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

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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  1. Hello, YouTubers. The World Science Festival is looking for enthusiastic translation ambassadors for its YouTube translation project. To get started, all you need is a Google account.

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  2. So we have to torture animals to figure out animals that feel safe sleep better?
    Humans make me sick.
    How much does this guy make a year to figure out what anyone with common sense already knows?
    What a joke.

  3. We don't exist from a technical stand point. The friend you talked to yesterday wasn't real. But , because you're soooo sure it was actually real in your physical reality , is the only reason it was actually real. Crazy rite? Any other creature is just as intelligent as a human being if not better. Birds, cats, etc.

  4. This is the best that my utube search requests can bring me!? I asked 10 different ways for "latest findings on child hood flying dreams" and this list of CRAP is all utube will bring me!? WHY EVEN TRY UTUBE ANYMORE!

  5. I can remember dreams from childhood and I'm almost 60. Not all dreams are wonderful, some are horrible and extremely frightening which is the cause of my neurological disorder (severe depression, anxiety, social isolation). When and if you dream of suicide constantly, then you will understand how I feel. I dream of death…and it's both wonderful and sad. My life as an empath is difficult in this reality where narcissm, aggression, greed and dishonesty are rewarded & praised… it's like being in helll which explains why I have so many terrible dreams.

  6. All the years of money for 'research' and all they can tell us is the body goes on autopilot until we enter REM just before waking. Nothing new to add to the "sleep research" going on since the 1920s, that sleep is a natural cycle sometimes aggravated by daily stresses of wakefulness.
    I wasted my time listening to these fraudulent parasites.

  7. To be in between awake and asleep is like having internet for your phone, you are back to the realm of unification less solid, awake personalised memories are stored in the physical body. You have to practice to transfer your consciousness into your less physical body-astral body.

  8. It was awesome until we got to the point of giving dreams and memories to robots. It seems we are infatuated with bringing AI to life and that’s a giant step we are going to have to deal with serious repercussions.

  9. When I dream, I seem to go to locations or cities that I am familiar with ONLY while I am there and seem to know what should or shouldn't be happening. About 75-90% of the time it is "night" and sometimes it looks as if it had been raining but isn't currently. Always in colour.
    If I see the blackness of a road, it is wet with diffuse reflection. Iv'e noticed if I reach out to grasp something, it hurls to my hand. I feel surprised and a chill comes over me because I know that isn't possible.
    Another observation is that it never seems like the current year but a decade or more earlier. This is something I don't realize until I'm awake though. Very rarely do I ever notice I'm actually moving to one location to another like walking or running, I'm just am aware I am there.
    Being in the audio industry it is puzzling that I'm only am vaguely aware of sound in my dreams, just visual input. I never remember olfactory stimuli in my dreams. I couple of time I seem to remember feeling a slight breeze.

  10. I can't hear nothing you cannot play with yourself jump off get off and damn all these people that you forgot and you built the school and I am not Audi you better know it and somebody better know the difference my mr. Trump is the president of the United States I need really really like yesterday that was not Rising you forgot now get on and tell somebody about that of saying nothing did you read anything you didn't read nothing I don't believe it was the ground of anybody put anything on top of anything when I was in a Biscuit that anybody was going to put to their mouth when the ear that is so when the air that is so will not cover you want to play with yourself Donald is the wonderful president of the United States of America you bet to know it others do not play games no not the word play you better know it would you like to tell your president about that wonderful as he is when others know not the word no one is going to put it together and forget

  11. Clean air is very important I understand you're not reading we are not the same somebody cares help whether you put your eyes on anything or no one help English assistant does not speak and spell strong and forget others you didn't know outside of the Indian family you didn't read about me happened to deal with the Indians what does this mean for other people and please do not tell me that you don't understand the sickness that is not no one built the hospital know where just like I didn't build the school know where how they're going to be giving the kids off time off of school for mental health purposes will this be a double jeopardy for the kids when they have to get a job police officers documenting suicide it is a sickness I'm not the police commissioner that says he does not want the police officers to have services when they are screaming they need help so they said they would like to have police officers have some services that they can be able to assist their self that they may be able to help others now I know you're not get lost with this English of not reading Mental Health that is not you put your eyes on anything I did not build the city I'm not going to start cuz my family likes to start with others and I don't

