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Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,723 Ratings  ·  404 Reviews
An engrossing examination of the science behind the little-known world of sleep.

Like many of us, journalist David K. Randall never gave sleep much thought. That is, until he began sleepwalking. One midnight crash into a hallway wall sent him on an investigation into the strange science of sleep.

In Dreamland, Randall explores the research that is investigating those dark ho
Hardcover, 290 pages
Published August 13th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published August 6th 2012)
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Riku Sayuj

Wishing Yourself A Good Night

What do you do when you really don’t have much to tell on a subject, especially when you care a lot about it? You tell anecdotes and try to keep it interesting. Most neuroscience books these days tend to be packed with anecdotes that are weird, but on which there is no scientific consensus. The reader is left to his/her own devices on what to make of all the stories. This book is not much different. It starts with an admission that we know next to nothing about sleep
Nandakishore Varma
Jul 10, 2016 Nandakishore Varma rated it liked it
Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.

- Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 2

To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.

- Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1

The Bard has said it all.


Of late, I am having bouts of anxie
Aug 05, 2016 Melora rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-ish
I enjoyed this. It gets a little repetitive, though it's not all that long, but for the most part it kept my interest.

Randall decides to research “sleep” after he walks into a wall, hard, during a sleepwalking incident and, after a night in a sleep lab, is told by his doctor,
”'I'm going to be honest with you. There's a lot that we know about sleep, but there's a lot we don't know. If the sleepwalking continues, let's try some sedatives. But I don't want you to start taking drugs that you don't
Jun 04, 2014 Sergei_kalinin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health, psychology
Очень хорошая научно-популярная книга о сне! Пожалуй, главной задачей автора было - собрать под одной обложкой самые интересные и неожиданные факты о природе сна, снабдив их самыми современными научными комментариями (хотя в книге есть и физиологические "азы" про сон, вроде описания фаз сна и проч.). Задачу эту он решил практически на "отлично" :)

Книга читается на одном дыхании, и я себя постоянно ловил на том, что непроизвольно начинаю пересказывать окружающим только что узнанные мною занимате
Sep 05, 2012 Orsolya rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, the-brain
Sleep. It is something that children fight against seemingly viewing it as a punishment; while adults wish they had more of the sweet reward. Just how much do scientists truly know about sleep? Honestly: not much. However, David K. Randall shares some of the unique data surrounding the world of sleep in “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep”.

“Dreamland” is an instant thought-provoking work as it presents theories and questions surrounding the act of sleeping (for example: we may
Atila Iamarino
Mar 06, 2016 Atila Iamarino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mente, sono, cerebro
Achei que fosse ler mais sobre sonhos e como/porque sonhamos, mas encontrei um livro sobre como e porque dormimos. Muito legal de qualquer forma. Discute o sono em duas metades que tínhamos até bem pouco tempo atrás e vários outros hábitos em relação ao sono e ao dormir que estão mudando. Também descobri que mulheres em geral tem o sono mais leve e mais perturbado pelo marido do que o inverso.
Melissa Prange
Aug 12, 2012 Melissa Prange rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I wanted to like this book, but I ended up finding it incredibly boring. At times, there was interesting information (like the bit about first and second sleep), but too many of the stories felt like repeats. On and on, the author shows how sleep is important. And I wanted to say: Yes, I understand that, but is there anything else you have to say?
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
I get insomnia a lot. So this book was interesting and insightful. I learned a bit and know understand different sleep disorders. A good book.
Aaron Thibeault
Dec 01, 2012 Aaron Thibeault rated it it was amazing
*A full executive summary of this book is now available here:

We spend up to a third of our lives sleeping, and yet, unless we are not getting enough of it, and/or are experiencing a sleeping disorder of some kind, most of us hardly ever give our sleep a second thought (other than to rue over how much precious time it takes up). Science too largely neglected sleep for the longest time, treating it mainly as a static condition during which the brain was not
Sep 07, 2012 Caren rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
This was a moderately interesting look at current research into sleep. There were a few things I hadn't read before, such as that the type of mattress you choose doesn't affect the quality of your sleep; you sleep best on the sort of mattress most familiar to you. I had already known that light affects your Circadian rhythm. While it is helpful to be exposed to natural light in the morning, shun blue screen light (TV, laptop, cell phone) at least an hour before bed. In fact, it is best to have s ...more
Emily Mishler
Oct 19, 2012 Emily Mishler rated it really liked it
I won a copy of this book in a goodreads giveaway.

