Introduction to Sleep and Dreams

What you’ll learn to do: describe what happens to the brain and body during sleep

A college students falls asleep on her books while studying.

We devote a very large portion of time to sleep, and our brains have complex systems that control various aspects of sleep. Several hormones important for physical growth and maturation are secreted during sleep. While the reason we sleep remains something of a mystery, there is some evidence to suggest that sleep is very important to learning and memory.

You may not feel particularly busy while you sleep, but you’ll learn in this section that your brain and body are quite active. You pass through four different stages of sleep. In this section, you’ll learn more about these sleep stages, dreaming, and sleep disorders.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe areas of the brain and hormone secretions involved in sleep
  • Describe several theories (adaptive and cognitive) aimed at explaining the function of sleep
  • Differentiate between REM and non-REM sleep
  • Describe the stages of sleep
  • Describe and differentiate between theories on why we dream
  • Describe the symptoms and treatments for insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy
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