Studies show that, especially for young children, if you prematurely wake them up and deprive them of that much needed sleep, it becomes detrimental to their proper cognitive development further down in life. I just wonder about the amount of damage we're doing to kids with 7:20 AM school start times.
- Ilian Daskalov, senior undergraduate student at University of California, Irvine
Ep 19: The Sleeping Brain: Better Than a Cup of Coffee
This episode of the Podcast On Consciousness riffs on the discussion with Bernard Baars in Episode 18 on sleep, waking, connectivity, and global workspace functions. Alea Skwara, PhD, UC Davis, and Ilian Daskalov, a cognitive neuroscience upper division student from UC Irvine, pull at the threads of conscious and unconscious states in this thought-provoking discussion to unravel the topics of consciousness and sleep.
0:00 - Intro
2:12 – How do we differentiate between conscious and unconscious states?
4:59 – The limitations of our vocabulary
8:11 – The sleeping brain
12:12 – Sleep in modern-day society
17:49 – How to improve sleep quality
What differentiates conscious and non-conscious states? Alea explains that depending on the context of the conversation and various definitions, when talking about sleep, consciousness can be described as the ability to integrate information in a unitary and cohesive way. Ilian and Alea talk about how limitations in our vocabulary may restrict our understanding of consciousness.
Their dialogue evolves into the topic of sleep. Alea shares a personal lucid dreaming experience, where different levels of conscious awareness made her realize that she was actually in a dream state.
Ilian explores his interest in the practical side of having a good night’s sleep, and shares details about the book by neuroscientist Matthew Walker, titled “Why We Sleep.” He shares Walkers’ disappointment at how society has glorified the sacrifice of sleep for various other activities, and some inherent consequences to this.
In the final moments of the conversation, Ilian discusses some of the tools that he uses to optimize his sleep routine, emphasizing how the regularity of our sleep schedule is as important as the length of the sleep itself. Surprisingly, viewing early morning light is crucial to maintaining a regular circadian rhythm, which, in turn, is essential for one’s overall well-being and longevity.
Alea Skwara is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis where she studies cognitive neuroscience. Her primary research focuses on compassion and responses to suffering. The main question that Alea is currently trying to answer is whether meditational practices can expand the range of people that a person can feel compassion for.
Ilian Daskalov is a senior undergraduate student at University of California, Irvine where he studies Cognitive Science. He holds an associate degree with honors from San Diego Mesa College. His research interests include sleep, psychedelics, and artificial intelligence. He is passionate about communicating science and promoting critical thinking.
Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics,a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.
Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.
He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.
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