When you go to sleep, your brain doesn’t take a nap. According to a recent study, it keeps working: organizing memories by what’s important and what isn’t, in a form of “memory triage.” One of the researchers, UC Berkeley professor of psychology Matthew Walker, joins us to discuss his findings, and to answer questions on sleep and memory.

Matthew Walker, professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, and head of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory

  • I’m curious about napping. I often feel better after a short nap, even as short as 10 or 15 minutes, but I suppose that in such a short time the brain wouldn’t reach REM sleep. How beneficial are naps?


    Have studies been done on the effects of sleep drugs like Ambien, Melatonin or Marijuana?

  • Cathy

    Can you have too much sleep assuming you are in good health?

  • Raj

    It was mentioned that sleep can aid with a specific problem/issue. Is
    there any research or recommendations for using sleep to brainstorm new ideas?

  • M D Kohn

    Question for Forum Sleep Program — Is it better to take sleeping pills or not if one is severely sleep deprived? Is it dangerous to take sleep aids if one has sleep apnea? I have sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, hot flashes (at age 67), arthritis aches, and environmental noise which keep me awake. Does this up my odds of developing senile dementia like my (late) mother?

  • Elaine

    Recently made a tincture of marijuana in brandy – take about a dropperful each night – can’t believe how much better I am sleeping. Is there any science to support this?

  • David

    I often feel like I’m falling asleep during meetings, lectures, while reading, and even while driving. I feel like I get enough sleep at night so what is causing this?

  • Is it true that you can live longer without food and water than you can without sleep?

  • Question for Forum Sleep Program — What you can you tell us about the phenomenon of sleep paralysis? As someone who has experienced it several times, I can attest to it’s strangeness and intensity. It often coincides with auditory and visual hallucinations. Why does it happen?

  • Question – I am a school board member and we changed the start times of our high schools because of studies that teens circadian rhythm has them sleeping later at night, yet they “need” more than 8 hours of sleep during this growth time. What new research is there about this? What time would be optimum for teens to start their days?

  • Neil

    Here’s a great observation from Thomas Dekker, a contemporary of Shakespeare:

    “Do but consider what an excellent thing sleep is… that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. Who complains of want? of wounds? of cares? of great men’s oppressions? of captivity? whilst he sleepeth?

    Beggars in their beds take as much pleasure as kings: can we therefore surfeit on this delicate Ambrosia? Can we drink too much of that whereof to taste too little tumbles us into a churchyard, and to use it but indifferently throws us into Bedlam?

    No, no, look upon Endymion, the moon’s minion, who slept three score and fifteen years, and was not a hair the worse for it.”

  • John Wang

    Does melatonin help sleep and memory? Is there any bad side effect?

  • belle

    I’m wondering if hurried modern schedules and the resulting lack of sleep could contribute to increased violence in schools and workplaces.

  • Hunaid

    I’ve sleep apnea, and I’m now on CPAP since past 3 months. It has improved my sleep dramatically, however I still feel that I’m still far from an optimum sleep. I also track my sleep with the mobile device UP and I see that I’m getting approx 3 hours of deep sleep. but i’m awake for 1.5 hours average every night. My question is that is this amount of deep sleep enough and how long does it take to pay off the sleep debt.

  • Chris OConnell

    There are people who are literally proclaiming that we have the greatest health care system in the world. It was a huge talking point for the right during the Obamacare debate that went on all through 2009 and into 2010. And we have people calling in with serious medical issues who can’t get medical help because they can’t afford to go to the doctor.

    Concerning our healthcare system, the US (or the right wing at least) is like a child with our fingers in our ears going “lalalalalalala I can’t hear you.”

  • Jen

    Could your guest talk a little about insomnia? I have no problem falling asleep, but will then be up for hours in the middle of the night. Are there any recommendations/remedies (other than medical sleep aids)?

    • I know this one. It’s called Sleep Maintenance Insomnia. It’s very common. I had it for awhile. Ask your doctor about it or look it up online and you’ll find a lot of information.

  • Guest

    How long does non-REM (deep sleep/stage 5 sleep) need to last for it to be “effective”? I typically finish REM sleep within 20 minutes during a daytime nap and feel most rested after exactly 30 minutes of napping.

  • Alan Barkan

    Does the 7/8 hours of sleep have to be one block or can it be 3 hours+ 2 hours + 2 hours etc?

  • Sean

    How can I join any sleep studies with Dr. Walker? As a student, I get very odd sleeper and not to be pompous, but I feel like I could be quite useful in sleep studies due to my abnormal/erratic sleep patterns.

  • Albert

    I forgot… what is this show about?

  • Jewiel & Jack

    what is the cause of insomia?

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