How We Sleep

By: Brandon S.

What really goes on

Sleeping may seem like an involuntary act, or something you do. Lay down, close your eyes, and count sheep until you doze off. But in reality there is much more to it than just tricks your parents taught you were little to make your brain shut off and fall asleep. Actually, the brain is constantly active, but in different ways when you are asleep. It releases chemicals known as hormones throughout the whole process and helps you recover while asleep. In fact, while asleep you brain amplifies and delivers different brain waves and pulses. Weird, right? so there is more to the brain and your sleep that just nice dreams of rainbows and unicorns.

Hormones and what they do

Have you ever wondered why when you wake up in the morning you are always hungry? or why when its dark outside, you become more tires? Or why its hard to sleep with a bright light on? Well it all has to do with hormones and your brain. The brain and the body release chemicals, hormones, known as cortisol and melatonin that perform these simple executive functions. Melatonin is released when darkness is around in order to cause the body to naturally react and become tired and sleep. This hormone is released by the pineal gland, a small pea sized mass in the brain, and is essential to sleeping. It works by interconnecting with the eyes and the retina to identify darkness, relay the signal to the pineal gland, to then excrete melatonin into the body to then become sleepy. Similarly, upon waking up, cortisol reminds the body that it is time to eat due to the lack of nutrition during the night. Cortisol is secreted by the Adrenal gland, your body has two, and are located just in front of the kidneys. These hormones are what cause you to sleep and have basic human and bodily functions and reactions.