The Mind After Midnight: Where Do You Go When You Go to Sleep?

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We spend a third of our lives asleep. Every organism on Earth—from rats to dolphins to fruit flies to microorganisms—relies on sleep for its survival, yet science is still wrestling with a fundamental question: Why does sleep exist? During Shakespeare and Cervantes’ time, sleep was likened to death, with body and mind falling into a deep stillness before resurrecting each new day. In reality, sleep is a flurry of action. Trillions of neurons light up. The endocrine system kicks into overdrive. The bloodstream is flooded with a potent cocktail of critically vital hormones. Such vibrant activity begs the question: Where do we go when we go to sleep? Based on new sleep research, there are tantalizing signposts. We delved into the one-eyed, half-brained sleep of some animals; eavesdropped on dreams to understand their cognitive significance; and investigated extreme and bizarre sleeping behaviors like “sleep sex” and “sleep violence.”

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Original Program Date: June 3, 2011
MODERATOR: Carl Zimmer
PARTICIPANTS: Carlos H. Schenck, Matthew Wilson, Niels Rattenborg

Video Introduction. 00:13

Carl Zimmer’s Introduction. 03:13

Participant Introductions. 04:03

Human sleep vs Animal sleep. 05:40

Sharing sleep traits with animals. 10:03

Ducks sleep with one eye open… but why? 13:22

What is the reason everything needs sleep? 18:30

Are there limits to our dreams? 19:55

Where do we currently stand with dream research? 22:06

The brain never turns off. 26:16

Is daydreaming the same as normal dreaming? 32:18

REM sleep dreams are crazy. 38:57

Dreaming through memory models. 44:41

REM sleep behavior disorder. 46:08

Mel and Norma Gabler and his dream killing 51:58

Sleep fighting footage. 54:20

Sleep state dependent sleep activation. 01:00:28

Extreme animal sleep. 01:02:35

The Curious Case of Kenneth Parks 01:12:10

What is the next step for sleep science? 01:20:38

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