Randall does an excellent job in keeping his book well grounded in research while also keeping in mind that sleep is still a very new and therefore uncertain science. The book is a summary of much of what is currently known and has been theorized about sleep and how it affects the mind and body. A surprisingly engaging read and very easy to understand as Randall writes in a style that accommodates the layman. While a lot of the information is fai
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Reviews:

I've always been fascinated with the brain and sleep so when I saw this book, I snapped it up. Unfortunately, I found most of the information dry or stuff I already knew, and what I was really interested in - the brain and dreams - was a small chunk, squeezed next to soldiers and athletes' sleeping patterns. You know, two areas I didn't really give an origami fish about.

For someone looking for the sleep basics, this is a great book. Nice research, covers all the bases with good wr
Aug 15, 2012 Robyn rated it it was amazing
I can't stop sharing all the info I learned from this book!
Mar 11, 2013 Zahir rated it liked it
David Randall takes us into the mysterious and fascinating world of sleep. He takes us through a journey that starts with his personal account of waking up after hitting his leg while sleepwalking, into some of the biology that occurs when we go to sleep, and what effect that sleep and rest has on our ability to function. What Randall does exceptionally well is he writes for the layman, and does not lose a non-scientific reader like myself by including too many scientific details or explanations ...more
Aug 28, 2012 Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: neuroscience

if this book were a college course, its title would be something like Intro to Sleep Science. The author gives a brief overview of the current state of knowledge about various aspects of sleep with references for those who might want to pursue a given topic more in depth. Dreamland contains lots interesting tidbits about the relationship between sleep and SAT scores, sleep and baseball performance, dreams, and, sadly for mattress manufacturers but good for your wallet, the lack of relationship
Sep 14, 2015 Book rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall

“Dreamland" is a fun journey through the little known world of sleep. Senior reporter and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University, David K. Randall relays a series of stories, and recent research that will help readers gain a better understanding and appreciation for the impact of sleep. This interesting popular-science 291-page book includes the following thirteen chapters: 1. I Know What You Did Last Night,
Mar 09, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I once saw a sleep specialist because I was having trouble falling asleep at night. At one point during the visit I asked him, "But why is this happening?" He looked at me and said, and I quote, "I don't know. Sleep is weird, man."

In Dreamland, David K. Randall sets out to explore just how little we know about sleep and how very weird it is. We don't, for example, know why we sleep in the first place! But we do know that if you don't get sleep eventually it can in fact kill you. So it is pretty
Oct 12, 2014 Chy rated it liked it
Totally an assignment/research book. I needed a refresher on sleep and dreams, on account of a character who meddles with people's dreams. And this turned out to be just what I needed. Though, to be fair, probably a lot of books on the subject, as well as an internet search, could have been just what I needed. It was just there in the library, and I prefer to have my research in my hands rather than at the click of a mouse.

This had a lot of cool facts in it, like the case of the guy who allegedl
Aug 25, 2015 Juliej rated it liked it
This a light read for the layman. There are a few interesting facts, but not really many answers to the issues that may have prompted the reader to pick up this book.

I understand that is largely because, as the author says, we don't know a lot about sleep. But he has chosen to write a book about it, so I think he could have found a bit more to say.

I myself was interested by the question he raised of culpability for a crime committed while sleep-walking, and I actually think he could have spent m
I was hesitant to read a book like this. I was afraid that it was going to be a, pun fully intended and proud of it, snoozefest. Thank goodness, it was not! I'm not sure what I could have gotten through nearly 300 pages about sleep. David K. Randall's Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep is, well, about sleep. Specifically, about the biology of why humans sleep, what the levels of sleep are, sleep disorders, and everything else in between.

