Sleep and Dreams

  • Theocharis Kyziridis
  • Ioannis Nimatoudis


Sleep is not a passive state but a reversible, active state, essential for mental and physical well-being, with behavioral and physiologic characteristics that differentiate it from wakefulness. It seems to be important for the survival of animals; thus it is universally present in the animal kingdom.

Humans spend approximately one third of their lives sleeping. Sleep patterns and sleep requirements change across life-span following an order that depends upon maturation of the central nervous system. It serves important functions including information processing, energy homeostasis, thermoregulation, and hormonal regulation, as well as functions concerning immunity, emotion, reward, and memory. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, has many negative consequences.

Sleep comprises two stages (NREM and REM), which take place approximately four to six times in one night. NREM is the stage through which initiation of sleep normally takes place. REM sleep predominates the last third of nocturnal sleep and is also known as paradoxical sleep. Anatomically, brainstem, diencephalon, and telencephalon contain regions that regulate sleep and wakefulness, while functionally this regulation is achieved by three systems: the homeostatic, the ultradian, and the circadian. Dreaming takes places in all stages of sleep, and dreams are quite stable during adulthood. Their neurobiological significance is not fully known.

Sleep disorders are categorized into two groups based on their etiology: those of primary etiology and those that have an underlying neurologic disease or mental health disorder.


Dreaming Neurobiology NREM sleep REM sleep Sleep 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theocharis Kyziridis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ioannis Nimatoudis
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.3rd Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, School of Health SciencesAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.University Hospital AHEPAThessalonikiGreece

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