While You Were Sleeping

Dr. Jennifer Gardy takes an incredible journey deep into the mysterious world of sleep to discover the secrets that could change our lives
Available on CBC Gem

While You Were Sleeping

Nature of Things

Share a look at how animals have aced sleeptime with your children.

Jennifer Gardy talks to The Current about the serious consequences of sleep deprivation.

For thousands of years, we’ve regarded sleep as nothing more than an annihilation of consciousness. But there is one compelling fact that has always stood in the way of that view. 

“Even the Greek philosophers wondered why we needed to sleep,” says neuroscientist, Dr. Kenneth Wright.  “If sleep wasn’t important, it’s probably one of the most significant mistakes that evolution ever made.”

Yet decades of intense research have failed to discover the key function of sleep. But now, thanks to revolutionary new technology, innovative animal research and extraordinary advances in genetics, all that’s about to change.

Once seen as a blank screen, the sleeping brain is emerging as an energetic and purposeful machine.

“In parts of sleep, the brain is at least as active and maybe more active than it is during waking,” says Dr. Robert Stickgold, one of the world’s leading sleep researchers.

From regulating our weight to consolidating our memories to cleaning toxins from our brain, around the world researchers are attempting to penetrate the mysterious world of sleep and decipher its secrets – secrets that could change our lives.

SCENE FROM THE FILM: One study shows how sleep deprivation triggers the brain's desire for more food.

“I think the brain carries out its most sophisticated memory and brain functions while we sleep,” says Dr. Stickgold.  “I think that what happens during sleep permits what happens in the waking brain,” agrees neuroscientist, Dr. Jeff Iliff. 

Join Dr. Jennifer Gardy as she goes on an extraordinary odyssey from a city that never sleeps to an isolation chamber in the Colorado Rockies, from one of the most unique research centres in the world to the world of dreams. Her goal is simple: Discover why we sleep.