TALK ABOUT Inception

What is sleep? Sleep is a condition of body and mind which typically reccurs for several hours every night in which the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes are closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended. We spend 36% of our lives asleep but we can’t explain what it is. Everything sleeps, but unihemispheric sleep is where it shuts doewn half the brain and the other still works Whales and Dolphins can swim and sleep at the same time, there’s polyphasic sleep, monophasic sleep, kind of the regulation of the cycle of sleep, do you sleep once a day or multiple times a day? Some animals like Giraffs sleep 2 hours in a whole day, bihemispherically, monophasically, but they only do it for 2 hours. They get more of their life to live. Bats on the other hand, they sleep the most at 20 hours per day. Even some monocellular life bacteria will sleep as well, but in that case they’re not measuring actual sleep patterns, but activity vs nonactivity. It’s easy to spot when sleep is happening becaus ethey moniotor brain activity. So the brain produces electrical impulses that form waves, and when brain wave patterns indicate sleep, it’s actually a different state of consciousness from wakefulness, you can actually see it on an EEG or electroencephalogram, something they put on your head that reads your brain waves. So the brain is doing something completely different during sleep. It’s described in the research as if you had 2 brains. As you’re falling asleep you’re moving from consciousness to unconsciousness so in a concrete way its called a hypnogogic sleep, a middle ground where your brain is handing off different things to this second sub brain, so it’s giving away executive fiunction and control from one part of your brain to another, and when it’s doing that it drops the ball a little bit and causes you to twitch while you fall asleep. Sedation , or medically induced sleep ios not sleep, because the EEG patterns are different, the brain waves are very specific, comas are not considered sleep, you are unconscious but you’re not asleep, sleep is very specific. If you took a sleeping pill to go to sleep, you’re being sedated and your brain will hopefully go into sleep during that sedation. Sleep is a period where your brain acts differently and your body is in a state of unconsciousness, it can be woken up out of that and it can be helpful for your body to be in that state. You have to do it every day, and you’re gonna do it 36% of your whole life. So it’s funny we don’t understand something you’re doing for that much time.

Polyphasic sleep or “Da Vinci Sleep”, which is one technique. There are modern versions of sleep where you sleep for small amounts throughout the day and then sleep very little at night, some silicon valley types enjoy that where you sleep 20min at 3 o clock then 20 minutes at 7 then sleep 3 ohours from midnight to 3 am and then wake up and sleep again at 10am, just sleep throughout the day. Not all our jobs allow for that. Sleep works in chunks, so polyphasic sleep works because sleep comes in a very predictable cycle, it’s called the sleep-cycle and has 4 different stages, the first is the transition form wakefulness to a light sleep. Where you’ve layed down turned lights off and tunred the light soff, in 5-10 minutes the electrical sungals pulsing through your brain form a theta wave. Once the theta waves start to show up its the end of sleep stage one and into sleep stage 2. Sleep stage 2 is when the brain produces rapid bursts of activity called sleep spindles because they’re little spikes on the EEG, the heart rate slows down and the body temperature starts to drop. Which is why it’s better to sleep in a cooler bedroom than a warmer. At the end of 2 your body temperature starts to drop and you get to sleep stage 3, which is slow wave sleep or Delta sleep, which is when your brain forms delta waves, this lasts for an hour, brain activity comes in the form of those delta waves and people aren’t normally responsive in this sleep cycel, it’s harder to wake people up. This is where you do bedweetting or sleepwalking. Stage 4 is REM sleep, this is the one where your eyes move really fast and this is where your dreams are happening, at the end of 4 it doesn’t just stay 4 until you wake up, it transitions back to stage 2 where you get sleep spindles, then you get back to sleep, the longer you’;re asleep the more these cycles will happen. The benefits of sleep in this part during the deepest stages of sleep, the body is not just dreaming and hanging out, it’s repairing your muscle tissues, regrowing the tissues if you had a workout, it’s the part of sleep where the body takes nutrients from your body that were stored and builds those muscles up, repairs those bones, heals tyour body when it’s hurt, also strengthens the immune system, builds new antibodies and attacks invaders. It’s why when you’re sick with a virus which you can’t cure, the doctor recommends rest, because it allows your body to attack that invader, the lymphhatic system is highly active during sleep, it clears away toxins in the brain, it uses the same pathways that are used by other systems but it comes in and it clears out trash in your brain. It clears away toxins and it’s thought the lymphatic system might influence future alzheimers disease if you bar the lymphatic system from doing it’s job it will negatively affect you later. Also during sleep the best part is when your brain goes through it’s day and throws out things it doens’t need, so it keeps things in long and short term memory. When you go to sleep your brain goes through the memories of your day, decides what ‘s important and it consolidates them like “de-fragging” your brain, it sotres the ones that are important and gets rid of the ones it doesn’t need. When it comes to sleep you want it to do all of these things and you want to build your immune system and regrow your tissues, and yet, for some reason we’re super obsessed with not sleeping. Why do we sleep? We don’t even know, we just know that it happens and does these things. But can we do these things without sleep? That’s the real question at this point.

