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*Dreams and Sleep*

Updated on December 30, 2015


Although we all have different opinions as to what sleep really is, scientists have come up with different theories and explanations as to what it is and what the brain does during that time. Scientists have said that it's a characteristic patterns of brain waves and other physiological functions. Features in this section describe and explain the significance of typical sleep patterns, as well as a variety of factors that disrupt these patterns. Although a sleeping person may appear inactive, some functions of the brain and body are actually more active during sleep than when we're awake and that is why we dream and certain functions of brain are active in order to keep us alert.


There are certain functions that happen during the wake and sleep cycle our temperature, blood pressure, and levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and glucose in the blood remain quite constant during the wake cycle. However during sleep, physiological demands are reduced and temperature and blood pressure drop. This is called thermoregulation, the temperature of our body is controlled by mechanisms such as shivering, sweating, and changing blood flow to the skin, so that body temperature fluctuates minimally around a set level during our state of being awake.

Sleep Apnea - Snoring isn't something that most of us worry about. But if it's loud snoring especially when it's accompanied by daytime fatigue may be a sign of sleep apnea, a common and yet serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep. The muscles of the upper airway relax when you fall asleep. If you sleep on your back, gravity can cause the tongue to fall back. This narrows the airway, which reduces the amount of air that can reach your lungs. The lack of oxygen your body receives can have negative long-term consequences for your health. This includes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Pre-diabetes and diabetes
  • Depression

Sleep Deprived

Sleep deprivation consists either in a complete lack of sleep during a certain period of time or a shorter thanoptimal sleep time. The most common causes of sleep deprivation are those related to contemporary lifestyle and work-related factors; thus the condition affects a considerable number of people. Generally, the clinical symptoms of sleep deprivation include longer reaction time, distractedness, disturbances in attention and concentration, forgetting known facts, difficulty in memorizing new information. A higher level of stress is observed, tiredness, drowsiness and irritability increases, work effectiveness decreases and motivation usually falls down. Reasoning slows down not only during the night of sleep deprivation but also on the following day time. Most people declare that they need approximately 8 hours of sleep.

Although it’s common to think of sleep as a time of “shutting down,” sleep is actually an active physiological process. While metabolism generally slows down during sleep, all major organs and regulatory systems continue to function.

The NREM phase consists of four stages (NREM = Non-Rapid Eye Movement)

Stage 1. The first stage is a time of drowsiness or transition from being awake to falling asleep. Brain waves and muscle activity begin to slow down during this stage.

Stage 2 - is a period of light sleep during which eye movements stop. Brain waves become slower, with occasional bursts of rapid waves called sleep spindles, coupled with spontaneous periods of muscle tone mixed with periods of muscle relaxation.

The 3rd and 4th stage - They are the last stages in which are characterized by the presence of slow brain waves called "delta waves" interspersed with smaller, faster waves. Blood pressure falls, breathing slows, and body temperature drops even lower, with the body becoming immobile.

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is the terrifying feeling of being held down after just waking up or going to sleep. You can’t move or scream, and sometimes this paralysis is accompanied with the certainty that someone or something is in the room. Although you are trying to scream and call for help, there's no sound.

There are certain causes of Sleep Paralysis. At a time like during rapid eye movement (REM) the brain has very vivid dreams that you might even end up remembering, while the muscles of the body are essentially turned off. While sleeping, the muscles are unable to move so that the person won't be able to act out dreams with their body. Sleep paralysis happens when a person wakes up before REM is finished. The person will be conscious, but the body's ability to move hasn't been turned back on yet. Certain things like sleep deprivation, sleep apnea, or certain kinds of medications can put you in sleep paralysis. Also, sleep paralysis is commonly seen in patients with narcolepsy.

The Hallucinatory Sleep Paralysis is different from Common Sleep Paralysis because it can last up to 8 minutes long. Sometimes it runs in families depending on how bad it is and the severity. It is not harmful, although most people report feeling very terrified and uncomfortable because they do not know what is happening, and within minutes they slowly or rapidly are able to move again, the event is often ended by a sound or a touch on the body. People who tend to sleep on their backs can also experience sleep paralysis.

