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Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,245 ratings  ·  361 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
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Hardcover, 290 pages
Published August 13th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published August 6th 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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Sergei_kalinin
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
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Caris
May 25, 2013 Caris rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Let’s talk about pop-science, baby.

Me and sleep have an interesting relationship. I’m very interested in sleep. I can’t think of many things that I enjoy more. And yet I often find myself at odds with sleep. Take right now, for instance. It is 12:40 am and I am writing a book review. I have nothing pressing to do right now, no deadlines to meet or driving whims to entertain (other than a vague desire to watch some sort of killer shark movie). Nope. In fact, I’m feeling rather bored, which is why
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Orsolya
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
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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.
Melissa Prange
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?
Aaron Thibeault
*A full executive summary of this book is now available here: http://newbooksinbrief.com/2012/08/20...

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
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Caren
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
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
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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
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Robyn
I can't stop sharing all the info I learned from this book!
Zahir
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
Anne


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
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Tom
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
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Chy
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
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Ash
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
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Meadow
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
Deb
**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
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astried
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
Ann
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
Virginia
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
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Heather Pagano
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
Jessica
A mostly fascinating study of the little understood science of sleep. Two chapters are devoted to dreams (I'd have liked more) but lots on why we need sleep, how it helps us, how it used to be (First Sleep, then Second Sleep) in the pre-Industrial Age, how we can sleep better, use it better. Will be recommending it to my sister and good friend, both of whom have trouble sleeping, and I definitely recommend it to any of you who have any interest at all in the subject. As for me, well, sleep & ...more
Charles
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
Sarah
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
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Rena Sherwood
This review originally appeared on my blog Dreaming of Peter http://dreamingofpeter.blogspot.com/2...

There aren't many books out there like David K. Randall's Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep (W.W. Norton & Company; 2012.) This is a real shame. We need fewer books detailing how angels supposedly talk to us in our dreams and how clean living leads to better sleep and more science books written for the non-scientist.

If you like the Darwin Award series, then you'll get a ki
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Amy
A terrific read. I am not 'a science person' but I learned something on every page. The best thing about this book is that it has already made it easier for me to sleep better, and longer, every day. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in general health and/or psychology, sleep and relaxation specifically, and of course anyone with a history of sleep problems. It contains a wealth of information, well-documented and clearly presented.
Kate
The author awakes in the middle of the night, in pain. He was sleepwalking and ran into something and hurt himself. His wife urges him to see what he can find out about sleepwalking, and he finds out there's not a lot known. And so this book is born.

The book is probably actually pretty short for the subject matter, yet he covers just about every topic possible about sleep. Sleepwalking, dreams, what happens when one doesn't sleep, sleep of teenagers, family beds, etc. etc.

It's written in a casua
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Harith
If you already did some previous reading (books or lengthy blog posts) on this topic (Why we sleep, how we sleep, why we dream, what happens to the body etc.), chances are that you won't learn a lot from this book.

The author recounts his experiences with sleep related experimentation and related research. This consists of tales about people with strange sleep related disorders, how it affected their lives. Through these tales you'll learn how the brain functions during sleep and how you can exer
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Martha
Not the first book I've read about sleeping, and I find it a pretty fascinating subject. This book was an easy read and included a lot of interesting facts about sleep and the brain. It really could have used a good proofreader, though. More errors than a book published by a major publisher should have. (What's with the hyphen in "several-thousand"? So wrong.)
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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.
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“Though midday naps are most closely linked with Spain and other Latin cultures, they were once popular throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. Even today, most state-owned firms in China give their workers two hours for lunch. The first is used for eating and the second, for sleeping.” 1 likes
“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.” 1 likes
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