secrets of the sleeping brain – Matt Walker

Sleep, blessed sleep

I think everybody I meet has some kind of trouble sleeping at least sometimes: be it quantity, quality or both.

Yesterday I went to take a nap thinking it would be the normal  half hour thing that works for me and I woke up six hours later. I guess my brain needed me out of the way so it could get on with it’s thing.

We don’t know much about sleep but this guy [Prof] Matt Walker is a leading researcher and is pretty good at sharing what we’ve learned so far.

See how Matt Walker  illustrates sleeplessness in the modern world  by plotting a proxy measure: how we are self-medicating that sleeplessness tracked by  the exponential growth of coffee shops in N America.

[and we wonder why “anxiety” is in the rise?]

This is a long talk and covers a lot of ground. The first half is more about sleep and memory, the second about sleep and emotions . It’s all good but here’s one of my favourite bits….

we are all flagrantly psychotic

Matt Walters suggests that maybe we are all “flagrantly psychotic” every night and several times each night.

We don’t yet understand much about REM sleep and it’s role but in terms of brain activity we do know it looks a lot like psychosis. We are only beginning to understand both but so far the biggest difference between the two looks to be that in REM sleep the brain paralyses the body – perhaps to prevent us from acting out our dreams.

Maybe this can open up a different  understanding of psychosis – broader, more accepting and less scary:  and offering us more clues about how to help folks when it gets a bit to far out there…

It’s all good including many great questions from the audience – all 1hr 41mins but its on so it’s indexed, and, like a game of football, it’s divided in two halves …and if that’s still daunting  try dropping in at  3:45min and 6.00 min and 30 min …


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