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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.

Credits (Click to expand)

Jeff Semple

host & narrator
Dr. Jennifer Gardy

executive producer
Dugald Maudsley

Scott Harper
David Murray

executive story consultant
Dugald Maudsley

David Murray

director of photography
Terry Zazulak

sound recordist
Michael Kennedy

Alex Khaskin

Monika Delmos

production manager
Diane Marcotte

production coordinator
Gillian Main

visual effects designer
Mark Alberts

post production supervisor/online editor
Eric Wiegand

visual researcher
Elspeth Domville

additional camera
Jerry Vienneau
Gerald Lewis
Blinky Semple

re-recording mixer
Grant Edmonds

sfx editor
Andy Frech

assistant sfx editor
Quinn Edmonds

colour correction
Colin Moore

David McCaughna

production accountant
Rebecca Humble McCulloch

legal counsel
David Steinberg

archival material courtesy of

Dr. Scott Killgore
Infield Fly Productions
University of Rochester

special thanks

Center for Sleep and Cognition
George Ko
Ghryll Murphy
James Simon
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology
Oregon Health & Science University
Horseshoe Valley Resort
Université de Montréal
Cannery Casino
University of Colorado Boulder
Harvard University
Kathrin Dannert

produced with the participation of

Canada Media Fund Logo

Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit

Ontario Media Development Corporation – Film and Television Tax Credits 

Rogers Telefund

Produced By

Infield Fly Productions 

For Infield Fly Productions

business affairs
Gillian Main

@ 2016 IF: Myth 5 Productions Inc.

for the CBC

director of production
Alexandra Lane

director of finance
Julie Lawlor

executive in charge of production
Sue Dando

executive director unscripted content
Jennifer Dettman

The Nature of Things
with David Suzuki
produced by
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

“produced in association with” animation
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
(copyright 2016)

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