- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 24, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 019958785X
- ISBN-13: 978-0199587858
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.5 x 4.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #573,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sleep: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition
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About the Author
Steven W. Lockley is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard University. Russell G. Foster is the Head of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology at the John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford.
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Top customer reviews
1) The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest by Penelope A. Lewis
2) Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall
3) Sleep: A Very Short Introduction by Steven W. Lockley
4) The Secret Life of Sleep by Kat Duff
I was looking mainly for scientific information, in conjunction, perhaps, with interesting anecdotes. Dreamland by David Randall was the closest to what I thought I was looking for and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in sleep. The Secret World of Sleep by Penelope Lewis and Sleep: A Very Short Introduction by Lockley and Foster were a little more purely scientific. However, among these two I strongly preferred the no-nonsense style of Sleep: A Very Short Introduction. By comparison, The Secret World of Sleep felt like an academic paper that had been hastily modified by a copy-editor to read like a popular science book. The result is not-very-exciting writing that is larded with "accessible" descriptions and analogies. The amygdala is referred to at least a dozen times by the epithet "almond shaped". The first time was fine, the fifth time was patronizing. But I powered through.
I cannot recommend Kat Duff's book, because of passages that give serious credence to the explanation that hypnogogic hallucinations are in fact visitations by evil spirits. See my review there for more details.
The best thing about this book is how succinct it is. I suggest reading it along with (before or after) the David Randall book.
This particular book is about sleep. While, on average, sleep takes up one-third of a person’s life, it’s a subject that is often taken for granted. Like water, one doesn’t really think about it until one isn’t getting enough. However, as the book discusses in detail, all sorts of problems are associated with sleep deprivation, insomnia, and parasomnias (i.e. sleep events like sleepwalking, night terrors, nightmares, bedwetting, sleep-eating, and groaning.)
The book is written in nine chapters covering: the history of sleep, sleep generation and regulation, a brain on sleep, reasons we sleep, variation in sleep throughout one’s life-cycle, the nature of poor sleep, the connection between sleep and health, and the effect of our shift to a round-the-clock society.
There are a number of fascinating questions addressed by this book including:
-What does sleep do for us?
-Have people always tended to sleep eight hours per night?
-Why are some people morning people and others night owls?
-Why does one feel drowsy after lunch, but not necessarily when it’s time to hit the sack?
-How long can one go without sleep?
-Do all animals sleep?
-How do sleep and hibernation differ?
-Why do teenagers and the elderly have such odd (but different) sleep habits?
-Why do people sleepwalk, sleep-eat, groan in their sleep, or have night terrors?
-What is the effect of long-term insomnia on health?
-What happens to sleep if one has no rising and setting sun cues?
-What is jetlag and how can one fight it?
I learned some interesting facts, such as:
-On average, women report more insomnia, but, paradoxically, tend to sleep better than men.
-Pre-industrial people slept for about 10 hours a night on average, it’s believed.
-Many parasomnias occur mostly during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.
-The government can deprive prisoners of sleep for 7.5 days without it being considered torture (then they have to allow a full 8 hours sleep before another 7.5 day period started.)
-Long-term insomnia has been linked to heart-disease.
-Shift workers have a 50% greater incidence of breast and prostate cancer than day-workers.
-Visiting teams win 46% of the time if they are in their home time zone, 44% if they are traveling ‘with their body clock,’ and only 37% if they are traveling against their body clock.
I found this book interesting and informative. However, there are many books on the subjects of sleep and dreams that are more catered to a popular audience. Such books delve into intriguing cases and don’t dig as deeply into the minutiae of the science of the subject. I’d recommend this book, but not for readers who get bogged down or bored with scientific and technical discussions. If you’re looking for a book that’s loaded with pithy facts and fascinating stories, you can find a book closer to the mark by journalists who focus on science writing and who’ve got more flare for creative writing.
I have mostly been reading Czeisler's excellent Cold Spring Harbor lecture, and wanted something more detailed.
I found this book by searching for some of the major authors who pioneered sleep studies (and was also available on kindle).
In short, it is very well written, relatively up to date, and sufficient as something you can wet your feet with.
It helped me get up to speed to read more recent research, and I believe that is what this book aims for, and what many of you who have searched for appropriate books that are a bit more sophisticated than the common text book are looking for.
Most recent customer reviews
- the writing style is not pleasant, it is more laying down the facts ..Read more