Podcast Episode 136
with our guest Antonio Zadra

When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep


Our guest today, Antonio Zadra, is a full-time professor of psychology at the University of Montreal and is a researcher at the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep (CARSM). He holds a Masters in experimental psychology and a PhD in clinical psychology. He also wrote the book When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep alongside co-author Robert Stickgold. Together they detail a new theory on why we dream and call it the NEXTUP model. Antonio’s focus is on the scientific study of dreams, including everyday dreams, nightmares, lucid dreams, sleep terrors, and sleepwalking. Together with his students and collaborators, Antonio has published over one hundred research articles and collected thousands of firsthand dream reports. 

Antonio is committed to balance – balance between a sense of presence and an ability to plan for the future and balance between soaking all he can out of life’s moments without becoming too caught up in things either good or bad.  As a college student, a dream turned him to psychology, which led him to fulfill his ultimate aim of studying dreams and becoming, as he styles it, an oneironaut.  Through his many roles as a professor, author and speaker, Antonio has approached dreams with both scientific rigor and childlike curiosity. He grounds himself in objective study while losing himself in explorations of the mysterious worlds our sleeping selves create.

If you’re interested in understanding yourself, the world, life on a deeper level, if you’re intrigued by dreams – what they are, where they come from, how we use them, why they even happen, then you’ll like today’s guest.

“Dreams are really any kind of subjective experience we have while asleep.”

 – Dr. Antonio Zadra


Show Notes

This week on The School for Good Living Podcast:

  • What is an oneironaut?
  • How Dr. Zadra became a student of dreams
  • How frustration with misconceptions about dreams eventually produced a book
  • How the idea for When Brains Dream expanded and came to include a new theory
  • What this new theory behind dreaming entails
  • Dreaming is not equivalent to REM sleep
  • How Dr. Zadra defines a dream and thinks about different valuations of dreams
  • Why “Dreaming is Like Taking LSD” and what the Grateful Dead have to do with telepathy
  • How to (not) explain the dreams of Mendeleev and a woman who won the lottery
  • The science of the brain at play in some seemingly miraculous dreams
  • How dreaming, neural integration, monitoring, and evolution interrelate
  • How the scientific and academic communities are responding to this new theory
  • Why Dr. Zadra is fascinated by dream characters
  • Whether anyone can learn how to navigate lucid dreams with proficiency
  • How dreams shape Dr. Zadra’s worldview
  • Thoughts on headlamps, smoking, igloos, listening, patience, and not wasting money
  • Why Dr. Zadra has mixed feelings on whether or not to call himself a writer
  • Why he considers fiction writing very enjoyable but harder than scientific writing
  • The value of enjoying the journey rather than fixating on the endpoint
  • How marketing and promotion are difficult and in many ways out of our hands
  • The value of coherence and enjoyment in a work of fiction
  • Final thoughts on sleep, paying attention to dreams and the appreciation of books

Watch the interview on YouTube.
Listen on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Spotify!
Visit the Antonio Zadra guest page right here on goodliving.com!

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