Sleep, Dreams, and Our Mental and Physical Processes Essay

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Sleep, Dreams, and Our Mental and Physical Processes

Scientists have been researching and conducting studies to discover the true meaning of sleep and dreams. Scientists have developed a few theories on whether we sleep and dream to build up our mental or physical energy.

According to the author of an article in Encarta Encyclopedia, Siegel defined sleep as the "natural state of rest characterized by reduced body movement and decreased awareness of surroundings" (Siegel). In an article on MSNBC Interactive, scientists believe in the physical aspects such that energy is lost throughout the day, so sleep is a time to build or restore that energy back up for the next day. The body also does some repair work. A hormone is released
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Rapid eye movement (REM) is a stage of sleep. It is high frequency, waves per second, low amplitude, height of waves, and lots of eye movement. This stage does not happen until four stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) occur. During an eight-hour sleep period, people go through five full cycles of the five stages. Each stage lasts about ninety minutes each (Lefton, 195).

In stage one, a person is in a light sleep and can be awakened easily. The brain waves have a low amplitude and a fast frequency. In stage two, the waves have a low amplitude and "non-rhythmic brain activity." In stage two is a slight bit deeper sleep that stage one. Stage three, delta waves have a slower frequency and a high amplitude. Stage four is a person’s deepest state of sleep (Lefton, 196).

The fifth stage is REM sleep. Breathing and heart rate increase, eyes begin to move rapidly, high frequency and low amplitude waves occur (Lefton, 196). REM sleep is affected by chemical stimulation of melatonin, chemical that helps one sleep, to pons in the brainstem (Siegel). REM is an important part of brain development; this is why infants spend most of their sleep in REM sleep ("Brain Basics").

The website titled Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep discussed a study conducted by a group of scientists found that REM is a part of learning mental skills. A group of people were taught a skill right before bed. Half of the people were able to sleep peacefully through the whole night and the