Podcast: The Psychology of Sleep by Prof Ray Miller
This is a podcast and summary of ‘To sleep, perchance to dream: 30 years in the land of Morpheus’ a talk done by Professor Ray Miller, on the 7th of November:
Sleep is something we are all so familiar with that it rarely occurs to us how little we know about it. We spend around one third of our life in sleep. It is something we share with the entire kingdom of plants and animals. We can’t seem to do without it. But even basic questions like why we sleep at all are only just beginning to be answered.
There are many myths about sleep and many facts that are surprising. Understanding sleep cycles and the changes in both brain and body activity casts some light on that mysterious realm that evades our direct, conscious awareness.
Past theories have depended largely on subjective experiences, external observation and crude, biophysical measures. Only with the development of Electroencephalography (EEG) and brain scanning are we beginning to get a more objective view. Some of the results cast much of what we thought we knew into doubt.
And then there are dreams. Portents of the future, the high road to the unconscious or the random products of neurological processes. Dreams have been the subject of much speculation and are at the core of myth and meaning in many cultures. They have been explored extensively in literature and psychology but, once again, we are only beginning to be able to compare the competing theories and seek out some clearer answers. The discovery of the fascinating area of sleep and dreams should keep you awake!