Some people don’t want to sleep at all. When you think about it, we would get a lot more done if we didn’t spend a third of our lives asleep, there are stories unsupported that history’s greatest inventors and busybodies were able to do just that. Instead of 40 winks of sleep maybe they got 5 or 6. Some people inspired by these stories, have tried to create a strategy they call “Polyphasic Sleep”, a little confusing because it’s also a term for people who have sleep disorders, they try to break up their sleep into short 30 minute increments throughout a 24 hour cycle. So does it work? The answer according to Doctor Pyotor Wozniak is sadly no, dr. Wozniak is an outspoken critic of polyphasic sleep. His studies have shown that the longer you try and stick with a polyphasic sleep schedule, the more likely you are to suffer the effects of sleep deprivation and disruption of your circadian rhythms, it turns out that we humans just do better with one good chunk of sleep each niight. So what do we do, wehere do we turn? Tech comnpanies are trying to answer that question and at CES 2017, we’re seeing examples of that, like “SleepNumber”, they’ve been i the game a long time, they announce a new sleep number tehcnology. Perhaps in the future we’ll be able to alter our bodies and our brains enough so that we don’t need sleep at all, imagine all the stuff we will get done, but that’s a long way away. Until then, we’re just gonna have to relax and try and get the rest that we need so that we can be the people we want to be.

Unlike your alarm clock, your circadian rhythm doesn’t have a snooze button. Your body is calibrated to the appearence and disapearence of natural light, when we mess with that things can get out of hand quickly. All living organisms from algae to bacteria have these natural It is synchrionized to the rising and setting of the sun and linked to changes in light. wheteher you’re an insect, bird or mammal, they affect the 3 big necessityies, eating sleeping, and mating. Everything from testosterone to bowel movement supression is controled by these mechanism. In humans we’re beginning to understand how these natural oscillations take place each day. What we’re sure about s that the main regulator of circadian rhythm can be found in the hypothalamus, a small area at the base of your brain that’s responsible for connecting the nervous system to your endocrine system. Our biological clock is dictated by a group of nerve cells in the hpothalamus called the Suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN, this is connected to our optic nerves allowing our SCN cells to respond to light and dark, so in the morning when our optic nerves sense light, SCN cells send signals to raise our temperature heart rate, blood pressure, and delay the release of hormones like melatonin. Researchers found that as our body produce rise throught the morning our memory alerness and concentration also shaprens so we tend to be at our cognitive best at the late morning,. It’s estimated that about 15% of our genes may be regulated by circadian rhythms.

