Hi Sally! Our Body Needs Girl
“Hi, I’m Sally and I love to jump rope. I can jump 48 times without stopping! My new favorite things to do are to make cootie catchers and to play truth or dare. My friends Amanda and Samantha love to play these games with me and sometimes we can even get Henry and Thomas to play with us!
I just woke up, got ready for the day and had such a good breakfast. My Mom made me pancakes with maple syrup and sausages. I also had grapes and orange juice. My body really loves good food. I like pancakes a lot, but my favorite food is popcorn. My favorite color is orange. It’s so bright and cheerful and it reminds me of either an orange to eat, so yummy, or a beach ball, so fun.
I love going to the movies, ice skating and playing golf. I am going golfing with Gerald today and am so excited. It’s such a warm and beautiful day with the sun shining and the birds singing. I hoped that George could come golfing with us, but he has baseball practice.
I am supposed to tell you how I help you. I am in charge of body needs and that means I help you know when to get sleep, when to wake up, when your body is hungry or full and when you need to go to the bathroom. It’s all basic stuff, but really important. You want to be well-rested and nice and full, but not to full. Also, it’s nice not to have to worry about having bathroom accidents. I keep that from happening.
I also help you feel when you are warm or cold, when you are itchy (so annoying) and when you feel pain – ouch!
Well, I have to go. I need to get my golf things ready. Have a nice day!”
Body Needs in Laymen’s Terms
In this area of body needs, we are talking about sleep, hunger, thirst, breathlessness, body temperature, itch, pain and digestion elimination. We are basically talking about automatic triggers in our bodies that our brain responds to in order to indicate how our body is doing. Are we tired or hungry? Do we have to go to the bathroom? Are we too warm or too cold? Are we in pain?
The main responses involved in our body needs, except for sleep, is known as interoceptive awareness. This awareness relates to senses in our bodies our needs such as hunger, thirst, breathlessness, pain, temperature, itch, sensual touch and digestive elimination. Honestly, there is incomplete information in this area as it is being currently researched and reported and directly relates to so many other neurological processes. For this section, I am leaning toward the sensory processing aspects to examine how it affects our wellbeing.
When all is working properly, we can detect our body needs normally. We will not be overly agitated or need to pay attention to regulation. In other words, all systems are go.
If someone is overly sensitive to interoceptive input, their brains are telling them that they have intense ‘feelings’ of hunger, pain or itch. They may be super sensitive to their body temperature or the need to go to the bathroom. They have extremes in their perceptions of their body needs.
While someone else may be under-responsive to interoceptive input. In this case, they do not feel or sense their body needs. They may not feel their bodies telling them that they are hungry, cold or in pain. They may not feel the need to go to the bathroom until it is urgent.
Our ability to detect our body needs may affect our sense of safety. If we cannot perceive when we need to go to the bathroom, we may become anxious with worry over having an accident. In addition, our body needs directly affect our emotions as people become cranky when they are overtired or hungry or become irritable when they are itchy or in pain. As with each of the other areas, our emotions are directly linked with our body’s abilities to smoothly perform these functions.
Some Sciency Stuff
Amazingly, there are a small number of brain cells that promote sleep and wakefulness. There are areas of the brainstem and hypothalamus that send arousal signals to the cerebral cortex to wake us up. When the neurons are active, we are awake. Correspondingly, there are signals sent to transition us to sleep in another area of the hypothalamus. There are neutrons in this area called ventrolateral preoptic nucleus or VLOP that shut down the arousal centers to promote sleep. There is also something referred to as the Cicadian alerting signal that drives our body’s need for sleep.
The stomach hunger cycle starts with the hormone called ghrelin, that tells the hypothalamus that our blood sugar level and insulin levels are low. The vagus nerve is the communication highway between the stomach and the brain. Once the hypothalamus receives this message, it releases neuropeptide Y which stimulates our appetite. When we start to eat to fill our stomach, our fat tissues release the hormone leptin that tells our brain we are full so we can stop eating. It does so by turning down our neuropeptide Y production and turning up levels of a protein named, proopiomelancortin, which is an appetite suppressant. The hypothalamus monitors our levels of blood sugar and insulin to make sure they are in line.
Other Body Needs:
This area involves our detection and response to our body’s needs. Our autonomic nervous system is responsible for our basic body needs and involves two main divisions: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The autonomic nervous system receives information and responds by stimulating body processes, sympathetic division or inhibiting them, parasympathetic one.