Most people look at sleep as the time when our bodies shut down and tune out of the world. But the truth is that sleep is way more than simply our bodies shutting down and resting for the following day.
While we’re sleeping at certain points during the process, our mind is very much conscious.
That being said, there is a time during the sleep cycle when our bodies do lose consciousness.
However, this is before the dream state begins and can be present for a wide range of different amounts of time.
Even still, consciousness by sleep is not a topic we can relegate to just a couple of sentences. So keep reading if you’re interested in how consciousness plays a part in your sleep cycle.
Are We Thinking When We Are Sleeping?
Consciousness is the act of being aware of yourself and your surroundings. Because of this definition, it might be very easy for us to assume when we’re sleeping, because we are not completely aware of everything, we have reached a level of unconsciousness.
The truth is that our brains are never completely shut down, even during the sleep cycle. When we sleep, once we reach the dreaming phase, our brain then begins to sort out the day’s events.
At this time, our brain begins to consolidate memories and repair the body from the rigors of the day. So and is doing but not in the everyday sense that you may be thinking of.
What is Happening With Our Brain When We’re Sleeping?
Even though our bodies are stationary during sleep, our brains are still processing and going through Things of different functions while we sleep. In fact, several areas of our brain are very active.
Some of what’s going on in the brain include:
- Portions of the brain release different neurotransmitters and hormones that flow out into the body to repair cells and tissues.
- The brain then begins to analyze memories from the day and consolidate them. Categorizing them to begin to prepare for the next day.
Does Your Mind Turn Off When You Sleep?
There has been a lot of change in understanding what happens when we sleep over the past several decades. It used to be that scientists believed that we lose consciousness when we sleep because the cerebral cortex tends to shut off.
But with modern technology, these scientists now know that there is still a lot of activity that goes on, just at a lower frequency when we sleep. So physically, our minds do not shut off.
But on a more psychological aspect, our minds do shut down to a certain level, allowing our brain access to process the events of the day.
Can You Be Aware While Sleeping?
So if you are conscious, can you be aware while you’re sleeping? It depends on what you are attempting to do.
There is something called conscious sleeping that you can practice so that you can be aware of yourself but not the body. It is a yogic practice that takes time to perfect.
But on a purely basic level, if you’re not someone who is trying to practice this yogic technique, the answer is you may find yourself occasionally aware while you’re sleeping.
But the body lowers itself into a state of consciousness where you are resting, which means you will lose some awareness.
Is Consciousness During Sleep the Same as Dreaming?
So if when you’re dreaming, it’s your body processing the day’s events and feelings and thoughts, is that the same as being conscious? In some aspects, the answer is yes. As you’re aware of what’s happening during the day, or at least your brain is.
But consciousness and sleep are two very different things and now she’s not showing up. Consciousness, as we’ve said, means that you are aware not only of yourself but your body and your surroundings.
In a dreaming state, while you’re sleeping, you may be aware of yourself and sometimes your surroundings, but on the whole, your body and its surroundings tend to be the last thing you’re thinking of.
Final Thoughts on Are We Conscious When We Sleep
So the answer to whether we are conscious while we’re sleeping is a very difficult one to answer. There are moments where you will be conscious and situations that may leave you conscious.
However, on the whole, when you’re sleeping, your consciousness is lowered to a very minimal level so that your brain has time to heal and repair itself.