Can you stay awake forever? Can you live without sleep? Simple answer is no with curent technology, there are no alternatives to sleep, since we can’t switch off half our brain in a unihemospheric way, Polyphasic sleep more than twice a day, biphasic sleep twice a day, and monophasic sleep are all fine, but you have to do one of them, your body will require you to do so. There is a question of whether or not other animals sleep. There are some animals we know of that don’t. Amphibians don’t really sleep, it comes down to activity vs inactivity, bullfrogs respond to shock tests during periods of inactivity, the same as when they’re awake, so we don’t know if they’re sleeping, we don’t know if they are. Fish and dolphins don’t really sleep, they just have that unihemispheric sleep, half their brain at a time so they can keep swimming around so they can keep being awake. There’s also hibernation, which is confusing, because it is and isn’t sleep, hibernating animals aren’t just going to wake up if you shake them. Hibernating animals actually go through physiological changes that get them in a state of hibernation. Sleeping animals, we don’t change physiologically when we go to sleep, when you lay down for the night you don’t become a different person, your body behaves differently, but you’re not physically or changing chemically too much. Hibernating animals are using this stored energy to get to a physiological state that is different from their non-hibernating state. Ex: an artci ground squirrels body duriong hibernation gets so low that the neurons in its brain are incapable of firing, that’s WAAAY deeper than sleep. If you do wake up a hibernatung animals by cutting down trees, if it wakes up, it may never go into that hibernating state again during that season. If you wake it up and it was supposed to be ther 6 months, that animals will die because it cant get in again. Bears dn’t hibernate fuly, polar bears dont hibernate at all, it’s a partial state because htye are still somewhat conscious. When it comes to not sleeping why would you want to? You can build tissues, get a better iummune ssystem , regenerate yourself. If you don’t sleep, you will die? The world record for sleep depravation is 264 houyrs of wakefullness, only 11 days without sleep. If you try and stay awake your brain will go through microsleeps where it forces you to sleep at regular intervals, but if you shook the person they’d response. U of chicago has lab technicians and they kept mice awake in their sleep lab for 2 weeks. The mice died of hypermetabolism, where the metabolism got so bad they couldn’t process energy and they died. There’s also a disease called fatal familial ionsomnia which is the only real example we have of humans not sleeping and then dying. Theres also increased stress, hyperstension, obesity, managing your body, getting sick easier, and having problems with your immune system and regenration.

But what is the future of sleep? When we sleep our brain makes connections with other parts of the brain. The brain strengthens immportant connections during the day while the unimportant ones are cut. But could we record our dreams? Brain waves are actual waves and carry actual information, are they similar to radiowaves? yes. Both brain waves and radiowaves are forms of electromagnetic radiation, waves that travel at the speed of light. Everytime you think, thousands of neurons fire at the same frequency and generate a wave. These waves oscillate at around 10 to 100 cycles per second. Radiowaves on the other hand oscillate at around 50 million to 1 billion times per second. Scientists have long used this phenomenon to measure brain activity and interface the brain to electronic devices, it allows us to see which parts of the brain are active for different activities, and which parts of the brain are active during dreaming. We still barely understand why we sleep let alone why we dream. There might be a device that allows us to peer into the mind of a dreamer. Scientists have created a technique using a functional MRI scanner, inside which subjects were shown simple pictures made of black and white pixels. The software then find s patterns in the brain activity that correspoind to the specific images, ex: if the letter T was shown, the software would record exactly how the brain reacted. After sufficient data, the subjects were shown completely different images and the software would predict and recreate what the siubjects were seeing. Further studies began to use more complex visuals and started monitoring the subjects in their sleep. They first had the subjects fall asleeep in an fMRI and would wake them up in the middle of dreaming, quickly asking them what they were dreaming about. They then used thousands of images from the internet to get a best approximation of what the subject was seeing based on brain scans. After doing thos nearly 200 times with each persona and plugging the information into a learning algorithm, software was used to interpret and generate their next dreams, by no means perfect, it was clear that the machine’s predicitons were better than chance, matching up with the dreamer’s description. Perhaps even more shiocking is a study that used actual video footage. After showing subjects 2 hours of movie footage and analyzing their brain activity, they then used an library of 18 million 1 second youtube clips to match the brain activity. On the left are unrelated clips that the subjects were later shown and on the right is what the software guessed they were seeing using a mashed up combination of the youtube clips as an approximation, all this based on their brain waves. As these became more and more complex, we come that much closer to actually come to recording our thoughts and dreams, after which we’ll find more clues into why we dream in the first place.

Could we record our dreams? I mean, the problem is that we can’t read your mind, so we don’t know what’s going on in there, we know there’s activity. The eyes are moving, the brain is active, but all we can do is reconstruct images based on trained images. Computers don’t understand how the brain works yet, so we can scan a brain with a functional MRI imager, it tells where the blood is flowing in your brain, then it can reconstruct images based on things it has seen you look at also in an fMRI machine. So if I showed a picture of a lemon while you’re sitting in an fMRI and it scans where your blood flows when you see that lemon, if you dream about a lemon. Maybe your blood would flow in that same way. That’s the best we got. In 2013 scientists in Japan reconstructed images from brain scans of dreaming people, and they turned them into short films which you can find online, really really amazing. They used an fMRI and made predictions usiong a learning algortithm, so your brain can’t really be plugged into a computer, but as long as we’re training the computer to know what you’re looking at, then it can sort of pick it up. The problem with the future of sleep is that all we’re trying to do in the future of sleep is get rid of it instea dof embrace it, we look down on sleep, sleep is something people did when they couldn’t stay awake, almost like a weakness, but hopefully that you know now, sleep is important to having a healthy and balanced life.

