Understand the Cycle of Sleep and Waking

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Understand the Cycle of Sleep and WakingIt is important for us to understand our usual cycle of sleep and waking. Different people have different levels sleeping and alertness during the day. Sleep/wake homeostasis as well as the circadian biological clock are responsible for the sleep and alert control during the day.

Sleep/wake Homeostasis Control

Staying too long without sleep leads to sleep accumulation in the body. This sleep must be compensated in order to maintain balance in the body. Sleep/wake homeostasis detects the deficiency of sleep and works to enhance its compensation.

Mostly, sleep compensation takes place during the night. Sleep/wake homeostasis guides the body in an attempt to relieve the sleep that has accumulated. Thus, we tend to remain asleep until the sleep accumulated is fully depleted.

Where an individual is free from accumulated sleep, the control remains inactive. However, sleep/wake homeostasis acts regularly in order to balance between the hours spent awake during the day and those that are spent sleeping at night. Thus, sleep/wake homeostasis is the control which effectively balances one’s sleep as well as wakefulness.

Circadian Biological Clock

Understand the Cycle of Sleep and WakingThis biological clock is essential in the body as it detects the periods when one should sleep or remain awake over the whole day. This detection exists in a rhythm basis where it rises and falls depending on the individual schedule.

It controls one’s sleep drive, thus, it determines when one should sleep or take a nap during the day. There are two types of individual sleep patterns. These include: morning person or evening person. Through these patterns, individuals tend to fall asleep during certain periods of the day.

Circadian biological clock may be ineffective in controlling the sleep drive if one had sufficient sleep. Where one is deprived of sleep, the clock becomes active and effective especially during the day. It is also designed to be highly active during certain hours of the day.

This clock is subjected to changes as one’s age changes too. For instance, it renders most teens alert at night and sleepy during the day. Commitments and involvement in many tasks may prevent the teens from sleeping before 11pm. However, between 3am to 7am and 2pm to 5pm, the intensity dips making the teens to feel sleepy. In the mornings, teens can extend sleep up to 10am in case they did not get sufficient sleep.

Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN)

These are cells in the hypothalamus part of brain which are responsible for controlling the circadian biological clock. SCN is controlled by the eye which is emitted through the eye. This light instructs the system on when to sleep or wake up. During the sleeping times, SCN messages brain part responsible for controlling secretion of hormones, temperature of the body, and other functions. This regulates sleeping or waking patterns.

SCN oversees the secretion of hormones such as melatonin and cortisol. It also regulates the brains control in temperature, light influence, and relaxation. This aids the body in choosing between sleeping and remaining awake.


Knowing the cycle of sleep and waking is essential in our lives. It makes one to be able to schedule time when they must sleep in order to avoid sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is associated with poor performance during the day, fatigue, tension, and tiresomeness. Parents should guide their children, especially teens, on how to ensure that they sleep well.

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