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Why do we sleep? | Russell Foster

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Why do we sleep? | Russell Foster

Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist: He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, it turns out, for something we do with one-third of our lives. In this talk, Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep, busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages -- and hints at some bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
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TED talk summary: Russell Foster - Why do we sleep?

This TED talk summary is used in a lesson plan that can be found at The complete and original video can be found at
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One more reason to get a good night’s sleep | Jeff Iliff

The brain uses a quarter of the body's entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body's mass. So how does this unique organ receive and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of vital nutrients? New research suggests it has to do with sleep.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
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The Science of Sleep: Melatonin to Neural Pathways

Russell Foster, Debra Skene and Stafford Lightman discuss the science of sleep. Why do we need sleep and what are the physiological processes driving our circadian rhythm? When is our circadian clock disrupted and how does this affect our health? Cognitive neuroscientist Vincent Walsh chairs the debate.
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The science behind sleeplessness can help us understand our rhythms so we can live better and healthier lives. While hormones, such a melatonin, play a role in driving our circadian clock, the amount of sleep we get and our sleep cycles also affect our hormonal release patterns, with far-reaching implications on our health.

Cognitive neuroscientist Vincent Walsh chairs a discussion with a panel of experts who specialise in circadian rhythms. They explore how light detection plays a role in our sleep-wake cycles, how hormone release is regulated and the implications of changes to our circadian clock and sleeplessness over time.

This event was supported by British Psychological Society and Society for Endocrinology.

Russell Foster is Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. The research interests of his group range across visual neuroscience, circadian rhythms and sleep.
You can buy his book The Rhythms Of Life now -

Debra Skene is Professor of Neuroendocrinology at the University of Surrey. She leads the research group 'Sleep, Chronobiology and Addiction' and her research focusses on links between human circadian clocks, sleep and metabolism in health, circadian disorders and metabolic diseases.

Stafford Lightman is Professor of Medicine at Bristol University. Researching the mechanisms of stress-related disease, his research has particularly looked at how neuroendocrine rhythms signal to other tissues in the body.

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Why Do We Sleep?

(Visit: Sonia Ancoli-Israel, Ph.D., recipient of the National Sleep Foundation’s 2007 Lifetime Achievement award, discusses why people need sleep. Sleep disorders are a major public health concern affecting millions of individuals, families, and communities on a daily basis. We are a chronically overtired country, which often has grave health repercussions. Watch the Whole Show here: Series: Excerpts [Show ID: 32400]

Why Do We Sleep?

A short documentary on the mystery of sleep.

This was realised by Yeachan Park, Gus Zimmerman and Farhan Abdullah as part of their Science communication course, at Imperial College London.

All credits to them.
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Here's What Happens When You Sleep

Have you ever wondered about what happens when you sleep? Sleeping every night is important to recharge and prepare ourselves for the coming day. However, most people don’t know what happens to their body while they’re asleep. But it’s interesting to know that when you sleep, some parts of your body go into overdrive. The rest however, slows down, and some even shuts down completely.

During sleep, you hit a point of rest called REM, which stands for Rapid Eye Movement. It's the level of sleep where most of your dreams happen. During this phase, your body becomes paralyzed. However, during this part of sleep, there's a part of you that's always moving, and that's your eyes.

There are a number of weird things that happen while you sleep - from involuntary muscle twitches in your limbs, to getting aroused, and even hearing explosions. Shedding your skin and waking up taller, and even sleep texting. In this video, you’ll learn more about the weird things that happen to us when we sleep.


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Music: Epidemic Sound
Visuals: VideoBlocks / Adobe Stock / Pexels / Pixabay / Other
Voice-over Recording, Audio & Video Production by Brainy Dose

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Russell Foster on how sleep science explains eye disease and mental health Full WIRED He

Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford, wants to change your views, thoughts and ideas about sleep. Subscribe to WIRED ▻▻

The full article is available here: Professor Russell Foster of Oxford University delivers The Physiological Societys.

What does sleep have to do with mental health? Everything! To see more seminars like this, visit: neuratalks.org The focus of Neuroscience Research Australia, or NeuRA, has always been.

Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality | Anil Seth

Right now, billions of neurons in your brain are working together to generate a conscious experience -- and not just any conscious experience, your experience of the world around you and of yourself within it. How does this happen? According to neuroscientist Anil Seth, we're all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it reality. Join Seth for a delightfully disorienting talk that may leave you questioning the very nature of your existence.

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The science of how much sleep you actually need

Watch the whole series:

Getting plenty of sleep each night is important to maintaining a healthy and productive life. But how much sleep do you actually need?

Joe Avella and Jessica Orwig tackle this question on the Facebook series Science the $#!* out of it.

For the average adult, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

Today, however, many Americans are sleep-deprived, which can have significant adverse effects on physical and cognitive functions.

The reason why some people don’t get enough sleep can be accredited to busy modern lifestyles. But there are other reasons too.

It turns out habits such as using electronic devices or drinking alcohol right before bedtime can be detrimental to getting a good night’s sleep.

Learn more on how to get better sleep on this episode of Science the $#!* out of it. Watch the whole series:

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Russell Foster on how sleep science explains eye disease and mental health | Health | WIRED

Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford, wants to change your views, thoughts and ideas about sleep.
Subscribe to WIRED ►►

Sleep is still in many regards a mystery for scientists. However, Professor Foster, who spoke at WIRED Health, is working in new areas of neuroscience that are finding links between our sleep cycles and the state of our mental health, which could drastically change the way we think about sleep.

