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The idea of sleep has boggled the minds of humans for as long as humans were able to begin to comprehend what exactly sleep is There are numerous working definitions for sleep that many different people feel best represents the nebulous topic The Miller- Keane Medical Dictionary defines sleep as a period of rest for the body and mind during which volition and consciousness are in partial or complete abeyance and the bodily functions partially suspended sleep The dictionary later adds more to the original definition by comparing sleep to a behavioral state that is still sensitive to eternal stimuli sleep A vital part to understanding the concept of sleep is understanding exactly what occurs during it REM sleep also known as Rapid Eye Movement sleep occurs in humans during certain phases of sleep brain basics REM sleep begins with signals sent from the pons that then travel to the thalamus which from there sends the signals to the cerebral cortex the part of the brain responsible for higher level learning and thinking brain basics The pons is also responsible for sending out signals to shut down neurons in the spinal cord in order to prevent one from acting out the dreams physically brain basics The pons would therefore play a crucial role in sleep and in the even more interesting study of topic dreams Dreams are merely a mind pulling up situations that the sleeping person had experienced and replaying them within the sleep- induced person and are no indication of feelings and hidden emotions Another important aspect of sleeping is the philosophy of circadian rhythms Circadian rhythms are responsible for what time a person usually goes to bed and when that person usually wakes up in the morning Circadian rhythms are changes in a bodies physical and mental characteristics during different times of the day brain basics Although most people do not know of circadian rhythms they have an understanding of the cause
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