The Characteristics of Sleep

It is entirely common for dreams to not be remembered. In fact, it’s because we are so rarely conscious of our dreams that we find it notable when we do remember a dream we had during the night. Modern science continues to evolve the exact definition of just what sleep is. Until fairly recently, about sixty years ago, sleep was thought to simply be a period where the brain becomes inactive. We now know that the brain actually becomes highly active when we’re sleeping, particularly during the important Rapid Eye Movement phase of sleep.

The body undergoes some predictable physiological changes during sleep. Basically, everything slows down; from blood pressure and heart rate to our temperature and blood gasses. These have long been known, because they were more easily observable. But the brain’s activity does not slow when we fall asleep. After ninety minutes of unconsciousness, we enter Rapid Eye Movement, and that’s when things get interesting. During REM, neurons begin firing much more quickly and more often. While it’s not well understood, doctors do believe dreams result from this high powered brain activity.

There are a variety of theories about just what dreams are doing, or how the brain generates them, but they’re only speculation. Research is ongoing, but one thing is certain; without dreams, we don’t function normally. Sleep is necessary.

Key Points:

  • 1Sleep is a period of reduced psychological, physical, and physiological activity.
  • 2The brain does not become inactive during sleep, in fact, there is an increase in neurological activity during REM sleep.
  • 3Though scientists are still unsure of why we sleep, physiological changes that occur during sleep may provide clues to eventually answer that question.


Every night, nearly every person undergoes a remarkable change: we leave waking consciousness and for hours traverse a landscape of dreams and deep sleep.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators.The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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