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Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  308 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
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 o
Paperback, 432 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2002)
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The Ravenous Brain by Daniel BorIdiot Brain by Dean BurnettYou Are Not So Smart by David McRaneyHow the Mind Works by Steven PinkerThe Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
Explaining the Mind
34th out of 60 books — 11 voters
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3rd out of 6 books — 1 voter

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Apr 14, 2016 Stuart rated it it was amazing
Author Bio: Paul Martin is a Cambridge University graduate with a PhD in behavioural biology. Paul has authored several books all focusing on the pleasure aspects of behaviour and life (sleep, happiness and food) and has also written about mental illness.

Summary of the Book:

Counting Sheep is a book all about sleep and its various benefits, problems and history, that definitely did not have me nodding off. Everything comes down to sleep, health, life satisfaction, learning and memory. This book w
Nazim Suzaly
Mar 06, 2014 Nazim Suzaly rated it liked it
I always had my doubts about sleep on whether is it a good thing or a bad thing and how important it is to our body and just what sleep itself has to offer (okay and the fact that the book was selling at RM8 haha). Well this book by Paul covers every single topic related to sleep on how important it is, the dangers of lack of sleep, REM, nightmares, illness, sleepwalking, snoring, yawning, wet dreams, and the list goes on and on. Whatever that can be related with sleep it is in this book.

Apr 01, 2016 Doctor_dana rated it liked it
Very thorough in that it touches on every topic dealing with sleep. The coverage is odd, however; it is sometimes more like an overview of sleep in literature with some brief mentions of scientific experiments. I could have done without so many quotes from fiction, and would have appreciated more detail on the science. He summarizes the outcomes without usually mentioning the experimental methods or sample sizes. It was an easy read, though I kept finding my eyelids drooping. I don't think the a ...more
Dimitris Hall
Aug 05, 2016 Dimitris Hall rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who enjoy reading non-fiction and think sleeping is a waste of time.
Counting Sheep is one of my favourite non-fiction books. In "western" society, sleep is commonly downplayed as wasted time. Counting Sheep will probably make you change your opinion on the matter forever. It underlines the pleasures and biological functions of sleep, the stages of sleep (did you know that your night's sleep is divided into "cycles" of 90 minutes of deep and REM sleep?) as well as going in depth on the function of dreams, lucid dreaming, lying surface culture, sleep deprivation, ...more
Jul 12, 2010 Redfox5 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought this book was going to be quiet dull but I was so wrong. I found it really intresting. I now have a much better understanding of sleep and dreams. I nearly always remember my dreams, mainly becuase I get up earlyer than I need to, have a bath and then sleep for another hour before going to work. And according to this book your more likely to have REM sleep if you nap in the early morning :) My dreams are always about work and people I work with which makes me belive that dreams don't ...more
Aug 28, 2015 Ben rated it really liked it
Not one of my favourite pop science book as it didn't tell me much I didn't already know and I'd be keen to read a more recent one on the subject as the book and its sources are quite dated now and I'm sure plenty more research has been done since. That said, it had an easy to read style and kept me interested enough throughout to keep me reading daily, as well as having a positive message overall.
Feb 12, 2012 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
A good introductory book on the fascinating topic of sleep and dreams – I definitely learned a lot, and reading this book has whetted my appetite to learn even more. I liked the literary references throughout (I’m always for more integration between the sciences and arts) but they became a bit too pervasive and took over somewhat – e.g. I would have preferred a simple clear-cut explanation of sleep paralysis rather than a quote from Moby Dick. Lots of interesting little historical anecdotes scat ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Pippin rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Pippin by: Richie Paradise possibly?
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a great non-fiction book about how sleep works.
It gives an in-depth look at the latest thinking on how sleep works, with lots of interesting stories and facts along the way.
If anything I found it to be a bit dumbed-down in its' writing, but as my sleep-peprived girlfriend refused to read it, saying she's too tired to concentrate on non-fiction I guess it may be about the right level for insomniacs who aren't coping so well.
It's not just a way of learning to slepp better, though. It is a
Jul 31, 2016 Claire rated it it was amazing
Really suprised that I enjoyed this book. It was very interesting and got me talking to colleges at work about the subjects covered. It totally opens your eyes to why sleep is important and how we in society today don't rate sleeping enough.
'Just about everything you could possibly wish to know about sleep, lack of sleep, dreams, sleepwalking, nightmares, snoring, napping and sudden death syndrome....marvellous.' SUNDAY TIMES
Tracey Marion
Mar 22, 2014 Tracey Marion rated it liked it
Interesting content but not written in an engaging manner.
Jul 05, 2013 Qi rated it really liked it
Shelves: how-to-books
This book is a compilation of various topics about sleep: why, how, what does science say, what people in the literature realm have written about the many aspects of sleep. This book aimed at being comprehensive, and it does indeed serve as a good reference to topics of interest. There are many useful and colorful quotations from Shakespeare to modern notables.

