imagination. When the human brain is at rest, it continues to process information from outside. Certain parts of the brain continue to work intensively. It is possible to judge about it by that D.I.Mendeleev saw the formula of the periodic table in his dream. However, it is not the most reliable confirmation of brain work during sleep. With the development of science, medicine and modern technology, it has become possible to look inside the processes occurring during sleep and dreams themselves. Scientists have established that dreams are a consequence of our impressions, feelings, external stimuli, temperament and state of health.

The occurrence of dreams can be attributed to three factors. First, it can be a consequence of those experiences, events, experiences that a person has experienced in the past. Secondly, dreams may arise with the participation of external stimuli. And finally, the nature of sleep is also due to the presence of internal stimuli. On what particular organ of the human body is overworked or be in poor health, a person may have a dream associated with this part of the heart. People with a heart condition are more likely to have unpleasant and sometimes frightening dreams.

It is not uncommon to hear a person say that they do not dream at all. However, this is not possible. The secret of dreaming simply lies in the process of fast sleep.

According to research, if a person is woken up as soon as they fall into a rapid phase, they will quickly remember and can tell their dream in great detail. If a person wakes up during sleep, for whatever reason, he may say in the morning that he dreamt today, and if he did not wake up all night, it seems to him that he did not dream today. It is not necessary to investigate with sophisticated devices, even with the naked eye one can notice the rapid phase of sleep. During this period, a person's eyes begin to move quickly, they behave restlessly, and anxiety is evident. Many scientists have wondered how important dreams are for humans. Many volunteers were subjected to the following experiments. During sleep, exactly during the phase of REM sleep, the person was awakened, this was repeated every night, i.e. the person was artificially prevented from dreaming. The first reaction of the human body and the attempts to bring back dreams was as follows: the phase of short sleep occurred after a shorter period of time, i.e. more frequent. After a week, a person who had decided to dream became irritable, their appetite decreased, and feelings of fear, anxiety and insecurity appeared. From this we can conclude that dreams are necessary for human beings. It is an essential part of our lives, as necessary as breathing, heartbeat and digestion.

There is some evidence that the content of dreams is not as meaningless as many people think. There is such a thing as "dream-diagnosis", i.e. a person may dream that he is ill with a disease long before he actually falls ill with it. This is also confirmed by the fact that the incubation period of a real disease coincides with the time when the person has a dream about an impending illness. Therefore, in that our brain, having received information from this or that organ about its condition, sends a signal and generates associative information, which is transmitted in the form of dreams.

Healthy sleep

Man's interest in dreams began quite a long time ago. However, in ancient times people interpreted dreams in their own way. They found divine signs in them. Professional interest in dreams began to appear later. This can be marked by the work of the Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. He found his own approach to explaining the phenomenon of dreams. To his contemporaries he was a ray of light, but to an older generation of his colleagues, his writings were little more than delusions. Our dreams, in their nature, almost always correspond to the status of the person, his profession, mental activity, physical condition, sex and age of the sleeper. That is why usually rich people dream of luxury and various pleasures, while poor people dream of poverty, hard work, problems and difficult situations. However, you do not always need to take dreams seriously and try to adjust their meaning.

The content of dreams in many cases may also depend on external stimuli. The role of such stimuli can be light, sound, touch, smell. According to stories and observations by the French scientist Maury, if a person is given a whiff of perfume or other incense in his sleep, he can instantly dream of a perfume shop or of the countries with which that smell is associated. This has been described in numerous books by Mori, in another of his experiences, Mori illuminated a person's face with a bright red light in his sleep and afterwards the person talked about the lightning or thunderstorm he saw in his dream. All these facts support the theory that external factors affect the functioning of the brain and the impulses produced by certain stimuli on the person asleep are instantly reflected in the content of the dream. In many ways, research into the nature of dreams is still an incompletely elucidated phenomenon in the human body. One thing is certain that dreams are a product of our brain, the most perfect organ of the human body. It is the brain that is responsible for the process and content of our dreams, whatever dream we have seen, it is essential for the proper functioning of our nervous system, as well as for human life in general.

Healthy sleep and sleep hygiene rules

As I have already found out, a disturbance in sleep and wakefulness as well as in sleep hygiene leads to sleep disorders, which are sometimes very difficult to cure without consequences. Even one day without sleep makes a person more irritable, gives rise to headaches and sometimes the body's thermoregulation is disrupted. From this we can conclude that a healthy sleep is a guarantee of well-being and beauty. Since ancient times, people have sought to protect sleep, as they believed that it is during sleep the human body is youthful and energised.

The modern world demands full commitment from man, in recent years the quality of sleep has deteriorated sharply almost one in four people in the world. The high rhythm of life, self-sacrifice, household chores, as well as work, sometimes take up too much time and there is only a minimum amount of time left for sleep. In these times of stress, chronic fatigue and time pressure, we often prefer to sleep a few hours too little and still have time for everything.

Sad as it may be, we can't do everything, but a lack of proper sleep sooner or later has an adverse effect on our mental and physical health. As a result, we find it difficult to fall asleep even when we want to - turning from side to side, thinking over our problems.

