Your Brain on Sleep: How Do You Naturally Wake Up?

Scientists have made some incredible discoveries recently about how the human body and brain rely on sleep to function properly; just as interesting, however, is how the brain processes the “waking” part of your “sleep-wake cycle.”

Without enough sleep at night, the body encounters several psychological and physical problems. It’s estimated that one in every four American workers have insomnia and this costs employers around $63 billion in lost productivity each year; this is because a brain without sleep can’t concentrate, it can’t remember things as well, it makes poor decisions, and emotions can cloud the ability to reason. Physically, poor sleep quality or sleep deprivation causes the body to be hungrier, it’s associated with hypertension and high blood pressure, and it’s linked to stable mental health. Just 18-13 minutes of extra sleep per night can actually influence a person’s overall wellbeing.

The brain allows us to go to sleep at night by producing melatonin, which is a chemical that is produced when natural sunlight disappears and which causes sleepiness. The brain is also governed by an interesting sleep and wake cycle which causes some people to feel most awake during the morning (“early birds”) or at night (“night owls”). Many people find that if they ignore their natural sleep cycles, their sleep quality decreases overall.

How exactly does the brain wake up from sleep, though? There are many smaller factors which can help a person wake up in the morning, such as natural sunlight, the smell of coffee, eating an apple, or taking a cool shower. The brain does naturally wake up on its own, however, and scientists recently discovered that a circuit of electrical activity “lights up” in the hypothalamus and thalamus in the brain when a person begins waking up. Inhibiting these circuits causes a person to become sleepy, but stimulating these circuits can cause rapid wakefulness.

While this doesn’t necessarily provide an immediate solution for insomnia or other sleep disorders (which affect an estimated 50-70 million Americans today), it can help people understand the real biology behind sleep quality, the different stages of sleep, and finding a sleep schedule that provides the most high-quality, undisturbed sleep.


Craftmatic® Adjustable Beds equipped with optional heat and massage, may provide temporary relief of low back pain, minor aches and pains due to muscular fatigue or overexertion, edema or swelling of the legs, poor local blood circulation of the legs, symptoms of hiatus hernia, symptoms of gastric reflux, nighttime heartburn. The optional heating accessory provides temporary relief from mild arthritis and joint pain, as well as muscle pain associated with stress and tension. Sleeping in an upright position may reduce or ease light and occasional snoring.

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