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The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest (MacSci) [Kindle Edition]

Penelope A. Lewis
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Macmillan
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Book Description

In recent years neuroscientists have uncovered the countless ways our brain trips us up in day-to-day life, from its propensity toward irrational thought to how our intuitions deceive us. The latest research on sleep, however, points in the opposite direction. Where old wives tales have long advised to "sleep on a problem," today scientists are discovering the truth behind these folk sayings,and how the busy brain radically improves our minds through sleep and dreams. In The Secret World of Sleep, neuroscientist Penny Lewis explores the latest research intothe nighttime brain to understand the real benefits of sleep. She shows how, while our body rests, the brain practices tasks it learned during the day, replays traumatic events to mollify them, and forges connections between distant concepts. By understanding the roles that the nocturnal brain plays in our waking life, we can improve the relationship between the two, and even boost creativity and become smarter. This is a fascinating exploration of one of the most surprising corners of neuroscience that shows how science may be able to harness the power of sleep to improve learning, health, and more.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Most of us have some vague impression of the scientific explanations for sleep—resting, reorganizing our thoughts, etc.—but probably no real idea of why or how these things work; luckily Lewis is able to fill in the gaps in her concise and accessible book. As director of Sleep and Memory Lab at the University of Manchester, she is an authority in field and presents her research in an easy-to-read manner. The book starts with the basics: what is sleep? Lewis offers a working "loose definition," is that it's "an inactive time during which an organism responds less than usual when poked or disturbed, but from which it can be roused if danger threatens." From there she explores several possible "reasons" for sleep, including the way the sleeping brain bolsters our ability to remember things (like someone's name, or the way to a friend's house) by something called "memory rehearsal," a reenactment of the information at the "neural level." Lewis also confirms a truth we may have known intuitively, if perhaps had yet to see confirmed by scientific study: "sleep-deprived people are more easily frustrated, intolerant, unforgiving, uncaring, and self-absorbed than they would be if they were properly rested." (Sept.)


“There is much to fascinate in this nippy primer on the biology and behaviour associated with snoozing…from the latest on narcolepsy to the sleep-inhibiting qualities of smoked meat, this is wide-awake science” —Nature

Product Details

  • File Size: 1468 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0230107591
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade; 1 edition (August 27, 2013)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00E2PZTG4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,975 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just completed this book and read some of the disappointed reviews others have posted about it. This book may be disappointing to some who have previously done serious research on sleep. And there may be many such people frantically driven to do so to solve their personal sleep problems.

I have a different perspective on the book, which makes Penelope Lewis' first book an important contribution as scientists learn more about sleep and this knowledge filters down to those many people with sleep deprivation. I had originally read and reviewed David Randall's "Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep" as research when interviewing for a training manager job at a mattress retailer. I wanted to learn what I could about why people struggle with insomnia, aches and pains, sleep apnea and assorted sleep problems. Randall is a journalist and professional writer, and his book was a good read.

I got that job and for the last year have been exposed to many mattress customers in-person and through their survey feedback after purchasing from us. There is clearly ... clearly a general and intense lack of knowledge about sleep. Customers think they're looking for a magic mattress that will solve all their sleep problems. For many people, there is a great need out there for books like Randall's and now Lewis' "The Secret World of Sleep." Ironically, I had spent the three days leading up to Lewis' NPR interview listening to a sleep doctor we brought in to educate our sales force on why consumers struggle with sleep and the lack of support. Many of the points Terry Gross and Lewis were discussing in that interview were in line with what our sleep doctor had discussed, and so I was excited to get and read the book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleep On It August 30, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Why do we sleep? What do our brains actually do when we sleep? How do our memories shape our dreams? Why do we so easily forget our dreams upon waking? Are our emotions, both positive and negative, influenced by sleep? How can we get the most out of our sleep? These are the types of questions asked and answered in Penelope A. Lewis's The Secret World of Sleep, where she provides a lively and worthwhile look at the mysteries of sleep and the human brain.

