The benefits of daydreaming – Elizabeth Cox

Enter the mind of a bored teenager to discover what happens in the brain when we daydream and find out what purpose it serves.

On a daily basis, you spend between a third and half of your waking hours daydreaming. That may sound like a huge waste of time, but scientists think it must have some purpose, or humans wouldn’t have evolved to do so much of it. So, what exactly happens in the brain while you daydream? Elizabeth Cox takes a closer look at the science of daydreaming through the mind of a teenager.

Lesson by Elizabeth Cox, directed by Biljana Labović.

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Comment (508)

  1. while listening, I started daydreaming about how much I can daydream in a morning, feeling satisfied about goals I want to achieve but I still don't have because of daydreaming, and feeling guilty about this much dreaming at open eyes… everything such a paradox

  2. Astonishingly, it is the "daydreaming" itself that makes me wonder about the requisite of TedEd in integrating the Executive and Default Network— with possible notions for sanguine practices and development—
    which in turn, are developing itself. ;))

  3. I can't stop daydreaming unless i'm sleeping then i'm just daydreaming so you could say i'm anyway dreaming as long as i can remember. Reality passes by without me realizing because of daydreaming. I'm 41 now and only recently found out that there is a name for it. It's called Maladaptive Daydreaming. First discovered by Dr. Somer ( who has a YouTube channel). MD haas a significant baad impact on my life. I don't have a career because i can't concentrate on anything. B ad grades at school because i would daydream in the class and making homework. Relations are few because i doze of to my daydreams rather than engaging conversations. MD is not an official diagnosis yet and it has come to attention of a lot of scientist who are conducting research so there is hope.

  4. Being a pre-teen, I daydream a lot. And I sometimes even do make-believe games with my friends based off of it!
    I think daydreaming while trying to go to sleep helps me relax and flow into that pseudo-sleep state.
    Not to mention, It helps give dopamine and serotonin, which, like I said, helps calm me down.

  5. I can't technically daydream because of my aphantasia but I do still occasionally think up or write out scenarios. Definitely haven't spent a third of my life so far doing this…so I literally can't imagine having the maladaptive daydreaming disorder.

  6. Dreams and lucid dreaming provide these benefits and more as well {though with lucid dreaming it takes practice and there's a big problem with misinformation}

  7. But does anyone else have a playlist on by default? I literally always have something playing in the background when I'm idle. When I wake up it's like a song automatically starts playing. It can be very frustrating. On the other hand though I generate a lot of music in my head and it's like I have a whole orchestra in my brain. I also imagine entire alternative scenarios of my life and I don't like it. Mind is wild.
    But I'm sure part of these is about not being present. I should work on that.

  8. The difficulty is when it becomes maladaptive. It became a coping mechanism to survive a difficult childhood to be able to escape to somewhere better wherever I was or whatever situation I found myself in. I come up with scenarios that I can’t turn off whether good, bad, or neither. And I can stay stuck there anywhere from a few minutes to hours at a time. I’ve gotten better at daydreaming with intention and using it in the way the video mentions, but to an extent it is also an impediment in actually mobilizing towards achieving that dream. It was mentioned briefly, and while I agree with the video as a whole, I do wish they had touched more on that nuance.

  9. I would have called that first story just thoughts. I day dream most of the time. But it’s like a movie or tv show playing and it can be or do whatever I want. The first story to me just seemed like thinking about something to do.

  10. I created many libraries in small towns in Oaxaca where young people could access digital books or resources. I am so happy that I see a little kid reading and enjoying other literature

  11. I daydreamed throughout the video, it was like this " wow, a video on day dreaming, man that's what I do all day! Ted has never failed to impress me with their choice of topics….Infact, I'm daydreaming at the very moment! Ahh it's a cycle now, I'm daydreaming about the fact that I am daydreaming!" Bam! end card of the video. Now I have to watch the whole video again. :0

  12. thank you ted ed, this video is for me! i daydream all the time, it's like the one thing i do most (which is kinda sad lol) but it has gotten me some great ideas and dream tbh.

  13. I had an intense, persistent daydream as a depressed teenager when I took ketamine as medicine, now it came true and it's exactly what I always knew it was going to be. All the struggles I had to cope with. All the dreams. Now rectified.
    Personally, I like to think God gave me those visions when I asked him why I am even alive. Trust your intuition and listen to your subconscious!

  14. I will usually watch a show or movie and then when it’s done I kind of just continue it in my head and keep the story going 😂 then I will randomly be in class or trying to sleep and just sit there thinking out all the different scenarios or things happening, glad to know I’m not crazy 😂

  15. Personally, I think daydreaming could be good, but not always. And also, I think that, because of daydreaming, much people create ideas like: what If we were dreaming?, how do we know that we are not dreaming?, maybe everything is an illusion. Maybe we live in a simulation… and things like that. If we pay more attention, and we are able to keep our mind free of thought at least some moments during the day, we will be able to see that, in fact, this is not an illusion, and we do not live in a simulation.

  16. Normal teenage daydreams: “how will I be a celebrity, or be rich”

  17. I really hated the segment between 0:29 and 1:24. The acting was embarassing and poor – the narrator is great and should just stick to narrating. It didn't add anything at all to the video; just a bit of wasted time. Such a shame because the narration, animation, and music were great as always.

  18. The purpose of life is to purify an impure, weak and restless spirits to a stable, strong and pure spirits.
    By default every spirit is impure, weak and restless.

    Every impure spirit will be passed through sufferings in 2 ways.

    1. Relationships.
    2. Fake logics.

    Every relationship is a trick to make you suffer as part of an energy purification process.
    Every logics or thoughts are a fake logics to make you suffer as part of this same energy purification process.

    Life is a game using relationships and fake logics.
    It will make you speak and act with your relationships and fake logics.

    You will die, and rebirth, multiple times in this purification process.
    Your body is a mechanism to purify your spirit.

    Whenever you are a pure, stable, and strong spirit, you will able to identify the truth by your own experience.

    Once you identify it, you will be able to detach yourself from this game of life.

    Now come follow me.

  19. I have spent my whole life daydreaming distracted by what others want and I'm sick of that it's time to live some of these dreams

  20. Good luck telling this to someone with ADHD who constantly daydreams and is at lost to understand where all the energy and time went by,,,, this video should have been more on imagination than benefits of daydreams

  21. Great video and subject. I think that daydreaming is essential for our daily mood and creativity. I love daydreaming even if sometimes I feel disconnected or that I'm losing precious time. Love the animation 👍

  22. I used to daydream in P.E., usually when doing laps. I'd think about how much easier it'd be if I had the Imnitrix from Ben 10. I could use XLR8 to finish my laps in record time, or Cannonbolt to make it more fun, or Echo to send a clone in my place and let him use XLR8 or whatever whole I use Ghostfreak to fly home.

  23. My daydreaming often takes the form of movies I play in my head and work on over a long period of time. Like, YEARS. They have adapted and evolved with me, but the foundations from when I was 10 years old are still there. Recently (beginning several months ago), I’ve taken some of the characters from my main.. uhh.. “movie” and put them into a new scenario. I’ve even started writing a (very bad) book about it.
    It’s extremely fun for me and it would interesting to know if my movie-making has any positive effects.


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