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What Is the Function of Homeostasis?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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The main function of homeostasis in humans and animals is to keep the body’s skin and internal organs operating in a balanced and normal manner. With the primary purpose of keeping an animal or a person comfortable, all of the body’s organs, including the skin, must work together to maintain an internal equilibrium. Sometimes referred to as an internal thermostat, homeostasis is used the regulation or balance of temperature and the body’s pH through a healthy nervous system.

While the nervous system is the final mechanism that controls the internal environment in the function of homeostasis, other systems, such as the muscular and circulatory systems, as well as the skin, give the nervous system the feedback it needs to control homeostasis. For example, the skin participates in the function of homeostasis by providing a barrier of protection designed to keep viruses and other harmful microbes out of the body, while also producing sweat to cool the body when it is in danger of overheating. The skin also works to raise the body’s temperature when it is too cold through the process commonly referred to as shivering.

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Despite external elements, homeostasis is used to regulate all of the body’s internal responses. In extreme environments, such as extreme heat or cold, the function of homeostasis is seen as a protective system to help the body respond in such a way as to restore and promote as much comfort as possible. This same is true when the skin is cut or opened by an external force or object. The function of homeostasis is to increase the blood’s flow in the wounded area, which also results in swelling.

There are some researchers who contend that sleep is also a function of homeostasis and, without it, the body’s internal equilibrium is disturbed. In relating sleep to homeostasis, studies have been conducted to determine its relationship to insomnia and how the body reacts when it is deprived of sleep for a prolonged period. Studies have proven that the more sleep a human or animal misses or is deprived of, the more sleep is needed to recover. In particular, researchers have tried to determine whether humans and animals can eventually adjust to severely altered sleep patterns that sharply reduce the amount of sleep actually engaged in. While it is possible to alter sleep in this way, studies have concluded that, eventually, long periods of deep sleep are needed to help homeostasis recover from lost amounts.

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bluedolphin
Post 3

I found the last part of the article very interesting. I'm a college student and don't get much sleep at all during exam time. When exams are over and I go home, I sleep a lot for the first week, sometimes 12 hours a day! I guess my body is making up for lost sleep!

donasmrs
Post 2

@fify-- That's a great question. I think I can answer this because I have diabetes and I read all about this topic.

Homeostasis keeps blood sugar levels in the normal range. It does this by having the pancrease release insulin or glucagon, two hormones that the pancrease produces.

So for example, if blood sugar rises too much, homeostasis goes off balance and tells the pancrease to release insulin. Insulin binds and removes sugar molecules from the blood and everything goes back to normal.

If blood sugar is too low, then the pancrease is told to release glucagon which increases blood sugar.

If the pancreas stops producing these hormones or if there is something wrong with the molecules, the result can be diabetes or hypoglycemia.

fify
Post 1

What's the relationship between homeostasis and blood sugar?

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