  12. I'm so happy that I have my own I don't care how many schools you built you can build several several several several several you're not reading several several several schools and forget you cannot go home playing with yourself and come outside English air clean not to be covered with anyone's lie they forgot their not reading right now Donald Trump is the president of the United States of America this is not a lingo you had to school nowhere you're not reading I am not read somebody better know something about something so no one tells no one they got lost but they forgot especially when Elon Musk has a free ticket for everyone especially though I respect NASA highly that is not range that it was no need for disrespect and forgetting the wonderful knowledge of others we are not the same I don't believe that family is here to be lost you can have as many dreams you can build as many schools you can do what you like how you like when you like and never forget you're not reading when others are not the same you can rain down schools going nowhere real fast and somebody will always understand the difference whether they hear or not oh you know I believe people have friends they never met like Steven Hawkins now my name is Lisa and I have so many philosophies I am not a poet to understand the English I'm not even going to start AAA you

  13. Happiness of yesterday you're not reading is not putting your eyes on another regarding behavior that is not watched when others have the right to understand the difference that is not you went to sleep nowhere how important is it to be able to help another person without putting your eyes on the behavior and understanding how to go about to help another person without you're not reading you put your eyes on the behavior to understand how to go about assisting the behavior know when they are rewinding behaviors of yesterday that was it today of others that do not speak and spell strong chill nobody had a device I don't have any books in my house cuz I have my own and I'm just not interested in others being lost with a forgot I'm really not now when you have to deal now when I have to do with the Indians that is not a card game I am not a dealer neither a gambler of anybody went to sleep and forgot about anybody's rewinding behavior of forgetting I just don't believe him somebody better know something especially when you have the president the wonderful Donald Trump oh the mighty Rich English I don't care what language when I never had a drum in the Congo for anyone that have forgot I don't know the word are you shame of me you put all these words together of not saying nothing and I'm absolutely proud of you now it's not a language and don't tell me I make absolutely no sense when I am not shame of you having so many words of not saying nothing and I said thank you I didn't build no school I don't believe anyone was going to build a school and not know the difference I just don't believe that then you have Elon Musk you're not reading he has free tickets for everybody I'm not even going to start with the English of not reading

  14. Oh damn I mean really really happiness of you not reading this is absolutely amazing I don't believe you're not hearing me and that's absolutely okay with all the words combined on this post I'm saying absolutely nothing I believe somebody better know something you're not reading I don't believe no one is going to say that 1000 years old day wake up 1 in the morning every night and they forgot especially when you have the wonderful president saying things like if you are a star you can disrespect women well I'm so happy to know it's not about combustion of anyone's lies I don't believe the air will be able to cover any one's lies of playing with their self when things are so serious with mental health I'm quite sure you're not reading being able to assist someone else besides yourself that is not joined to your brain did I don't believe it was your mouth I just don't believe it so now I'm quite sure you don't want to know my honesty about not saying one word I said thank you and I don't believe that you would have anyone to inform about you not having a word of me being absolutely impressed when you have your own so you never to get lost would another forgot nowhere of sickness that is not you had a dream nowhere now I'm not going to start

  15. Click bait big time. This is a material world view on "where we go when we're alseep and dreaming" & I'm very disappointed. I was hoping to get a spiritual insight on weather or not we're actually entering another dimension or a different "realm" in our spiritual body while we're asleep and dreaming. This was a let down.

  16. Ive always believed what happens when you sleep is why you are here and its up to you to fill your day in by doing what ever. There is a Doctor online that astral travel to do surgery while he sleeps. He travels to his sleeping patients and turns the lights back on in their brains.

  17. I was once writing a quite large and complex computer program at work. The morning before the launch, I woke up knowing about an error I made in a calculation formula. Yep, the error was confirmed when I got to work. That calculation mistake could've been very costly if it went unnoticed. It was hard to believe that my brain could do such a complex troubleshooting procedure while I was asleep.