Randall explains the reason for even und
Apr 24, 2014 Meadow rated it really liked it
I read this book while in the midst of a severe sleep deprivation time due to a colicky baby who would not sleep more than 2 hours at a time day or night! I was fascinated by anything scientific that might help me understand sleep, and the consequences of lacking it. This book was a great read, as it introduced me to quite a few studies on sleep I had never heard of. From this book I went on to enjoy the true story movie "Sleepwalk with Me", and also a few TED talks about sleep. It's fascinating ...more
Jul 04, 2013 Deb rated it it was amazing
**A wake-up call to the power of sleep**

It seems that as our lives get busier, the first thing to be sacrificed is sleep. Sure, that tradeoff may give us more hours for the doing, but it also takes quite the toll on our quality of lives. As the author explains:

“Health, sex, relationships, creativity, memories—all of these things that make us who we are depend on the hours we spend each night with our heads on the pillow. By ignoring something that every animal requires, we are left turning to pi
Jan 19, 2013 astried rated it liked it
You know how with those most important thing in life you take it for granted until it's gone? That's how I used to think about sleeping, which is not thinking about it at all. Back then I'd sleep early or late, wake up whenever I have to without a thought. Then, (ah.. the unavoidable significant moment) I had my life turned upside down. Then I started to notice that sleep ceased to be an enjoyable activity. I'd be lying dead tired but not only I couldn't fall asleep, I also have a suspicion that ...more
Jun 22, 2013 Ann rated it liked it
Shelves: science-medicine
This non-fiction book meanders through the various aspects of sleep and dreaming. It never gets very technical and the author barely skims the surface of this fascinating subject. We hear about how the marital bed may be bad for a good night’s sleep, how babies around the world sleep, how sleep deprivation is responsible for all sorts of bad things, including deaths of American service personnel by friendly fire, about devices develped to monitor one’s sleep etc. None of it is very detailed. Her ...more
Oct 11, 2012 Virginia rated it really liked it
I wish there were footnotes instead of endnotes for this book. (Actually, I wish that about all books. Footnotes are awesome.) I felt like this was a good overview of the current research about sleep medicine, but it did not really get into next steps, or future solutions. The writing style was great, though, very easy to read.

I wish more people (and by people I mean corporations) took sleeping more seriously. Especially since it can affect so many areas of health. I really hate the macho Ameri
Heather Pagano
Jul 15, 2013 Heather Pagano rated it liked it
Shelves: cognition, science
I wanted Randall to say something beyond: sleep is super important. But the message he wanted to give was just that, nothing more, and he said it fairly well. This book was very basic introduction and intended to do little more than develop an appreciation for the role sleep plays in our lives as individuals and in our society. There were some interesting facts and anecdotes, the tone of the book was very personable. The rigor of some of the studies he mentioned seemed a little dubious to me, an ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Charles rated it liked it
I would rewrite the subtitle as "fun historical facts about sleep research." To be fair, "adventures in the strange science of sleep" doesn't promise much and the author acknowledges the infancy of the field, but I had hoped for a better understanding of what happens (or fails to happen) as we lay in bed with the lights out. The penultimate chapter delivers some of the goods, however, and I wouldn't say it was an unpleasant read despite the canned 'lets make this fun' tone that pervades so much ...more
There's a pretty great dude who works for our department while he's finishing his degree. I could tell you why he's pretty great, but this is a review of a book and you know I never go off on personal tangents*. But on the Twitters, he mentions his brother's book got a mention on Brain Pickings, a fantastic website that so overflows with amazing stuff that I never, ever read it**.

I am the mother of a ten month old baby, and so the subject of the book was of great interest to me. Namely, sleep. I
Andre Habet
Jun 02, 2016 Andre Habet rated it it was ok
dug learning about sleep, but the prose in this book is very boring. listen to the radiolab episode on sleep instead, which uses a lot of the more interesting ideas from this book in a much more enjoyable form.
Mar 03, 2016 Kayris rated it it was amazing
When I was a kid, I spent the night at a friends house and in the morning, her mom asked me if I had found my glasses. When I looked at her blankly, she said she had seen walking around the living room late that night and assumed I was looking for my glasses. I had no memory of being out of bed, leading me to believe that I had been sleep walking.

The daughter of a friend once got out of bed, put on her shoes, walked down the steps and out the front door at midnight, while asleep. She was halfwa
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Strange 2012 Science 1 18 Nov 07, 2012 08:22AM  
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David K. Randall is a senior reporter at Reuters and has also written for Forbes, the New York Times, and New York magazine. He is an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
More about David K. Randall...

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“If we spend little time in REM sleep one night, our brain will compensate by prolonging that stage of sleep the next night. It doesn’t take a huge leap to assume that the brain considers this time important.” 2 likes
“Touches of creative genius are simply exaggerated versions of what happens when our brains remove the clutter every night. With only important information left, the mind may then be free to make associations that it couldn’t see before.” 2 likes
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