Although it is not necessary to close your eyes to sleep (some people sleep with their eyes open!) it does generally help to make one sleepy and prepared for sleep. Closing one’s eyes means that you are not receiving visual stimulus which were activate your brain and make you less sleepy. These visual stimulus would be lights, tv, computer screens, moving objects, etc. By closing your eye’s you are essentially quieting your mind so that you are more susceptible to sleeping. Closing one’s eyes also prevents eyes from drying out or being interfered with my foreign objects. This helps to not stress the mind (as getting something in your eye obviously would) and once again helps the brain to recognize that it’s time to quiet down and sleep.
You don’t necessarily feel sleepy by closing your eyes. Nerve-signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters control whether we are asleep or awake by acting on different groups of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain. There are neurons in the brainstem, that connects the brain with the spinal cord and produces serotonin and norepinephrine that keeps parts of the brain active while we are awake. These same neurons appear to “switch off” the signals that keep us awake. It has also been found that a chemical called adenosine builds up in our blood while we are awake and causes drowsiness. So if the body is fully awake and not ready for rest, closing your eyes cannot trick the body to sleep.
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