Friday, December 14, 2012

Review of "Dreamland" [96]

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep 
by David K. Randall
W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 978-0393080209
August 13, 2012, 304 pages

Am I the only person that finds sleeping really strange?
Really, think about it.

For hours every day, you intentionally go into a state where you are unconscious, unaware of what is going on around you. For part of the time, REM sleep, you are actually paralyzed. And you do this every day, for almost a third of your life.
It is such a large part of our life, yet even today, sleep remains largely a mystery, until recently, largely unstudied.

 I will admit, with my work schedule, shifting from sleeping day to nights and back again on a weekly basis, I am probably a little more interested in the whole subject of sleep that many people. Having done this for decades, I consider myself a bit of an expert. And from personal experiences I have learned a great deal about the subject. But if you read this book, I think your eyes too will be opened to just how important sleep is.

Did you know that if you stopped sleeping totally, you would die. Yes, die. Or did you know that sleeping affects every aspect of your body, how our brain works, our mood, our physical well being, down to how our cells regenerate? Anyone with children knows they sleep differently than adults, but you will find out that it may just be impossible, and totally natural, to get that teenager up early in the morning. Are you aware that men and women sleep differently..and if truth be told really would be best served if they did not actually sleep in the same bed.
"In Dreamland, Randall explores the research that is investigating those dark hours that make up nearly a third of our lives. Taking readers from military battlefields to children’s bedrooms, Dreamland shows that sleep isn't as simple as it seems. Why did the results of one sleep study change the bookmakers’ odds for certain Monday Night Football games? Do women sleep differently than men? And if you happen to kill someone while you are sleepwalking, does that count as murder?

This book is a tour of the often odd, sometimes disturbing, and always fascinating things that go on in the peculiar world of sleep. You’ll never look at your pillow the same way again."
Let's talk about that pillow, and the temperature of the room and whether our mattress makes a different in the quality of are sleep. There is a fair bit of practical information in this book that may help those who have sleep issues, from what is the best way to deal with insomnia, to is it possible to do something to get a baby to sleep through the night. But maybe the strongest part of the book is the chance to gain just a bit of very interesting knowledge about the discoveries on this very important subject, a subject that affects every single one of us. And they all are fairly recent discoveries, since the study of sleep really only took off in the 1950's with the discovery of the stages of sleep, including REM sleep.

That is maybe the most important idea that you can take away from this book, just how vital getting a good night's sleep is. It is maybe the most important thing we can do for our happiness and good health and yet is one that many of us totally ignore. In fact, many people take some pride in the idea that they don't need to sleep much..and may be doing themselves a good deal of harm in the bargain. Everything from Monday Night Football to the outcome of wars, to our health may be dependent on how well and how much we sleep.

Honestly, this could have been a very boring book. What saves it is that Mr. Randall is often a quite funny man. And he is someone who shares his own rather scary sleep issues. This guy has some skin in the game! But then, since we spend almost a third of our life asleep..or we should! is a very important subject for all of us.


  1. interesting topic ... as i sit here yawning because i wish i was still asleep

    1. then I suspect you did not get enough good

  2. It sounds like a fascinating subject and probably appreciate more as I started to have sleeping issues in the last year or so. I think the major problem is probably not having the right pillow.

  3. I am very attached to my favorite pillow.
    Cutting way back on coffee helped

  4. I'm a huge believer in getting a good nights sleep -- and I am so excited to hear that when my son gets to be a teen, he WILL sleep in. This getting up early business is for the birds!

    And I'll confess to you that Mr. Jenners and I came to the conclusion that sleeping in separate beds is critical for our well-being and restful sleep. There is no shame in that.

    I'd love to check this book out. Glad to hear this is humor in it.


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