Sleeping is something we all do, yet it is something that many of us do not understand very well or even think about very often. For most of us it is something that comes with little thought, something we can just drift into at the end of the day.
There are a number of interesting physiological and psychological changes that occur when we sleep, changes more dramatic than many of us would imagine. Our brains go through periods of high and low activity, our temperature drops and our breathing changes.
In fact, our breathing patterns change with the cycles of sleep. As we drift off to sleep our breathing rate drops, matching the stages of non-REM sleep that we go through. When we are in REM sleep, which is the period when our brains are most active and we experience the most vivid dreams, our breathing rate will increase. Sometimes, depending on the intensity of our REM sleep, our breathing rate may increase dramatically, as our body ramps up its mental and physical activity.
For some, breathing and sleeping is a real problem. Sleep apnoea is a condition where the sleeper stops breathing for a period and can cause fatigue and a number of other problems.