- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (August 5, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393345866
- ISBN-13: 978-0393345865
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 135 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Featured medical guides
Featured Incredibly Easy! series medical guides by Lippincott. See more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Forget about outer space and deep-ocean trenches. There are scientific mysteries far closer to home. In our bedrooms each night, something odd happens--we try to fall asleep. No one knows exactly why. What happens if we don't sleep? Do men sleep differently than women? Why is it so hard to put children to sleep? And if Freud was wrong about dreams, then why do we dream? In Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, David K. Randall answers these questions and more. He takes us through the history of human thinking about sleep, all the way up to the latest rest techniques used by Olympic athletes. You'll sleep better having read this book. --Benjamin Moebius --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“A lively overview of recent research into sleep.”
- Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air
“A thoroughly enjoyable overview of a familiar yet remarkably foreign terrain.”
- Abigail Zuger, MD, New York Times
“The most diverting and consistently fascinating book on the topic ever... but you couldn’t find a more charming guide to what we do know than Dreamland.”
- Laura Miller, Salon.com
“A page-turner for the science-minded.”
- Susannah Cahalan, New York Post
“'Small science' at its best, illuminating aspects of human biology and behavior that have powerful repercussions in our private and social lives.”
- Carol Tavris, Wall Street Journal
“Randall’s wit and curiosity make him a comforting guide.”
- Boston Globe
“An accessible and well-researched guide to a fascinating subject.”
- New Scientist
“This fabulous book is likely to address any and all questions you might have about sleep.... There’s plenty of practical information, like how to overcome insomnia without drugs, how to combat snoring, how to encourage young children to get to sleep and, perhaps most useful, how to bet successfully on professional football games: our circadian rhythms favor West Coast teams over East Coast teams on Monday nights. This is one book that will not put you to sleep.”
- Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Randall emphasizes the too-often neglected common-sense realization that sleep is no void; rather, it is perhaps one-third of the puzzle to living well. The author also notes that sleep is not an undifferentiated continuum; the most restful sleep arrives in five stages of about 90 minutes each. A welcome study of an element of life that is often 'forgotten, overlooked, and postponed.'”
- Kirkus Reviews
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
The book can generally be divided into two parts: the ludicrousness of ignoring sleep's importance, and sleep taken so seriously it has become big business. While the reader is provided information that may be of help in understanding any sleep related problem he or she suffers from, this is not the purpose of the book. Instead, the book is a very enthusiastic ramble (pilgrimage?) through the various facets of sleep, a subject rarely studied until recently. "This is not your typical advice book filled with ten easy steps to perfect sleep. But you will come away with a new understanding of all that goes on in your body while you are sleeping and what happens when you neglect sleep for too long."
Each chapter follows a similar arc. Following a catchy chapter heading like Between the Sheets is a stock photo somewhat related to the chapter, in this case a picture of two sets of feet...between the sheets. Definite points off for these inexcusably lame photos that add absolutely nothing to the book. After the photo we are given a vignette, usually of a person, with a dilemma or quest. For example, how a professional baseball trainer decides that sleep deprivation is a problem for his pitchers and what he can do about it (naps!). This personal interest component then leads to the subject matter of the chapter. Between the Sheets, for example, primarily examines whether people sleep better alone or with a partner. We are then given interesting factoids on the subject and too many tangents that feel like the publisher told him the book wasn't long enough and he needed to puff it out another 100 pages.
Despite these drawbacks, I recommend this book to anyone interested in, but clueless about, the science and business of sleep. If you are interested in the psychoanalytic aspects of sleep, and particularly dreams, this is definitely not the book for you. Stringing together research and comments by various scientists he thoroughly debunks Freudian ideas on the subject. A typical quote: "None of Freud's claims are true by any of our standards today." I have no idea whether this is entirely justified, just passing on what I read.
I certainly wouldn't want my review to keep you from reading the book, but for those with only a minor interest in the subject, here are my favorite sleep factoids from the book (and all are direct quotes):
- Depression rates were forty times higher for patients with insomnia than those without sleep problems.
- If sleep doesn't serve an absolutely vital function, it is the greatest mistake evolution ever made. That function is still a mystery.
- Sleep is made up of five distinct stages that the body cycles through over roughly ninety-minute periods.
- Before the discovery of rapid eye movements, our understanding of sleep hadn't undergone any dramatic revisions in more than two thousand years.
- By 2011 there were over seventy-five recognized sleep disorders, and the number continues to grow.
- Adult bodies are not built to sleep past noon.
- Architects and construction companies surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders predict that by 2016 more than half of all new custom-built homes in the United States will have separate master bedrooms.
- About one in fifteen parents [in the U.S.] admitted to sharing a bed with their child in a study published in 1993. By 2007, the number had grown to about one in three.
- Those who have lost their sight after they were toddlers continue to dream with images, for instance, while those who were blind from birth dream with sounds.
- If you can't get in a full night's sleep, you can still improve the ability of your brain to synthesize new information by taking a nap.
- In the Gulf War, one of every four American combat deaths was a result of fire from U.S. forces. [sleep deprivation being a major contributing cause]
- Almost all cases of sleep crime involve men.
- Somewhere inside the cells of most living things is what amounts to a fairly accurate twenty-four-hour clock, known as the circadian rhythm.
- Sleep, for instance, is the time when the body sends growth hormones to repair damaged muscles.
