Mysteries Of Sleep

Episodes

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Broadcast
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01Dreaming2017121220171218 (R4)

What happens when signals in the brain misfire and dreams become terrifying nightmares?

Series in which neurologist Dr Guy Leschziner explores various sleep disorders.

Imagine waking up and finding you're paralysed. Unable to move. Dark, shadowy figures enter your room, demonic images press against your face. You open your mouth to scream but you can't make a sound. A heavy pressure bears down on you. You feel like you're suffocating. The more you panic, the longer it lasts. Welcome to the terrifying world of sleep paralysis - just one of the sleep disorders experienced by patients of neurologist, Dr Guy Leschziner, from Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals in London.

In this programme, he explores this and other medical conditions that affect normal dreaming and assesses what they tell us about the brain and its control of our sleep.

Dreaming usually occurs in REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement sleep) when our brains are very active, but our bodies are not. A switch in the brain paralyses almost all our muscles, to stop us hurting ourselves. But sometimes this switch is faulty, causing sleep disorders that can significantly impact daily life.

We meet Evelyn who experiences sleep paralysis and horrific hallucinations. Christian describes his narcolepsy, a rare brain condition that makes him suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times - including when driving a forklift truck. Adrian recounts his experience of cataplexy, a sleep disorder that can happen during the day and means he suddenly loses control of his muscles. And we hear from John who has REM sleep behaviour disorder (known as RBD) which causes him to act out his dreams, kicking and thrashing in his sleep. Sometimes injuring himself and his wife, Liz. And we learn how RBD may be an early warning of degenerative brain conditions like Parkinson's disease and certain types of dementia.

Presenter: Dr Guy Leschziner
Producer: Sally Abrahams.

01Sleep Deprivation And Insomnia2017121920171225 (R4)

If we don't snooze, we lose. How badly does lack of sleep affect our mind and our body?

Series in which neurologist Dr Guy Leschziner explores various sleep disorders.

Lack of sleep can make us sick, fat and slow. But what if a sleep disorder is to blame? What happens when no matter how much sleep you get, it's never enough?

In the last of a three-part series, neurologist Dr Guy Leschziner explores medical causes of sleep deprivation or disruption and their consequences. We meet some of his patients, including 17 year-old Vincent, whose internal body clock runs on a different rhythm from the world around him, leaving him wide awake when everyone else is tucked up in bed. We hear from Mary Rose, whose restless legs stop her from getting to sleep and staying asleep and Claire, whose severe insomnia led to a breakdown. And we talk to Maria, whose mysterious symptoms turned out to be due to one of the most common sleep disorders, sleep apnoea.

In this programme, we learn about the medical causes of lack of sleep and the serious impact that these conditions have on our brain function, mood and general health.

Presenter: Dr Guy Leschziner
Producer: Sally Abrahams.

0101Sleepwalking20171205

Bizarre bedtime behaviours that include a woman who rides her motorbike while asleep.

Why do some of us do bizarre things in our sleep? Like riding a motorbike, using a shoe to 'phone for a pizza or even having sex while sleeping? These are complex behaviours and yet sleepwalkers aren't aware of what they're doing and often have no memory of their strange night-time activities.

These sleep disorders are known as non-REM parasomnias and include conditions like night terrors and sleep eating.

So why does it happen? Sleepwalking usually occurs during deep sleep, when something triggers the brain to wake - but not completely. So the areas that control walking and other movement wake up, yet other parts, involved in awareness and rational thinking, remain asleep. What's confusing is that sleepwalkers look awake - their eyes are open - but they're really not awake. They're not really asleep either. The brain is awake and asleep at the same time. We have known this happens in some animals, who can sleep with half of their brain at a time. But recently, we have learnt that similar things can happen in the human brain.

In the first of a three-part series, neurologist, Dr Guy Leschziner, talks to patients he's been treating at his sleep clinic at Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals in London. They include Jackie who began sleepwalking as a child and continued her strange night-time behaviour as an adult, riding her motorbike whilst sleeping.
We hear from James whose night terrors have become so violent his wife has begged him to get help; from Alex who rescues people from floods in his sleep. And we talk to Tom, whose recent diagnosis of sexsomnia has had a significant impact on his life.

These remarkable sleepwalking experiences help us to understand the complex workings of the human brain.

Presenter: Dr Guy Leschziner
Producer: Sally Abrahams.

0102Dreaming20171212

What happens when signals in the brain misfire and dreams become terrifying nightmares?

Imagine waking up and finding you're paralysed. Unable to move. Dark, shadowy figures enter your room, demonic images press against your face. You open your mouth to scream but you can't make a sound. A heavy pressure bears down on you. You feel like you're suffocating. The more you panic, the longer it lasts. Welcome to the terrifying world of sleep paralysis - just one of the sleep disorders experienced by patients of neurologist, Dr Guy Leschziner, from Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals in London.

In this programme, he explores this and other medical conditions that affect normal dreaming and assesses what they tell us about the brain and its control of our sleep.

Dreaming usually occurs in REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement sleep) when our brains are very active, but our bodies are not. A switch in the brain paralyses almost all our muscles, to stop us hurting ourselves. But sometimes this switch is faulty, causing sleep disorders that can significantly impact daily life.

We meet Evelyn who experiences sleep paralysis and horrific hallucinations. Christian describes his narcolepsy, a rare brain condition that makes him suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times - including when driving a forklift truck. Adrian recounts his experience of cataplexy, a sleep disorder that can happen during the day and means he suddenly loses control of his muscles. And we hear from John who has REM sleep behaviour disorder (known as RBD) which causes him to act out his dreams, kicking and thrashing in his sleep. Sometimes injuring himself and his wife, Liz. And we learn how RBD may be an early warning of degenerative brain conditions like Parkinson's disease and certain types of dementia.

Presenter: Dr Guy Leschziner
Producer: Sally Abrahams.

0103Sleep Deprivation And Insomnia20171219

If we don't snooze, we lose. How badly does lack of sleep affect our mind and our body?

Lack of sleep can make us sick, fat and slow. But what if a sleep disorder is to blame? What happens when no matter how much sleep you get, it's never enough?

In the last of a three-part series, neurologist Dr Guy Leschziner explores medical causes of sleep deprivation or disruption and their consequences. We meet some of his patients, including 17 year-old Vincent, whose internal body clock runs on a different rhythm from the world around him, leaving him wide awake when everyone else is tucked up in bed. We hear from Mary Rose, whose restless legs stop her from getting to sleep and staying asleep and Claire, whose severe insomnia led to a breakdown. And we talk to Maria, whose mysterious symptoms turned out to be due to one of the most common sleep disorders, sleep apnoea.

In this programme, we learn about the medical causes of lack of sleep and the serious impact that these conditions have on our brain function, mood and general health.

Presenter: Dr Guy Leschziner
Producer: Sally Abrahams.