Two Whats!? And a Wow! – Sleep On It

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Guy Raz is making a schedule for the perfect slumber, and while Mindy might find his color-coded snoozing chart unusual, it’s not half as unusual as the sleeping habits of some animals. On this round of Two Whats?! & A Wow, we challenge you to separate the fact from fiction on the science of animal sleeping behaviors!

Let’s see. Hmm. Oh, I’ll start with a light snooze, and that’ll leave me plenty of time for a deep sleep from 10 to 6. Yes, that’ll work.


Hey, Guy Razzie. Whoa. What are you doing over here? And where did you get that floor-to-ceiling calendar? It takes up the whole wall. And what is all that writing on it?

RAZ: Oh, hey, Mindy. I’m planning my sleep schedule.

THOMAS: You need this whole calendar to plan your sleep for the month?

RAZ: The month? Mindy, this is just for the day.

THOMAS: You mean the night.

RAZ: Well, Mindy, the perfect slumber is a much bigger operation. You have to start way before crawling into bed.

THOMAS: What? What are you talking about?

RAZ: Well, you need to think bigger than toothbrushing and bunny slippers. Look at this timeline here. It tells me when to switch from regular coffee to decaf. And see how it tapers off here? That’s sleepytime tea.

THOMAS: And what’s that little color code thing at the bottom?

RAZ: Oh, so I can coordinate my PJs to my sheets for maximum comfort.

THOMAS: Ah, I see. That would explain the weather radar you had installed.

RAZ: Of course. Nothing like organic bamboo flannel on a chilly night.

THOMAS: Wow. You are going to be the best-rested Guy Raz I know.

RAZ: I wish, but now I’m too excited to sleep.

THOMAS: Actually, that works out well for us because look what time it is. We’ve got a game show to do.

RAZ: Of course. You’re right. Turn on the white noise machine.

THOMAS: And dim the lights to a comfortable glow.

RAZ: And warm your milk in three, two, one…

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) And now for everyone’s second-favorite game show after “Scraping The Bird Parts Off Your Toast,” it’s “Two Whats?! And A Wow!”


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) With your hosts, Mindy and Guy Raz.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Two whats. Two whats? Two whats. Two whats? Two whats. Two whats? Two whats and a wow.

THOMAS: Welcome back, wowzers. It’s time for another dreamy round of “Two Whats?! And A Wow!”

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Two whats and a wow.

RAZ: The scientific game show that separates the wows from the whats. And the category for today is sleep. Mindy, why don’t you refresh our contestants on how the game works?

THOMAS: You know it. Wowzers, we are going to present you with three scientific statements about sleep. But only one of those statements will be a true wow. The other two – just a couple of made-up whats.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) What?


RAZ: OK, let’s get started. Which of the following statements about sleep is a true scientific wow? Is it A, when dolphins sleep, their brains shut down completely?

THOMAS: Or is it, B, some birds can sleep while they fly?

RAZ: Or is it C, ducks live in groups but sleep alone?

THOMAS: When you think you know the answer, guess A, B or C before you catch some Z’s.

RAZ: We’re going to take a quick break to give you a chance to yawn and stretch. And when we come back, we’ll find out if your wow is the winning wow.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: “Two Whats?! And A Wow!” will be right back. Grown-ups, this message is for you.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: That’s it. Now back to the show.


THOMAS: OK, wowzers, let’s not sleep on these answers. It’s time to reveal the winning wow.


THOMAS: But before we do, let’s do a quick review.

RAZ: We gave you three statements about sleep and challenged you to find the one true wow. Was it A, when dolphin sleep, their brains shut down completely?

THOMAS: Or was it B, some birds sleep while they fly?

RAZ: Or was it C, ducks live in groups but sleep alone?

THOMAS: Joining us by phone with the answer to today’s question, it’s Riley (ph) from Marietta, Ga. Riley, what’s the winning wow.

RILEY: Hi, my name is Riley. And I live in Marietta, Ga. My wow is that some birds sleep while flying. Say hi to Reggie for me.


THOMAS: Winner, winner, eight hours of sleep for dinner.

RAZ: Riley, you are correct. Wowzers, if you guest would B, that some birds can sleep while they fly, you found the winning wow, too. Congratulations.

THOMAS: Bird researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology found evidence in a study on frigatebirds that some birds can sleep and fly at the same time.