Once considered very rare, about half of all people are now believed to experience sleep paralysis sometime during their life. These are some of the symptoms of sleep paralysis:

1. Presence of brief episodes of partial or complete skeletal muscle paralysis

2. Happens before falling asleep or just after waking up

3. Episodes can be associated with hypnogogic hallucinations or dream-like use of the brain.

4. A complaint of inability to move the body (except for eye blinking and breathing) at sleep onset or upon awakening

5. Inability to move or speak for 30 seconds - 3 minutes

6. Screams out for help but is not heard by anyone (the sleep paralyzed person believes they are really screaming out loud but to anyone near them they are only making odd little noises)

Foods to promote Sleep

Foods for a better sleep...

Cherries - All varieties of cherries are naturally high in melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Eat a cup of whole cherries as a late-night snack if you'd rather not drink juice.

Fish - Fish are rich in tryptophan, a natural sedative, with shrimp, cod, tuna, and halibut having the highest levels, even more than turkey. This is also a good source of Omega- 3 which is good for brain health and spine health.

Chamomile - Another herb that works as well as lemon balm, chamomile has been used as an herbal remedy for insomnia for thousands of years. This amazing herb reduced mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder much better.

Bananas - A great power food filled with potassium and magnesium, two minerals that promote muscle relaxation. In fact, the one thing is that magnesium deficiencies are related to restless leg syndrome and nighttime muscle cramps, two conditions that can certainly interfere with your sleep.

Milk - They are rich in melatonin-boosting calcium, and a number of studies are finding that actually calcium deficiencies are linked to poor sleep quality.

Sleep Deprived

Having a healthy diet, living will low stress and keeping a calm mind will reduce the stress that you get during your sleep. Depression and stress can be a huge contribution to your sleep deprivation and sleep apnea...of course with the contribution of the fact that you eat unhealthy and more fatty foods.

If you have any concerns and questions visit your M.D. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor to see if you have to take medication.


Sleep and Dreams

5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of Sleep and Dreams

© 2015 Mahsa S


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    • mahsa setareh profile imageAUTHOR

      Mahsa S 

      3 years ago

      Sleep paralysis is a scary thing, and knowing how your body and mind work during that time is even more great

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      To me it's very interesting to know how Sleep paralysis really works and what causes us to have that, thanks for the great hub. It was great knowing what my body does during sleep.

    • mahsa setareh profile imageAUTHOR

      Mahsa S 

      3 years ago

      Maya, thank you very much for sharing important information with us.I love it.

    • mahsa setareh profile imageAUTHOR

      Mahsa S 

      3 years ago

      Hello Megan, there are many things that you can do in order to have a good night sleep.. Some of the ways include reading before bed time, changing your diet, making a routine sleep time and even staying active during the day like hitting the gym. It can be tempting to sleep in on weekends, but even a couple hour difference in wake time disrupts your sleep clock during the week. All nighttime light can interfere with sleep and your body’s rhythms, but the blue light emitted by electronics is especially disruptive. This includes the screen on your phone, tablet, computer, or TV.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thanks a lot for useful information, yes I drink camomile tea for acid reflux and helps me to get better sleep as well. But I don't know what to to do with stress even though I'm not in a stressful situation, can you please give me some suggestion what to do, thanx.

    • mahsa setareh profile imageAUTHOR

      Mahsa S 

      3 years ago

      You're welcome.. Yes sleep paralysis can be a terrible thing to experience. But by controlling it you can sleep well and relax

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you for sharing this valuable information. I especially appreciate your section explaining sleep paralysis.

    • mahsa setareh profile imageAUTHOR

      Mahsa S 

      3 years ago

      Thank you, I enjoyed writing this hub. Its good to know about our sleep patterns and the foods that help

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Wow thanks for the great explanations and details. I enjoyed reading this hub


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