What Happens When We Fall Asleep?

What Happens When We Fall Asleep?


Sleep is, to be honest, a pretty strange experience. One second we’re conscious, somewhat active, able to think. The next moment we’re not --  our mind has fallen into unconsciousness and we are now unable to move. It’s pretty strange. 

From childhood, we’re taught that sleep is a way of resting after a busy day, and this is true to an extent. However, we’re rarely taught what happens when we fall asleep. The truth is that sleep impacts a wide variety of systems throughout the body, including our brains. 

In this short article, we’ll be going over the effects of sleep on our bodies. Our aim will be to give you an idea of just how important a good sleep pattern is for your overall health. 

The Brain

By far, sleep’s biggest effect is on the brain. Normally, we think of sleep as the time when the brain relaxes, but this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, the brain is arguably even more active during the active part of the sleep cycle than it is when we’re awake. 

Light Sleep 

During the first stage of sleep, the so-called Light Sleep stage, your brain is still processing information, much as it does when you’re awake. In this stage, the brain moves memories from the short term memory to the long term memory and processes and processes the most information. As such, it’s  best to think of the Light Sleep period as the after hours at a shop -- the time where the staff sort out displays and sort out new stock, ready for the next day. 

During the next stage, the intermediate stage of sleep, your brain starts to slow down its processing and starts to prepare for the next stage of sleep. 

Deep Slow Wave Sleep Stage

The next stage of sleep is defined as Deep Slow Wave Sleep. During this stage of sleep, you get the most rest as your brain waves start to slow down. However, with this comes the caveat that being woken up from this stage of sleep means that you’re far more likely to feel groggy and suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation. This is because Deep Slow Wave Sleep is the stage wherein you’re most tired. 

Rapid Eye Movement Stage 

The final stage of the sleep cycle is called the REM or Rapid Eye Movement stage. This is the stage where we dream. This is the stage where your memories are truly fixed in your long term memory and given context; where they are modified and where your brain cogitates your new memories. 

The Rest of the Body

But your brain isn’t the only organ that’s affected by sleep. The truth is that the rest of your body is effected, too, 

Your Body is flooded by Hormones 

To start, sleep releases multiple hormones into your bloodstream. The first is melatonin.

Your brain starts to manufacture this hormone just after it starts to get dark. When you are ready to fall asleep, your brain releases it into your bloodstream -- causing sleep. Melatonin regulates your sleep pattern, putting you to sleep at night and waking you up in the morning. 

Another hormone released during sleep is Cortisol, which is part of the body’s stress management system. This hormone increases the amount of sugars in your bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose, and ultimately helps to repair tissues. 

Another pair of hormones released during sleep are Leptin and Ghrelin. These two hormones regulate your appetite -- Leptin suppressing it and Ghrelin increasing it -- and are to blame for why you normally wake up feeling hungry. 

Without Leptin, your body would have no way of monitoring its own fat levels. As a result, you would experience a near constant hunger as your body would have no way of  knowing how much it actually weighs. Likewise, without Ghrelin you would never experience  hunger regardless of how long it had been since you actually ate. 

The next hormone released during sleep is Somatropin -- the human  growth hormone.  This hormone helps to regulate body shape in adults and help young people to grow. A deficiency in this hormone causes numerous issues, including:  

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased sexual function
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of strength
  • Reduced bone density

As well as a host of others. 


During sleep, your muscles relax as Cortisol floods your body. This allows your body to heal, to repair damaged or bruised muscles. It also allows for general maintenance of your muscle-skeletal system. Studies have shown increased accuracy, faster reaction times and speeds, and improved  performance are common results of sleep. 

Contact Dial A Mattress

The best way of ensuring that you have a great night's sleep is to ensure that your mattress and bed are as good quality as possible. At Dial a Mattress, we manufacture first-class beds and mattresses, designed to make sleeping as easy as possible. For more information on our products, get in touch with us today. 

This answer was written by:

Richard Jones
Richard Jones has been working at Dial a mattress for 17 years. He is also The Company Director. He enjoys his holidays, swimming, model making, and DIY. To contact ~Rishard, please get in touch via the main contact lines.
Contact Us