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


31 thoughts on “The Mind After Midnight: Where Do You Go When You Go to Sleep?

  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. If any academic researchers are reading this I have a ability that is either supposed impossible or very rare. Or at least was years ago.. I can close my eyes and be asleep within a minute and at the same time go immediately into a dream state.. A ex fiance who used to observe this saw the tell tale rem movement of eyes for confirmation to her.. Myself I also remember all my dreams.. Many I will remember in part, sometimes only in feeling for many years after.. Dream memory follows into dreams meaning I can dream and be aware of a memory of a previous dream within this dream. I have had false awakenings.. I have been fascinated by dreams all my life and would love lucid dreams, I have been close for seconds but never a full dream.. I have been close in that I've thought I'm dreaming ill wake now..usually in startling positions in a dream.. Anyway any researches interested comment and I can email one on one with you concerning this.

  3. In the beginning of this show, I really wonder, what would the interviewed people say about sleep if they had never been exposed to any form of info about sleep. What if there was nothing to regurgitate??? I'm definitely not suggesting there's any wrong in the responses. I just really wonder (even outside of this topic) how would we respond without exposure to data, reports, or other forms of communicated info🤷🏽‍♀️

  4. Is that the only life this rat gets to experience ?? This small space ? … i don’t like how we get the information sometimes seems inhumane . That’s how I feel about of a lot of laboratory animals … it’s so unfair they are forced to live there life being test subjects .never being able to truly Liveor experience a larger life .

  5. Thanks for the video! I believe sleep is crucial to keeping our bodies functioning properly. When I go to sleep, my mind often goes in search of a bathroom with a working toilet inside a house with many rooms. It's never the same exact house, but like a maze that changes each time I have the dream. The urge to urinate or deficate is so strong that I spend what seems like hours opening door-after-door, in a panic, hoping one of the rooms will be a bathroom with a toilet that is not stopped up with toilet paper and/or feces. Sometimes the room will be what appears to be a bathroom, with a sink and a tub, but it won't have a toilet at all. Sometimes the room will be a bedroom where someone is sleeping. When entering such rooms, I immediately wonder if there is a bathroom attached to the room. So, I tip-toe around the room opening any door I see, hoping I will find a toilet. Some doors lead to just closets. Some lead to large living rooms. I feel like a rat in a maze and a working toilet is the exit. Eventually, I get so frustrated at "needing to go", I bolt awake and realize I was just dreaming and that the purpose of the dream was to alert my body to the fact that my bladder or bowels needed to be emptied; at which point, I get up and walk to our bathroom, which has a working toilet….thank God! LOL Afterward, when I return to bed and fall back asleep, such dreams do not return. One time when I was having one of those dreams, I dreamed that I said to myself, "This can't be happening….not being able to find a toilet….so, I must be dreaming." At which point, I woke up.

  6. I don't dream anymore. One time I dreamed that I killed Jesus and Satan. Weird. I also dreamed that I was levitating and I remember saying I don't wanna go to hell. It was terrifying. I remember asking god to not let me dream anymore and boom. I stopped dreaming. Uts weird

  7. I really need help. I find myself sleeping all the time no matter where am at. In my office, in the car, etc. I just can't wake up early enough so am always late to every place. I would actually sleep 24/7 if l have the chance. Is something wrong with me?

  8. My dreams have been totally bizarre lately , its gotten to the point where i have a completely interactive , vivid dream every night. Sometimes i cant even explain it , but i think ive also been experiencing sleep paralysis lately , thats what brought me to this video just now after i woke up lol. ive been told i move and sometimes speak when i sleep too , the dreams started after i got clean from opiates a year ago in march.


  10. What if when we sleep what we are doing is downloading our experiences of everyday life to the Creator to experience and interpret and upload and in a way for the spirit to experience what it means to be alive and every living thing is a part of this. Who knows these things other than the Creator of all…god bless you all and thank you

  11. I think the reason the mouse was dreaming of the track backwards because he was made to run it several times and I assume he was never able to find his way back. So it probably thinks its sleeping deep in a hole somewhere and his brain was trying to figure a way out back to all the other mice! But who knows really.

  12. My question would be. If seals evolved to be able to move one flipper to keep them a float and keep them from drowning, how did they keep from drowning before they evolved? The answer, They didn't evolve, God created them that way. As He did humans and earth and everything else.

  13. This is just more Pseudo-Science Brainwashing!! Your dreams are one thing and one thing only. Your dreams are memories of your own experiences through the eons of lifetimes that your consciousness has been in existence. If you run into a person and then dream about them…it is because you have known them before. A lot of things trigger those different memories to come to life again in your dreams. If you keep a journal of your dreams instead of writing them off as random brain synapsis…you will gain great insight into the higher you…your soul.

  14. Like I said for the most part other than the human brain there is no logical reason for sleep ten bucks says the comments I left nobody will truly know a good answer Theory and metaphor are not a substitute for replication of true fact provable fact and I'm not saying this in a harsh way I truly want to know because they 100% unequivocally said the brain does not have the ability to repair itself only do workarounds there is your Enigma there should be no logical reason why any creature really need sleep if there is no soul no consciousness so-to-speak don't confuse Consciousness with intellect or specialness okay we're talking very specific and that is your rabbit hole and many have tried and many have failed and still fail

  15. If you really want to get into some cognate head games you need to look into how the human brain interprets the photons that we perceive the world and actually realize you're not witnessing the world in real time which they have done studies improved what is the mechanism that makes up for this time delay so you don't walk into a hole or off a cliff there is a mighty deep red hole right there because they have measured her real delay in real time and the mechanism that compensates to keep you safe

  16. Yeah it is highly fascinating everything they're talking about really I'm not being a sniper but I would want to understand better the compression ratios in every living creature for storing memory vital memories and then in the human animal or we can recall early childhood memories to the point we understand the waking world around us vividly and quite a few people can remember way back that's a lot of data if you're dealing with a subject within 50 to 70 years or higher that do not have any problems with memory loss or cognitive abilities I want to know what the data ratio for compression is where it is really store because if you run a computer and you try to put 50 to 70 years worth of data that can be recalled well that's a mighty big hard drive

  17. Yeah I can't buy into that you have essential system functions that are involuntary okay if you're learning that doesn't make sense then you would have major heart dysfunction not to mention a whole host of other things I just don't buy that the thermal is regulated by learned behavior maybe having too much blankets or too few or maybe the creatures did not whatever plume or the their winter coats or they didn't shed their coats those are more believable factors

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