Did you know there are mysterious things that happen to you every night? While you are asleep, all kinds of activity is going on. Actually, it’s a wonder you get any rest at all! When you’re asleep, your muscles and cells repair themselves. In fact, some cells in your brain are 5 to 10 times more active when you’re asleep than when you’re awake! Your immune system strengthens itself to help you fight off sickness. Also your brain organizes the things you learned during the day.
Then there are the dreams! If sleep is a mystery, dreams are even more mysterious. Most dreams happen in a stage of sleep called REM (Rapid Eye Movement), when the brain is really active. You might have REM sleep five or six times a night, so that means five or six dreams a night, and that would be more than 1800 dreams a year. How many of those can you remember?
Animals need sleep, too, but some have strange sleep patterns. Some animals sleep almost all day. Some hardly ever sleep. The brown bat sleeps 20 hours a day, but the giraffe only sleeps two hours. The squirrel needs 15 hours of sleep, but the horse only needs three hours per day. Most birds can sleep with one eye open and they can sleep with only half of their brain at a time.
Scientists don’t know a lot about the mystery of sleep, but what they do know is really cool, isn’t it?
(Taken from the May 2009 Banner article The Big Night Mystery by Sandy Swartzentruber.)