RAZ: These birds fly over the ocean in search of food nonstop for weeks on end. Scientists found that they can do this without stopping to rest because of unihemispheric slow-wave sleep, or USWS.

THOMAS: In USWS, animals can sleep with only one hemisphere – or side – of their brain at a time.

RAZ: So they can literally keep one eye open to watch for threats even when they’re taking a snooze.

THOMAS: And if you went with A or C, you weren’t too far off.

RAZ: If you chose A, when dolphins sleep, their brains shut down completely, It turns out that dolphins do not shut down their entire brains to sleep. They shut down half their brain.

THOMAS: You see – dolphins need to think in order to breathe. So even when they’re tired, they can only shut down half of their brain, while the other brain works the night shift. Sound familiar?

RAZ: A-ha. Another example of unihemispheric sleep.

THOMAS: Exact-oritos. And after about two hours, the dolphin will switch sides, letting the other half of its brain catch some Z’s. It repeats the process over and over during the entire snooze, allowing the whole brain to get some rest while keeping it from drowning and out of danger.

RAZ: Now, if you chose option C, ducks live in groups but sleep alone, think about the expression getting your ducks in a row.

THOMAS: Ducks actually snooze in groups and sometimes even sleep in rows.

RAZ: The ducks at the end face away from the group, keeping an eye out for danger so that the ones on the inside can sleep safely and soundly.

THOMAS: Well, Guy Raz, why don’t you tell our winning wowzers what they’ve won?

RAZ: Well, Mindy, all of our contestants today will be taking home their very own invisible set of pigs in a blanket?

THOMAS: Yup. We’re talking about a set of three wild boars preswaddled in fleece-lined wool blankets. Snuggle up with them for a snooze or sing them your favorite lullaby.

RAZ: Wait. Are you sure it’s safe to snuggle up to wild boars?

THOMAS: Yes, of course I’m not sure it’s safe to snuggle up with wild boars, Guy Raz. But these pigs in a blanket are invisible, so the rules are there are no rules.


RAZ: I see. Well, that’s about all the time we have for today. But before we go, we have one last scientific challenge for you.

THOMAS: We call it operation Make Your Bed.

RAZ: Wowzers, we challenge you to design your dream bed.

THOMAS: Maybe it has eight mattresses. Maybe it’s made out of bread. Maybe you sleep on clouds instead of pillows.

RAZ: You can design your dream bed on paper or create a miniature model using objects you find at home.

THOMAS: Get creative with it. And share your inventions with us.

RAZ: Grown-ups, you can upload photos and videos to us at

THOMAS: And be sure to check back here on Monday for a brand new episode of WOW IN THE WORLD and on Friday for a new episode of “Two Whats?! And A Wow!”


RAZ AND THOMAS: Keep on wowing.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Two whats. Two whats? Two whats. Two whats? Two whats. Two whats? Two whats and a wow.

RAZ: “Two Whats!? And A Wow!” is produced by Mindy Thomas and me, Guy Raz.

THOMAS: Our writers team is made up of Anna Zagorski, Darnell Walker (ph) and Heba Gouda (ph).

RAZ: Jason Rabinowitz adds the wows as our audio producer. Jessica Boddy keeps our facts straight. Jacob Stein rounds out our creative team. And Meredith Halpern-Ranzer powers the wow at Tinkercast.

THOMAS: Special thanks to Anya Grundmann and the team at NPR.

RAZ: Our theme song was written and composed by The Pop Ups. For more on their three-time-Grammy-nominated, all-ages music, find them at

THOMAS: Also, “Two Whats?! And A Wow!” is now a book. Find the “Two Whats?! And A Wow! Think & Tinker Playbook” wherever books are sold. Or visit for more info.

RAZ: And if you’d like to become a member of the World Organization of Wowzers, where you can get an autographed picture of me and Mindy, an exclusive T-shirt, magnifying goggles, special activities for each episode and much more, visit to find out how.

THOMAS: And for more up-to-date news, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @wowintheworld. Our email address is

RAZ: Finally, if you’re a kid with a big wow to share, it could be used on an upcoming episode of “Two Whats?! And A Wow!” Call us at 1-888-7-WOW-WOW.

THOMAS: Thanks again for listening. Now go forth and find your wow.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: “Two Whats!? And A Wow!” is made by Tinkercast and sent to you by NPR.

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