Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams

Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams

by Paul Martin
     
 

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Does the early bird really catch the worm, or end up healthy, wealthy, and wise? Can some people really exist on just a few hours' sleep a night? Does everybody dream? Do fish dream? How did people cope before alarm clocks and caffeine? And is anybody getting enough sleep?

Even though we will devote a third of our lives to sleep, we still know remarkably

Overview

Does the early bird really catch the worm, or end up healthy, wealthy, and wise? Can some people really exist on just a few hours' sleep a night? Does everybody dream? Do fish dream? How did people cope before alarm clocks and caffeine? And is anybody getting enough sleep?

Even though we will devote a third of our lives to sleep, we still know remarkably little about its origins and purpose. Paul Martin's Counting Sheep answers these questions and more in this illuminating work of popular science. Even the wonders of yawning, the perils of sleepwalking, and the strange ubiquity of nocturnal erections are explained in full.

To sleep, to dream: Counting Sheep reflects the centrality of these activities to our lives and can help readers respect, understand, and extract more pleasure from that delicious time when they're lost to the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Scientist Martin (The Healing Mind) is on a mission to cure our "sleep-sick society" and convince us, for our own good, to start taking sleep more seriously. Pithy, wry and earthily humorous, this book is Martin's manifesto for a healthier society. He systematically critiques how our culture encourages us to skimp on sleep (usually so that we can work longer hours), and he rues the bad example of our befuddled, jet-lagged politicians. Applying scientific fact, theory and experiment, Martin demonstrates the similarity between sleeplessness and drunkenness; the links between the hours modern schoolchildren keep and ADHD; the role of sleeplessness in man-made disasters; and how sleeplessness and night shift work can contribute to serious illness. Martin highlights extreme abuses of sleep deprivation in torture and in warfare, while also celebrating sleep's creative power, telling of musicians who have woken up humming melodies and the scientists who benefited from the problem-solving qualities of deep REM sleep. When he discusses dreaming, Martin touches on the habits and beliefs of traditional societies as revealed by anthropologists, and neatly debunks Freud's interpretation of all dream imagery as sexual. A writer fully in command of his subject and his style, Martin reveals just how deeply and madly we pay for our collective indifference to the value of so simple a pleasure as a good night's sleep. Agent, Lesley Shaw at Gillon Aitken. (July 5) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An explication of sleep that not only reveals its mysteries but sings its praises. For Martin (The Healing Mind, 1998, etc.), a behavioral biologist, sleep is a form of behavior so familiar to us that we take it for granted, remaining woefully ignorant of its significance in our lives. His mission is to enlighten, to share with nonscientists what science has learned about the phenomenon, and to encourage us to value sleep and revel in its pleasures. Sleep deprivation is a sad fact of too many lives in the industrialized world, he notes, and the consequences can be alarming, especially when the sleep-deprived are making life-and-death decisions in hospitals, vehicles, or the corridors of power. Excerpts from Charles Lindbergh's account of his solo transatlantic flight show just how dangerous sleepiness can be. Martin frequently turns to literature to illustrate his points. His text is larded with apt quotes and examples from Shakespeare, Pepys, Coleridge, Dickens, and a host of others. After a thorough examination of sleep deprivation and its hazards, he considers and explains the mechanisms of sleep, the various factors that promote or prevent sleep, and the nature of dreams. The latter includes a fascinating discussion of lucid, or self-aware, dreams and of how to foster them. Martin looks at various theories of the biological function of sleep, seeing as plausible the idea that the two different stages of sleep are involved in the storage and consolidation of two different kinds of memory: declarative, or "knowing that," and procedural, or "knowing how." Students pulling all-nighters before exams are advised to get a good night's sleep instead. Sleepwalking, nightmares, insomnia,snoring, apnea, and other nighttime problems also get his attention. An unexpected bonus is a capsule history of beds from the elegant royal ones of King Tutankhamen of the 14th century b.c. to Howard Hughes's mobile bed, a sleeping machine powered by 30 electric motors and equipped with hot and cold running water. A choice example of science writing that entertains as it educates. Agency: Gillon Aitken Associates
From the Publisher
British Praise for Counting Sheep:

"Energetic and immensely readable, this is as good a popular science book as I have read."

Evening Standard

"Everything you could possibly wish to know about sleep, lack of sleep, dreams, sleepwalking, nightmares, snoring, napping, and sudden sleep death syndrome. Marvellous."

Sunday Times

"A fascinating account of what happens during the dark third of our lives."

Sunday Telegraph

"Martin weaves literary references to sleep, up-to-date science, and his own philosophical musings and creates an engaging and fascinating read."

—Liz Hollis, Health & Fitness

"Wide-ranging and informed."

—Jim Horne, New Scientist

Evening Standard
"Energetic and immensely readable, this is as good a popular science book as I have read."
Sunday Times
"Everything you could possibly wish to know about sleep, lack of sleep, dreams, sleepwalking, nightmares, snoring, napping, and sudden sleep death syndrome. Marvellous."
Sunday Telegraph
"A fascinating account of what happens during the dark third of our lives."
Health & Fitness - Liz Hollis
"Martin weaves literary references to sleep, up-to-date science, and his own philosophical musings and creates an engaging and fascinating read."
New Scientist - Jim Horne
"Wide-ranging and informed."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466848146
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
07/02/2013
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
File size:
521 KB

Meet 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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