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Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams Paperback – October 13, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Martin received a Ph.D. in behavioral biology at Cambridge University. He was a Harkness Fellow in the School of Medicine at Stanford and is the author of The Healing Mind.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312327447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312327446
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,962,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book quite literally changed my life. It changed the way I think about sleep and dreaming--it made sleep something that is a joy to do, rather than something that is simply necessary. When I wake up and ponder the dreams I just had, I contemplate what kind of dream it is, besides just the plot or possible meanings.

This book is a bit difficult for the first third--when it's talking about sleep deprivation, but it's well-worth slogging through. I think this is required reading for everyone.
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Format: Paperback
Author Bio: Paul Martin is a Cambridge University graduate with a PhD in behavioural biology. Paul has authored several books all focusing on the pleasure aspects of behaviour and life (sleep, happiness and food) and has also written about mental illness.

Summary of the Book:

Counting Sheep is a book all about sleep and its various benefits, problems and history, that definitely did not have me nodding off. Everything comes down to sleep, health, life satisfaction, learning and memory. This book will change your understanding of how you spend one third of your life.

I learned plenty about the life under the covers and in the land of Nod, Paul Martin has put together a great book with one major message to get across to us all, we need more sleep and he has the knowledge and the advice to help.

Paul Martin works hard to get his point across to the reader, but he does a great job. The book is separated into 7 parts with a total of 17 chapters. Each chapter had sub sections, each with their own valid piece of information, each accompanied with a quote that relates to the subject matter. I enjoyed the format of this book, it was broken up nicely and make for comfortable reading, I didn't once find my self confused about what PM was talking about or his overall point.

Counting Sheep is a journey through all the elements of sleep, from how humans and animals actually go to sleep, what happens if we don't get enough (which we don't), dreams and how to control them, sleep disorders, cultural sleep habits and the dangers of sleep deprivation in everyday life.
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Format: Paperback
Though seemingly a bit logically circular at times, I highly recommend "Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams." Whether chosen as a leisure read or as a baseline for a sleep researcher, "Counting Sheep:.." is scientific, easy to digest, entertaining, and relevant. Everyone sleeps and this title, like Medina's bestselling "Brain Rules," sets out a neuroscience-based argument for how to treat our brains so they perform best for us. Martin teaches us about forms, functions and special cases of sleep while citing researchers throughout history - from Aristotle to Freud. Simultaneously, he entertains us and reinforces the true respect for sleep that society should show (as opposed to the widespread, toxic deprivation society is structured on). Sell your alarm clock and buy this book.

...Why this book is interesting
As a neuroscience student, this book provides a great, scientific foundation of knowledge on all aspects of sleep. As a being who sleeps (as Martin notes, all animals do), this book is easy and enjoyable to digest and will put anyone to sleep (and that is a good thing).

...What this book will tell you, and how
This book takes us through the importance of sleep and the many terrible consequences of not getting the proper amount of sleep. Martin emphasizes how our society now caters to and most values those who spend as little of their days sleeping (and thus more time working or at 24 hour stores). "A century ago the majority toiled long hours while the affluent few idled away their time. Today, however, the more conventionally successful you are, the less free time you will probably have...according to prevailing cultural attitudes, sleeping is one of the lease productive human activities.
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Format: Paperback
This book makes convincing claims that most people give too little thought to an activity that occupies a large fraction of our life.
It has lots of little pieces of information which can be read as independent essays. Here are some claims I found interesting:
"sleepiness is responsible for far more deaths on the roads than alcohol or drugs".
Tired people rate their abilities higher than people who slept well do.
Poor sleep contributes to poor health a good deal more than medical diagnoses suggest, but hospitals are designed in ways that hinder patients' sleep.
Idle time was apparently a status symbol up to a century ago, now being busy is a status symbol. This should have economic implications that someone ought to explore in depth.
People in a vegetative state have REM sleep. This sounds like cause to re-evaluate the label we apply to that state.

While the book has many references, it doesn't connect specific claims to references, and I'm sometimes left wondering why I should believe a claim. How can boredom be a modern concept? When he says "no person has ever gone completely without sleep for more than a few days", how does he know he can dismiss people who claim to have not slept for years?
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