The nuts and bolts behind biology and chemistry of sleep that won’t require a PhD to understand.
Click a body part to learn more about how sleep effects it
Cerebral spinal fluid is pumped more quickly throughout the brain while you sleep. It acts like a dishwasher, whisking away waste products that brain cells make. So you wake up with, quite literally, a clean slate.
One body part that gets a break during sleep is your heart. Your ticker works hard during the day, so at night during non-REM sleep it takes some pressure off itself by reducing heart rate, as well as blood pressure.
When you’re awake, your breathing patterns vary greatly. You’ll breathe faster when excited and harder while exercising, for example. But during sleep, your breathing slows down and becomes very regular.
Certain foods contain an amino acid called tryptophan that causes sleepiness. Carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain, which is why carbohydrate-heavy meals can make you drowsy.
While you sleep, your body releases growth hormones that work to rebuild muscles and joints. The more sleep you get, the better equipped your body will be to repair itself.
Curious about how sleep really works? We’ve broken down the science behind sleep into digestible articles that anyone can understand. This includes everything from exercise to sleep disorders to snoring. Below is a full list of all of the sleep science articles on Sleep.org.