- Studies of teenagers around the globe have found that adolescent brains do not start releasing melatonin until around eleven o'clock at night and keep pumping out the hormone well past sunrise. Adults, meanwhile, have little-to-no melatonin in their bodies when they wake up.
- Sleep apnea was the cause of thirty-eight thousand fatal heart attacks and strokes in the United States each year.
- A study in 1994 found that about 10 percent of women, and 25 percent of men, have difficulties breathing in their sleep. These numbers climb as a person gets older, so that as many as one out of three elderly men have at least a mild case of sleep apnea. All told, about twenty million Americans have the disorder.
- Two of every five adults in the United States have problems falling and staying asleep that aren't related to a persistent sleep disorder.
- By 2010, about one in every four adults in the United States had a prescription sleeping pill in their medicine cabinets. But here's the twist. A number of studies have shown that drugs like Ambien and Lunesta offer no significant improvement in the quality of sleep that a person gets. They give only a tiny bit more in the quantity department, too.
- The best predictor of quality sleep was maintaining a room temperature in a narrow band between 60 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit.
This does not pretend to be a journal entry, but is nevertheless filled with worthwhile evidence and full notes which back up his explanation of why the brain does what it does while the rest of the body is resting.
This is fairly easy to read, and worthwhile to anyone interested in how their brain works and why they have the goofy, spooky, and unexplainable dreams they have.
It also lays to rest the old wive's tales of premonition, fortune telling. etc. most of us have heard. (Not to say you won't still wonder what the hell THAT was about when you wake up!)
In the first part of the book, we learn about the basics of REM sleep and the 5-stage sleep cycle. Randall enlightens us on the benefits of sleep, such as improved decision-making and emotional control, and the harmful effects of sleep deprivation, including extreme cases such as Fatal Familial Insomnia. Then the book continues by explaining the meaning of dreams and how dreaming plays an important role in many of sleep’s benefits. This made Freud’s theory that dreams are actually a manifestation of subconscious wish fulfillment seem far less likely to be correct.
The second part of the book talked about natural sleeping patterns, circadian rhythm, and the application of sleep science to military and sports operations. We learn that our natural sleeping pattern is set by our circadian clock and how our many routines in the modern world run somewhat against this natural pattern. This, in turn, has negative effects on our sleep and waking lives. Many organizations are realizing this, and applied the scientific discoveries of sleep to ensure that their members/employees are better rested. For instance, many high schools are starting later; and sports teams now hire trainers to ensure that their players are getting enough sleep. The military allows soldiers more sleep during peacetime and also monitors sleep during combat. We also learn about the difficulties of putting children to bed, and the controversy behind the practice of co-sleeping. Randall explains that it’s been customary for an infant growing up in the West to sleep in a crib in a separate room from his or her parents. But now many parents refer to co-sleeping arrangements by having their infants in the same sleep area as their parents. This brings more ease and convenience to the parents and benefits the infant since parents can be more responsive. At the same time, the tradition of sleeping in the same bed as your partner is taking a hit, as more and more studies show partners who sleep in separate beds gain more sleep time.
Lastly, the book writes about sleeping disorders and remedies. One of the disorders explored in the book is sleep apnea, which is continual waking due to blockage of the wind-pipe. We also learn of the billion-dollar business behind treating and controlling sleep apnea. Randall then discusses sleepwalking and the phenomenon of crimes committed while sleepwalking. One bizarre case mentioned is about a man named Ken Parks who fell asleep one night and then proceeded to get out of bed, drive his car 14 miles to his in-law’s house, walk inside, kill his mother-in-law, and attempt to kill his father-in-law. One could not know for certain if Parks did in fact sleepwalk while doing all this, but all of the evidence suggested that he did in fact perform these acts while sleepwalking. Aside from the fact that Parks is a confirmed sleepwalker, he got along very well with his in-laws. What’s more compelling is that Parks injured himself badly at some point during the night of his crime. He showed no signs of pain until he came to the police station. This is consistent with the fact that our pain receptors are inactive during deep sleep. Park’s alibi was so compelling that the jury found Parks not guilty of murder. The fact is, that abusing this alibi results in courts treating sleepwalking such that there must be a substantial amount of evidence in its favor, ever since Park’s case. Randall then talks about the history of sleeping pills and the latest techniques in battling sleeplessness, including cognitive behavioral therapy. We also learn that there are several ways to improve our sleep by means other than pills or therapy. Randall suggests avoiding coffee, alcohol or bright light before bed. Practicing some breathing techniques is also a way to help us fall asleep.
After completing the book I felt as though Randall did an excellent job at providing extensive topics on the science of sleep. I appreciated how Randall incorporated many studies to back up his conclusions on the topics addressed in the book. This made his book more credible. I believe this book is a relatively easy read for anyone interested in sleep. Whether you’re a scientist researcher or someone looking for a good night’s sleep, this book is for you. Of the topics discussed in the book, I enjoyed Randall’s talk about artificial light and it’s affect on our sleeping patterns. Before the invention of the incandescent light bulb, people normally went to sleep right after sun down. One of Edison’s quirks as stated by the book, was his belief that people didn’t need more than 3-4 hours of sleep, though he snoozed off at the office constantly. The only flaw to this book is the fact that Randall failed to go into depth about exact receptors and mechanisms involved in sleep. Maybe if he were more specific about sleep on a molecular level the book would achieve higher academic merit. Overall, I’ve had nothing but a positive experience when reading the book. If anything, I gained a more relaxing approach to my sleep.