Neuroanatomy of Sleep

Neuroanatomy of SleepNeuroanatomy of Sleep

We spend a third of our entire lives asleep. For us and most other animals to spend so much time in such a vulnerable state, it must serve some important evolutionary purpose. Yet, surprisingly, scientists still do not fully understand what sleep is and why we do it. Sleep remains an enigmatic but crucial component of our daily lives. 

This article will give a brief overview of what we do know about sleep and the brain regions controlling it.

Key takeaways

  • Sleep Stages: Sleep alternates between REM (dreaming, active brain waves) and non-REM (deep, restorative) stages throughout the night.
  • Neurotransmitters: Neurons communicate through neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, orexins, and serotonin, which are important in regulating wakefulness and sleep. 
  • Circadian Rhythms: Considered the body’s pacemaker, Circadian Rhythms help regulate the sleep-wake cycle, which is influenced by light and melatonin.
  • Sleep Well: Adoptogan supplements are known to support better night sleep. Read more about Tahiro’s Sleep Well formula.

What Is Sleep?

Sleep can be broken into two major categories: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep, which is why the eyes are often moving beneath the eyelids. Your brain waves during REM sleep appear similar to when you are awake. 

Non-REM sleep is the deeper form of sleep when it is the most difficult to be awakened, characterized by long and slow brain waves. Throughout the night, you cycle between REM and non-REM sleep several times, which each cycle lasting between 1.5 and 2 hours. 

Most people will undergo between 4 and 6 sleep cycles per night before beginning to approach wakefulness. Your brain uses distinct mechanisms to regulate the states of wakefulness, REM sleep, and non-REM sleep. Let’s discuss each of them to understand how they work.


Non-rem sleep

Rem sleep

Circadian rhythms

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