The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest

Overview

In recent years, neuroscientists have uncovered the countless ways our brain trips us up in day-to-day life, from its propensity toward irrational thought to how our intuitions deceive us. The latest research on sleep, however, points in the opposite direction. Where old wives tales have long advised to "sleep on a problem," today scientists are discovering the truth behind these folk sayings, and how the busy brain radically improves our minds through sleep and dreams. In The Secret World of Sleep , ...

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The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest

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Overview

In recent years, neuroscientists have uncovered the countless ways our brain trips us up in day-to-day life, from its propensity toward irrational thought to how our intuitions deceive us. The latest research on sleep, however, points in the opposite direction. Where old wives tales have long advised to "sleep on a problem," today scientists are discovering the truth behind these folk sayings, and how the busy brain radically improves our minds through sleep and dreams. In The Secret World of Sleep , neuroscientist Penny Lewis explores the latest research into the nighttime brain to understand the real benefits of sleep. She shows how, while our body rests, the brain practices tasks it learned during the day, replays traumatic events to mollify them, and forges connections between distant concepts. By understanding the roles that the nocturnal brain plays in our waking life, we can improve the relationship between the two, and even boost creativity and become smarter. This is a fascinating exploration of one of the most surprising corners of neuroscience that shows how science may be able to harness the power of sleep to improve learning, health, and more.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/19/2013
Most of us have some vague impression of the scientific explanations for sleep—resting, reorganizing our thoughts, etc.—but probably no real idea of why or how these things work; luckily Lewis is able to fill in the gaps in her concise and accessible book. As director of Sleep and Memory Lab at the University of Manchester, she is an authority in field and presents her research in an easy-to-read manner. The book starts with the basics: what is sleep? Lewis offers a working "loose definition," is that it's "an inactive time during which an organism responds less than usual when poked or disturbed, but from which it can be roused if danger threatens." From there she explores several possible "reasons" for sleep, including the way the sleeping brain bolsters our ability to remember things (like someone's name, or the way to a friend's house) by something called "memory rehearsal," a reenactment of the information at the "neural level." Lewis also confirms a truth we may have known intuitively, if perhaps had yet to see confirmed by scientific study: "sleep-deprived people are more easily frustrated, intolerant, unforgiving, uncaring, and self-absorbed than they would be if they were properly rested." (Sept.)
From the Publisher
“There is much to fascinate in this nippy primer on the biology and behaviour associated with snoozing…from the latest on narcolepsy to the sleep-inhibiting qualities of smoked meat, this is wide-awake science” —Nature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781137279477
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/11/2014
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,146,385
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Penelope A. Lewis is a neuroscientist at the University of Manchester, where she runs the Sleep and Memory Lab. She has written for a number of popular science publications, including New Scientist and was interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air." Her research has been featured on the BBC, and she's received funding from top institutes, including the Wellcome Trust and Unilever. She lives in Manchester, United Kingdom.

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