By Carlos Tecson
Sleep is one of the important processes our body needs to attain maximum functionality. Sleep is a natural recurring state of mind where the body inhibits sensory activity, voluntary movements, and consciousness. It may seem that we are inactive during sleeping, but actually, it’s the time where the mind is fully active. You may have heard of the term “body clock” before, our body has an internal “body clock” that tells your body to wake up or tells your body that you are ready to sleep.
The body clock has a 24-hour repeating rhythm which interaction of two processes control this rhythm. The first process is the drive to sleep that builds up every hour you’re awake and the second is process is involves your internal body clock which is cued by the environment.
The first process involves a compound called adenosine, this compound is said to be a factor linked in building up the drive for sleep. While the body is awake, the level of adenosine increases, and an increase of this compound signals a shift towards sleep. While sleeping, the body breaks down adenosine.
The second process involves environmental cues like light, darkness and such. These cues help in determining to feel awake or feel drowsy. There is a special part of the brain that can tell if it’s day time, through the help of light signals received by the eyes. When it gets dark, the body releases a hormone called melatonin; this hormone signals the body that it’s time for sleep, thus making you drowsy. Amount of melatonin increases as the evening wears on, that is why darkness is important in preparing the body to sleep. As the sun rises, there is another compound that the body releases signaling it’s time to wake up, this compound is called cortisol.
The rhythm of the body varies with age. Infants may take a lot of time to sleep. Young children tend to sleep early in the evening and may take naps during lunchtimes. Teens usually sleep later in the evening, because the melatonin is released and peaks later in the 24-hour cycle; making teens prefer later bedtimes.
Sleep is very important to our body, it helps in the growth and development of our body. So, now that you know how the chemistry of sleep works, be sure to get a lot of sleep, it really helps.