Healthy sleep is the best natural remedy for self-care, and the face of a person who regularly lacks sleep can tell you a lot. We humans, like all children of nature live by a biological clock and obey the periodicity of activity and rest. How well a person sleeps depends on many factors.

Here and external stimuli, and the specific mental state of the person, as well as some internal diseases cause problems with sleep. Why is it necessary to pay quite a lot of attention to sleep hygiene? That is very easy to explain. From a physiological point of view, it is sleep that transforms the protein we consume into proteins, which every cell in our body absorbs. It is most likely for this reason that sleep is believed to help maintain beauty.

To begin with, we need to find out what prevents our body from getting a quality, deep and healthy sleep. Each of us is familiar with the habit of spending the whole evening watching TV. Our brain is held hostage by the flood of information that clogs our thoughts before we go to sleep. Watching TV takes away precious hours of sleep, and also causes chronic lack of sleep, which subsequently causes chronic fatigue. According to numerous opinion polls, the dominant answer to the question of what you did in the last 2 hours before going to bed was watching TV. Decreased sleep at night leads to obesity, fatigue, depression, and even premature mortality. From all of the above, we can conclude that one factor in improving the quality of sleep is to reduce the time spent in front of the television at night. Many people, due to a busy day at home, rush to eat a hearty bedtime meal. Eating just before going to bed causes uncomfortable dreams, problems falling asleep and intestinal discomfort in the morning. To all this overeating before bedtime fatty and heavy food leads to an increase in body weight, in other words, fats during the night sleep are not digested into useful carbohydrates, and are deposited as fat. However, falling asleep on an empty stomach is also not recommended. Hungry people sleep more sensitively and often wake up during a night's sleep. The best thing is a light dinner, mainly consisting of vegetables and fruit. They are easier to digest and digest without harming the human body and without disturbing a healthy night's sleep. Alcohol and smoking excite the nervous system and also prevent sleep from fulfilling its main function, which is to restore the energy expended throughout the day. Instead of consuming such stimuli, it is advisable to take a walk before going to bed outdoors or to do some light exercise. Sedentary lifestyle reduces the quality of sleep, using sleeping pills does not help, they only temporarily make the body sleep normally, sleeping pills are also addictive. No sleeping pills can replace walking or playing outdoors. It is also important to sleep, which means going to bed and getting up at certain hours. Our body, as I said earlier, works according to a biological clock, and any change in this clock regime leads to sleep disturbances. It is not advisable to drink strong tea, carbonated drinks, coffee and a lot of water just before going to bed. The temperature regime also affects the quality of sleep. Sleep in a well ventilated room; stuffy air and lack of oxygen disturbs the brain, which then leads to sleep disorders.

Great attention must be paid to the bed, pillow and mattress. It is advisable to sleep on the floor. The pillow should not be too soft and at the same time not too hard. Many people, especially those with spinal disorders, should sleep without a pillow. The linen should be fresh and clean, don't cover your head, and don't sleep in a draught. All these tips will help sleep to perform its basic functions. Before you go to bed, you need to be completely relaxed. Many somnologists recommend doing something that calms the nervous system before going to bed. No loud noises, walk around the room, listen to relaxing music, brush your hair. After a night of healthy sleep a person feels alert and rested in the morning, and during the day a person does not feel drowsy or tired. Sleep deprivation leads to depression and the subsequent disorders that I wrote about in one of the chapters of the paper. The clinical picture of depression consists of affective, motor, vegetative and dyssomniac disorders, which makes the problem of sleep disorders one of the most important issues in this case. That is why it is necessary to obey the rules of sleep hygiene and to keep a healthy sleep throughout one's life.


In conclusion, we should say that sleep is an integral part of our life. There are so many factors that affect the quality of sleep. Only by following all the rules of healthy sleep, one can safely say that one will be fully functional while awake. Human sleep remains in many ways a mystery. Much has been done in the study of the process, but there is still much to be understood and studied. It is sleep that brings us happiness, beauty and health. It is a sound and healthy sleep that brings success, both at work and in our personal lives. All people dream while sleeping. Dreams are a special product of our memory, impressions and feelings. The content of a dream may depend on external and internal factors. When a person is ill, impulses from one organ or another are transmitted to the brain, carrying with them information about the state of health. External factors such as sounds, smells, temperature and many other factors cause dreams to change their content. Sleep deprivation makes a person irritable, susceptible to illness as immunity is reduced.

Many sleep disorders are very difficult to diagnose and some are almost impossible to cure. A person's mental state becomes very fragile if they sleep less than 7 hours a day and do not follow any of the rules I have listed above.

There are many methods to improve one's sleep. One should only follow the regime, not abuse alcohol and nicotine and eat no more than three hours before going to bed. A person should also pay special attention to the place where they sleep. A comfortable bed, pillow and mattress are a guarantee of health and a restful sleep. If before going to sleep thinking about the problems that await us tomorrow the brain will be given the command to excitement and irritation, which will adversely affect our health the next day, it will not give the brain to restore the forces fully. Many scientists give a huge amount of advice on how to keep and get healthy sleep, but no advice will help if we ourselves do not realise how important it is for us. Everyone who cares about their health should take more time to normalise their sleep process. This will also help prevent many of the diseases and disorders that await anyone who does not pay much attention to their sleep.

By: Dr. Chloe Mura

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