The Sleep Process

What happens to the brain when its asleep?

What is the sleep process?

There is only one process that revitalizes the brain everyday. This process is the sleep process, and is extremely complex and fragile. Four stages make up the sleep process, where dreaming only takes up one of them. Dreaming allows the brain to make sense of what happened during the day without going insane. If a person sleeps at least eight hours every night, he/she will maximize his/her learning capability.

How does the sleep process work?

Stage one of the sleep process is when the brain starts to transition into sleep. In this stage, one can easily be awoken. Stage two is the first stage of true sleep and lasts 10-25 minutes. Body temperature decreases, one's heart rate slows and eye movement stops in this section of the sleep process. Stage three is when deep sleep occurs. One is difficult to awaken in this stage. If awoken, however, one will feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes. Blood flow is directed towards the muscles to restore energy. REM sleep starts 70-90 minutes after sleep starts. In this period of time, eyes move rapidly, breathing shallows, heart rate and blood pressure increases. The logic area of the brain shuts down, causing realistic but illogical dreams. One's arm and leg muscles are paralyzed, also. After REM sleep, a person goes backwards through the stages until he/she goes back to stage one. This process will occur multiple times a night until one wakes up, thus ending the sleep process (Smith, Robinson, and Segal 1).

Well-Rested Brain Versus Sleep Deprived Brain

Sleep is extremely important for the brain and body to remain functional. A person with a well-rested brain will remember items easier, feel happier, and overall just have more energy. However though, a person that is sleep deprived will run into many problems ranging from moodiness and reduced creativity to impaired motor skills and increased risk of heart disease. Sleeping in on the weekends actually hurts because that "way of life" displaces the biological clock which will make it harder to wake up on those stressful Monday mornings. REM sleep rejuvenates the brain when deep sleep invigorates the body (Smith, Robinson, Segal 1).

Sleeping Versus Learning Capability

Sleep also aids in learning. Believe it or not, sleeping is the key to learning. People who sleep after learning a new skill will have their skill fluency increased while they are sleeping. Dr. Stickgold devised an experiment where he teaches a group of patients a skill. He tests them again after they slept; their skills improve even though they didn't practice during the night. This fluency improves up to 20% ( Simpson 38-39).


Sleep allows one to learn, even though one isn't actually sitting in the classroom. Also, the brain performs better well-rested. Sometimes the difference between an F and an A is a good night's rest.

Works Cited Page

Smith, Melinda, Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal. "How Much Sleep do you Need?." A Trusted Nonprofit Organization. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 January 2014.

Simpson, Kathleen. The Human Brain. Washington D.C.: National Geographic , 2009. Print.