WIRED Health is a one-day summit designed to introduce, explain and predict the coming trends facing the medical and personal healthcare industries. This ambitious inaugural event was held on Tuesday April 29, at the new home of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 30 Euston Square, London.

Check out the full WIRED Health playlist here:

WIRED Health will return in 2015. Look at for details.

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WIRED brings you the future as it happens - the people, the trends, the big ideas that will change our lives. An award-winning printed monthly and online publication. WIRED is an agenda-setting magazine offering brain food on a wide range of topics, from science, technology and business to pop-culture and politics.

Russell Foster on how sleep science explains eye disease and mental health | Health | WIRED

Russell Foster: What is Sleep?

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Sleep Disruption & Mental Illnesses - Russell Foster

Russell Foster, Professor at Oxford Sleep and Circadien Neuroscience Institute was speaking during the Dreem Sleep Conference on how and why sleep disruption occurs and its connection with mental illness.

Light, clocks and sleep: keeping an eye on the time, by Prof Russell Foster

36% of our lives are spent sleeping. This means that if you live to be 90, then you'll have spent 32 years sleeping.

Research by Prof. Russell Foster and other highlights that a good night's rest isn't a luxury--it's critical for your brain and for your health

Talk abstract:

We and most organisms possess a 24h biological (circadian) clock which acts to ‘fine-tune’ physiology and behaviour to the varying demands of the day/night cycle. Such a clock is only useful if biological time remains synchronised to solar time, and the daily change in the gross amount of light (irradiance) at dawn or dusk provides the most reliable indicator of the time of day. In mammals the “master clock” is located within small paired nuclei at the base of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). The SCN receive direct retinal projections which adjust the clock to the light/dark cycle, and eye loss in mammals blocks this completely. But how does the eye detect this light to provide the re-setting signal? Surprisingly, we found that visually blind mice, with genetic defects in the rods and cones, could still use their eyes to regulate the circadian system. These, and a host of subsequent experiments including studies in humans with genetic defects of the eye, showed that the processing of light information by the circadian and classical visual systems is different and that the mammalian eye contains an additional non-rod, non-cone photoreceptor based upon a small number of photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (pRGCs). These remarkable, and recently discovered receptors use “melanopsin” as their photopigment, which is sensitive in the blue part of the spectrum around 480nm. This presentation will explore the discovery, biology and clinical importance of this third photoreceptor system of the eye.
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About Prof. Russell Foster:

Russell Grant Foster, CBE, FRS FMedSci (born 1959) is a British professor of circadian neuroscience, currently based at Brasenose College at the University of Oxford. He and his group are credited with the discovery of the non-rod, non-cone, photosensitive ganglion cells in the mammalian retina which provide input to the circadian rhythm system. Foster was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 2008 and a member of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council council in 2011. (from Wikipedia)

Prof Russell Foster - Sleep and Young People

Prof Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at the University of Oxford talks with Director of Voices from Oxford Dr Sung Hee Kim. He stresses the importance of maintaining a good sleep cycle to the mental and physical health of young people. Russell speaks of how many teenagers nap after school, and then go to bed too late after interacting with the bright screens used in modern technology, none of which is conducive to getting a good night's sleep which is vital to be able to be able to function properly the following day. Russell also offers his advice and tips on how to improve sleep patterns, and thus become healthier, happier and more productive.
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Sleep Disorders

(Visit: Do we really need to sleep? Dr. Thomas Neylan looks at intrinsic sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia and what to do if they affect you. Dr. Elissaios Karageorgio looks at how aging affects sleep and Dr. Rochelle Zak looks at the neurophysiology of sleep.
Recorded on 10/28/2015. Series: UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine presents Mini Medical School for the Public [2/2016] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 30139]

Russell Foster, University of Oxford, discusses circadian rhythms and mental health

Russell Foster will be presenting The Physiological Society Annual Public Lecture at The ICC, Birmingham on Monday 22 July from 19:30 - 20:30.

Russell's lecture will be on 'The Rhythms of Life -- What your body clock means to you' and is aimed at furthering the understanding of the general public and schools to the importance of physiology.

The lecture is free and open to all. Further information can be found at (Public Events).

What Daylight Means To Me - Prof Russell Foster

Find out more at

Russell Foster is Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at Oxford University and a fellow of the Royal Society. His research into light sensitivity in the eye has led to new discoveries about light and the role it plays in our mental and physical wellbeing.

Maryn McKenna: What do we do when antibiotics don’t work any more?

Penicillin changed everything. Infections that had previously killed were suddenly quickly curable. Yet as Maryn McKenna shares in this sobering talk, we've squandered the advantages afforded us by that and later antibiotics. Drug-resistant bacteria mean we're entering a post-antibiotic world — and it won't be pretty. There are, however, things we can do ... if we start right now.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
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Inside the mind of a master procrastinator | Tim Urban

Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn't make sense, but he's never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban takes us on a journey through YouTube binges, Wikipedia rabbit holes and bouts of staring out the window -- and encourages us to think harder about what we're really procrastinating on, before we run out of time.

For more from Tim Urban, visit Wait But Why:

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The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more.

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