Ever been driving home from work, or making a pot of coffee only to realize you don't remember the last few minutes? Often referred to as "spacing out," these lost minutes are your brain’s version of autopilot — we're so used to doing something that we don’t actually have to make any new decisions, according to a new video from DNews.

"Doing the same thing every day, like brushing your teeth, driving to work, your brain just kind of runs on autopilot," DNews co-host Julia Wilde said. "Our brains like routines. We like familiar things, and a lot of routines wind up becoming part of that autopilot mode."

So how does the brain switch from autopilot to "on" mode? There are two main brain structures that help us make the switch, called the dorsolateral striatum and the dorsomedial striatum. When your brain is on autopilot, the dorsolateral striatum is what guides your daily routine; it's what gets you to, say, push the right button on an elevator. But in a situation that's not routine, the dorsomedial striatum is what gets you to push that elevator button.

Wilde cited a study that found these two brain structures "work in tandem when learning a new task, and turning it into a habit." But there's a third region of the brain, called the orbital frontal cortex that shifts the gears between being on "autopilot" and just being "on." Spacing or zoning out might sound like a bad thing, but it isn't. Like Wilde said, our brain likes routine. And in these "spaced out" periods, they're actually getting a much-needed break.

"When you're running on autopilot, basically your brain hates thinking and wants to do as little of it as possible to save energy," she added. "So hurry up and make things routine; your brain needs to rest."

You can watch Wilde's full explanation in the video above.