  18. 39:08 This is why a REM sleep disorders can be so debilitating. One disorder they didn't discus is idiomatic hypersomnia. It is an REM sleep disorder that I have suffered from most of my adult life. Onset was around 26 – 27 years old thru to just recently when I turned 50 it has finally gone into remission and I sleep normally for the most part now. But that wasn't always the case. For most of my life I had to deal with this disorder 3 to 4 nights out of the week. After falling asleep I would go directly into REM sleep and stay in REM sleep the entire time or for very long periods.. That could be for anywhere between 10 to 30 hours and the whole time I would be having the most exhausting dreams that keep looping or suddenly jump from one thing to the next without any real continuity.

    The one thing that I noticed always woke me up when nothing else would is when I had to take a piss. I could have 3 alarm clocks going off and sleep right through them but the second that I felt like I was going to take a piss in my dream I would wake up. It may only be long enough to piss and right back to sleep again but it woke me up. After finally realizing this sometime in my 40's (i'm a bit slow at times)I developed a way of kind of controlling things by drinking 2 large glasses of water before going to sleep. It's kind of counter intuitive but this would make sure that I would never stay asleep for more then a couple of hours at a time and If I noticed that I had been in an REM sleep state I could force my self to stay awake for a while before falling back to sleep improving my chances of having a normal sleep cycle. It worked pretty well. Of course you are getting up 5 times a night but It is much better then the alternative and at least you make it to work on time.

    When you suffer from this affliction it destroys everything in your life and no one will give you an inch because they all have their own ideas and since you don't look sick so you must not be. To everyone around you they just think you should go to bed earlier or stop doing drugs or stop drinking or staying out late or what ever they think is going on but they try and compare their form of being tiered to what you are going through and they are not the same thing. Not even close.

    When you suffer from this you are not just tiered but until you have slept through a couple of normal sleep cycles your subconscious mind still thinks it is in charge and keeps trying to put you back to sleep by flooding your body with all of the chemicals that put you to sleep only on boost x 10. This is what is known as REM sleep intrusions and it is like being on strong barbiturates. One morning I was on my way back to my bed from the toilet and fell asleep while walking and fell face first right to the ground. When I woke up some 12 hours later I was still face down in the carpet with a black eye and a what was a bloody nose.

    The thing about this affliction is that no one knows why it happens or how to fix it. It can be diagnosed through a sleep clinic. There are also markers in your DNA that are only present with people that suffer from this and Narcolepsy that aren't present normally but no one knows why that is or what it has to do with anything. It just is. So the only thing that doctors can do is treat the symptoms by giving you methamphetamine.

    I'm just glad that this thing has finally run it's course. Unlike Narcolepsy, which is very similar in the symptoms displayed only with the addition of cataplexy, my condition is from onset till remission somewhere around 50 to 55 years of age. Narcolepsy on the other hand is from onset till grave. That sucks even more.

    I still have other anomalous sleep issues that I don't think are related such as fighting in my sleep. I broke my big toe a couple of years back when I kicked my desk at the side of my bed acting out a fight in my dreams. So yea I've caught my self doing this on a number of occasions but haven't hurt anyone but myself as of yet. Thankfully it doesn't happen all that often.

    Another thing is I can be watching TV and fall asleep with out even realizing it. We are talking totally asleep, snoring loudly and annoying everyone in the room that is trying to watch TV. It's strange because I can hear everything being said, on TV and in person and can even respond to questions. In my mind I am still awake. The only thing I can't hear is the sound of my own snoring. I hear everything else but not my own snoring. I always found that to be quite interesting.

  19. What if we're all connected to a kind of mass conscientiousness that we only have access to while we sleep?
    A realm for our energy while our physical body regenerates.
    Where time does not exist.
    That dream that one day gives you dejavu because you glimpsed the future. That feeling of having had been in that place before even though you know you were not in that place before, but you were in your dream 3 years ago… but you only vaguely remember that after the fact and then brush it off as nonsense.

    Food for thought

  20. I don't sleep. I can't sleep. I only sleep 4 hours at a time and then I have to get up. It hurts to much from a botched spinal surgery and after a while my body just can't take it. Is this the reason I never remember my dreams? Am I not getting enough REM sleep? It gets so bad to the point where I fall asleep doing the stupidest of things like listening to someone, watching TV and the scariest one is when I walk. Yes, that's right, I fall asleep for a quick nanosecond and snap outta it usually before I fall down. It's scary but the Dr's don't really seem to care. Anybody have any ideas on wth my body is doing to me?

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