When we sleep, our body prepares itself for some changes. Most of the hormones and chemicals are produced in our body while we are asleep. Our body enters the phase of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) which is also known as the paradoxical sleep or desynchronised sleep. The REM stage is similar to the waking stage and our brain waves stimulate in different ways. Our body undergoes changes in respiration, thermoregulation, circulation etc.
Here is a list of things that can happen to us when we are asleep:
1. Sleep paralysis: When we enter the phase of REM, our muscles get paralyzed. This generally happens due to REM atonia and happpens due to the hindrance of motor neurons. If one experiences sleep paralysis on a daily basis, they must check for narcolepsy as sleep paralysis and REM atonia cause a sleep behaviour disorder.
2. Body temperature: While sleeping, our body doesn’t regulate our body temperature properly. Our body undergoes homeostasis and our heart rate, cardiac pressure and breathing rate becomes irregular.
3. Hypnic Jerk: Also known as the sleep twitch, hypnic jerk is a phenomena which we undergo once we begin to fall asleep. As we fall asleep, we experience a falling sensation which leaves one shocked. The jerk leads to the feeling of ‘falling into the void’ and it increases our heartbeat, breath, sweat etc. As believed, hypnic jerk is associated with people who have unbalanced sleeping schedules
4. Exploding head syndrome: It is a condition of parasomnia which a person undergoes while falling asleep. One feels fear while falling asleep which is followed by a headache, loud and imaginary noises and the feeling that something exploded. In many cases, a person with the syndrome sees unexplainable flashes of light
5. Growth hormones produced while sleep: Most of the Human Growth Hormones (HGH) are produced while sleeping. The hormones maintain our metabolism and the body structure and keep our sugar levels and blood levels in order.
6. Sleep walking: Sleep walking is a disorder which is listed under parasomnia. When sleep walking one performs normal activities which are done while waking up. These activities include walking around, cleaning, cooking, driving etc. Sleepwalking is observed in children due to delay in maturation whereas in adults it is one of the signs psychological disorders like schizophrenia, anxiety neuroses etc.
7. Psychological effects: Deep-REM sleep shapes our subconsious mind which plays a major role as to how we react to things and think. REM sleep makes our mind more receptive to things and makes us creative and helps us perform better in many tasks. Moreover, REM sleep makes our memory better as it alters our memory and preserves the procedural, spatial and emotional memory.
8. Sleep talking: Also known as somniloquy, it is referred to speaking loudly in one’s sleep. This is generally stimulated due to stress, depression, illness or other sleep disorders.
9. Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is one of the major sleeping disorders when a person stops breathing while sleeping. The breath is interrupted during the sleep and the brain and the body do not get enough oxygen while sleeping.
10. Night terror: Also known as sleep terro or pavor nocturnus, night terror is a disorder where a person feels terror and scared while sleeping. It is a nocturnal attack which is followed by panic, faster heart rate, sweat and respiration. Due to the feeling of horror, one often screams, thrashes their limbs and lashes out.