Healthy Sleep Helps Us Process Our Emotions

Dare to Know
6 min readMay 15, 2022
Health Sleep: A woman happily awakes in bed in front of a sunny window

Healthy sleep always makes us feel better the next day. Find out how a recent discovery may lead to more effective treatments for mood disorders, PTSD and other mental illnesses.

I used to have a job that involved a lot of travel. I’d be flying all over North America. Once I had vital, in-person tasks to complete in LA, Chicago and New York City all in one week.

The trouble I’d have with travel on that scale was crossing time zones. Jet lag interrupts our healthy sleep patterns and other circadian rhythms.

I always found that the stress of those business trips combined with the lack of sleep made me cranky. I’d be more irritable, nervous, dim-witted and generally out of sorts if I lost too much sleep during a road trip.

One-Quarter to One-Third of Our Lives Spent Asleep

We used to think that the the one-quarter to one-third of our lives spent asleep was just downtime. However, starting around the middle of the twentieth century, scientists have come to understand that our brains do a lot of important work while we’re in bed.

We pass through four stages of sleep every night. First is that half-asleep state with which we’re all familiar. Then there’s light sleep.

After that, there are two deep sleep stages. These are the delta stage and the rapid eye movement (REM) stage. There’s some debate as to which of these is the most important, with growing evidence that delta sleep matters most.

Sleep Stages Cycle Throughout the Night

The stages cycle throughout the night. With each cycle, the REM and non-REM stages get longer and longer. A good night’s sleep involves four or five complete cycles.

We dream mainly during the REM stage. The dreams we have during that stage can be emotionally intense as well as freaky. Neurologists have always viewed REM sleep as a mysterious phenomenon.

The journal Science published a paper last week that identified what our brains are doing during REM sleep. Researchers from the University of Bern and…

Dare to Know

Dare to Know, published by David Morton Rintoul, is for those who find meaning in stories about our Universe, Life, and Humanity.