In the book Lewis reviews current research in the field of neuroscience with an engaging voice. In many ways she reminds me of some of my favorite science professors who with humor could enliven a dry subject. Throughout she salts and peppers with ironic spice. For instance, when citing the ability of the brain to spring clean during sleep, she remarks, "Sure, you may have saved every yogurt container and rubber band that ever came your way, but excessive clutter almost always means it will be harder to find the things you really want when you want them. This general principle is equally true for the brain." This use of analogy helps the reader understand the more technical aspects of research she examines. Unfortunately Lewis can often take the professorial persona too far. I found the neuroscience jargon overwhelming at times. In addition she unnecessarily adds review summaries at the end of each chapter, making me feel as though I should be taking notes for the exam next week!

However despite these minor flaws, I found the research she reviews and her speculations concerning the research thoroughly documented and absolutely fascinating. For example, did you know that your mother's advice to "sleep on" tough decisions is good advice? We can indeed make more intelligent and perceptive decisions after a good night's sleep.
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37 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Someday, someone will write a great book about sleep and memory. This is not it. If this book represented the best information about the science of sleep, sleep research would be in dismal disarray.

I pre-ordered this book based on someone telling me about the author's interview on NPR Fresh Air's Terry Gross interview. Perhaps if I were not a medical professional, or had listened to the interview myself (it is still available as a podcast), my expectations would have been lower, but I was under the impression that it would reveal some dramatic new facts about sleep and memory in a clear and concise way. Perhaps my expectations were too high because I am currently reading Frank Wilczek & Betsy Devine's amazingly well written Longing for the Harmonies: Themes and Variations from Modern Physics, the epitome of style and scientific content. However, even discounting for perhaps unrealistic expectations, "The Secret World of Sleep" was a huge disappointment and the first time I actually considered investigating's new book return policy.

According to the paper book cover, the author's sole qualifications are that Ms. Lewis is a "neuroscientist" and "runs" the Sleep and Memory lab at the University of Manchester. While writing this review, I did a quick google and the only biographical information I could find is from the publisher's website which gives no more information than the book cover.

The content is disjointed. By page 8 we are knee deep in EEG wave forms and sleep stages, yet the author only much later decides that it is necessary to tell us about brain nerve cell anatomy and function (p. 25+) which cause these waves.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars OK book
OK book---expected more
Published 2 months ago by Tammy R
4.0 out of 5 stars "To sleep, perchance to dream" (WS)
Enjoyed the "science lite"; a lot of intriguing aspects on the mechanics of sleep. I especially enjoyed the last chapter, with the experiments on auditory and olfactory... Read more
Published 5 months ago by P. Street
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine, but not great; occasionally amateurish or pointlessly technical
This book is a tolerably well written book which swings between a kind of familiar conversational tone then academic, then conversational again. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Nathan B
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Book was in perfect condition
Published 5 months ago by Jessica Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend it.
This book woke me up to the importance of sleep, in so many ways. Highly recommend it.
Published 7 months ago by Ian Stones
4.0 out of 5 stars Uncover the shhh’s of zzz’s.
What is actually going on during the third of our lives we spend sleeping?

Penelope Lewis pulls the covers on this secret world of sleep:
“Sleep is absolutely... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Deb
2.0 out of 5 stars Podcast
Happily i heard the podcast BSP. there she did not seem very convincing in her arguments. There were many "I don't know, probably, maybe, I am not sure, etc". Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay
I think the topic of sleep is fascinating. This book was okay but didn't go deep enough to address my real questions.
Published 13 months ago by K. Larsen
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
After hearing Lewis's Fresh Air interview, I was really excited to buy this book! I have had sleep issues throughout my life, and I had just written a research paper on Delayed... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Marina Duvall
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
What a wake up call. A must read for anyone in a hard charging job and feeling the stress of performance
Published 14 months ago by Gibson Smith
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