Published: 01/03/2013 - Updated: 08/13/2019
Author: Miriam Reyes
Why do we sleep? And why do we dream? Sleep is a vital necessity. When you don’t sleep or when your dream is incomplete, you become irritable, and can even be aggressive. If anyone is more than four days without sleep, starts having serious memory problems and delusions.
When do we sleep?
During sleep, the brain enters a phase of activity that can be classified as intense. Sleep consists of four to six cycles of an hour and a half to two hours. Each cycle is genetically determined, but can be modified by environmental factors. The dream depends on different brain structures and multiple chemicals called neurotransmitters, which cause neurons to communicate and coordinate with each other.
Why do we sleep?
During sleep, the body recovers from physical and mental exhaustion that we live daily. At cerebral level, hormones or substances appear that regulate the functioning of all organs of the body, stimulating the body's defense system and maintaining emotional state.
Disorders that affect sleep
Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder. Ten of 100 people suffer from it and is more common in children three to ten years old.
It occurs mostly when there is nervousness, stress, psychological problems, etc.
In adults, alcohol and drugs may be another factor. There are family records of sleepwalking in 80 of 100 people who have it. In women, especially teenagers, in the days before menstruation, sleepwalking may occur due to hormonal disorders.
What relation is between sleep and sleepwalking problem?
Studies show that people who abruptly sleepwalk present a stage of sleep more superficial, in which there is coordination between the motor or muscular system and the state of consciousness. Sleepwalking occurs most often in the first few hours of sleep at night, which is associated with a decrease in the intensity of breathing and heartbeat, as well as an important muscle relaxation.
Insomnia is the difficulty to fall asleep or to maintain it once you have been sleeping. It is the most frequent complaint of sleep disorders.
Most common causes of insomnia
Nervousness, tension, stress or anxiety, changes in sleep cycles (for example, people who work day and suddenly change their working hours at night), pressure, environmental changes.
Short periods of insomnia
They are commonly caused by anxiety disorders, either as a result of a severe problem or impressions, or as a result of something complex that is known to be faced, such as an exam, admission or dismissal from work, some positive emotion, etc. Insomnia may also be due to the loss of a family member, either by death or divorce, or serious psychiatric problems, depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Hypersomnia is excessive sleepiness or drowsiness during the day. People who tend to fall asleep anywhere, but not for the reasons we usually know, like boredom or fatigue.
It’s normal during sleep and therefore cannot be considered a sleep disorder. It’s regularly associated with sleep apnea, i.e. abrupt cessation of breathing, which is due to a change of normal respiration phase that occurs in deep sleep when the muscles that surround and hold open passageways relax and breathing may become partially block, which causes the body to respond with vigorous breathing. This, in turn, produces sounds that are associated with respiratory frequency.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2018. Sleep Disorders: In Depth
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2018. Sleep Disorders and Complementary Health Approaches
- Zhou, E. S., Gardiner, P., & Bertisch, S. M. (2017). Integrative Medicine for Insomnia. The Medical Clinics of North America, 101(5), 865–879.
- Burman, D. (2017). Sleep Disorders: Insomnia. FP Essentials, 460, 22–28.
About the author