One day soon, our inner most thoughts may no longer be our own. Some neuroscientists are already translating the language of the brain into plain english. Neuroscientist Jack Galant is on a mission to translate the flurry of activity inside our heads into plain english. You might say, he’s writing the book of it. You can think of each part of the brain as translating between the world and whatever the brain activity is in that part of the brain, so there’s some sort of language you can think of that’s going to mediate between the world and the brain, and if you had some sort of language you can think of that’s going to mediate between the world and the brain, and if you had a list of all the things that related the world to the brain you’d essentially hadve a dictionary, the first brain dictionary Jack set out to build was for the language of sight. There are 50 to 70 arreas of the brain devoted to vision, so there’s 50-70 different dictionaries we’re gonna have to build, one for each region of the brain, it’s gonna be a big dictionary because the number of things you can see in the world is a really really large number. To build a brain dictionary, Jack and his colleagues, Shinji Nishimoto and Alex Hoove use an fMRI scanner to measure exactly how the brain respondes to a long series of video clips. So he has a viewr that allos him to visualize the brain while the movie plays. We must understand what the relationship is between each individual point in this brain and these movies. but as they compile thousands of scans of brains reacting to thosands of frames of video, Jack and his team found that certain objects triggered predictable patterns of blood flow and they began to build a dictionary of objects in the world defined as particular patterns of blood flow in the brain. Once we have this world brain dictionary, we can take it and run it backwards and create a brain world dictionary. To test that dictionary, they send the test subjects back to the fMRI to watch movies, except this time they don’t see what the subjects sees, Jack and his team have to guess using only the raw data from the brain scans and an advanced computer algorithm. So there’s probably say 10,000 points on the brain, 5000 used in this model and each point in the brain has a predicted brain activity that it generates when you stick an image throguh it, then we add information accross all those 10,000 points to come up with the best prediction. This is the image that only the subject could see, these are the top chouices the computer selects from the brain world dictionary, and this is the composite average. No matter what the subject sees in the world, the brain world dictionary can produce a rough copy. But this algorithm does more than just guessnwhat images people are watching, it can also guess what they are thinking about those images. Here’es the movie the subjects saw and on the right you can see 2000 nouns and verbs, the size of the word indicates the probability of the concept appearing in the video at that time. These are accurate semantic decodings, Jack’s team has built a dictionary of 2000 emotionally neutral concepts people might think when they watch their series of video, calibrating their computers to decode more personal meanings is only a matter of time and increasing the level of detail in the brain scans. We’re constantly suprised by how much information we can recover since the measurements we’re taking of the brain are really primitive, it raises a caution flag that i think we’re gonna have to deal with these eethical issues involving brain decoding sooner rather than later because we don’t know how fast this tech is gonna progress. What will it be used for and how can it be used? Brain hackers may soon be able to read your every thought, but then if your thoughts can be decoded, could they be altered? (Same Paragraph incliuded in “Brain Reprogramming”)


Lucid dreaming is alternatively a sought after skill, a huge myth, or something you can already do. Soon, the myth will be debunked for all of us, because researchers suggest that low electrical currents sent through the scalp can trigger self-awareness in dream states.
The article published in Nature recommends that 25 to 40 Hz of electricity may be responsible for lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreaming is the practice of conscious activity when one is asleep within a dream. You can choose where to go, want you want to do, and who you want to see.People even suggest training those who suffer from nightmares to practice lucid dreaming. More control over your dream state could avoid the fears that trigger nightmares.


Imagine if we were able to control our dreams with subtle pulses of electricity to shape the world we wanted to live in while asleep. Any foe that existed we could defeat with mental energy like Neo to the machine Sentinels.


Given the ability, with a little electrical kick, what would you want to dream? Would you create a whole world? Would you just want to walk and explore? Would you even be comfortable administering light electrical pulses through your scalp or for someone to do it for you? And would we become to preoccupied with our dreams and sleep our way through wakefulness?