What it fails is to provide engaging narratives on any topics. If its own aim is to serve as a guide for further study, then it has done
Sep 05, 2016 Mofei added it
Shelves: as
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Beth
Feb 07, 2012 Karen Beth rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating (and also scary) look at the dangers of sleep-deprivation in our society (and many, many other aspects of sleep). So far up through the first 50 pages, I can't put it down, which is strange for me with non-fiction. Did you know that dolphins can sleep with one half of their brain at a time?? That's how they can sleep without drowning! At least one half of their brain is always awake so that they can come to the surface and breathe when they need to. Amazing.
Daniel Wood
Jan 16, 2016 Daniel Wood rated it it was amazing
Entertaining and interesting throughout, this book looks at every facet of sleep, in good detail in most places. From dreaming to sleepwalking, problems to pleasures, the casual reader will learn a lot about sleep, how they sleep, and how this impacts their life (whilst also absorbing amusing anecdotes on sleepy luminaries).

If you still aren't convinced, the book ends by arguing in favour of daytime napping, something we can all enjoy.
M. Jones
Feb 05, 2011 M. Jones rated it really liked it
Very interesting book about the nature and science of sleep. It did get a bit too academic at times, but overall was highly informative and accessible. Warning--One side effect on reading this is an attuned hyper-awareness of how the body functions when drifting off to sleep. May cause insomnia as a result! :P
Paul Martin
Aug 30, 2011 Paul Martin rated it really liked it
A really interesting read from my namesake with liberal sprinklings of humour in amongst some truly awe-inspiring facts.

A great read for anyone who is interested in the psychology and chemistry of sleep and dreams or for those who love their pop-science meaty and fact-filled. Highly recommended.
Jul 22, 2008 Annabel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jane Davis, Colin Taylor
Very interesting, very entertaining....
makes you want to get some shut eye pronto
so you can dream.....recuperate.......integrate knowledge...........
..........get an amazing insight.......keep young and beautiful.....
You get the idea!
Oct 24, 2011 Johnny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is some really interesting insights in this book. However, there is also a lot of information not essential to a non-academic. My advice is to pick and choose the parts you want to learn about, if reading for recreation.
Jul 25, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Most of it is really interesting. A commprehensive account on just about everything we know or contemplate about sleep. A few parts were a bit boring, but for a non fiction intellectual book it is fun and easy.
Sarah Dale
Apr 16, 2013 Sarah Dale rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
This is the best book about sleep I have read. Entertaining, informative and readable, it highlights the importance of sleep and gives a fascinating romp through the history, culture and science about sleep. Sleep well!
Maciej Mroczek
Aug 02, 2013 Maciej Mroczek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will never think of sleep the same way again. Very interesting and informative. There were some moments where I thought there was too much detail, but ultimately I was really happy with the book.
Oct 19, 2015 Claire rated it liked it
This is a tremendously interesting book. I've rated it three stars as its taken me a very long time to read it on account of its denseness. But recommended.
Jul 14, 2016 Shubha rated it really liked it
I learned and reviewed a lot about sleep! I enjoyed the mixture of biology, psychology, philosophy, even poetry throughout the read.
Aug 02, 2011 Jo added it
brilliant - if you have sleep problems or want to know anything about sleep this book is really useful and entertaining
Dec 26, 2013 Pakai rated it it was amazing
Marvelous read . Filled with scientific explanations and history. Warrants a second read.
Jun 01, 2012 Hmollusc rated it it was amazing
A fascinating and very thoroughly-researched book by a real enthusiast!
Dec 07, 2008 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this to learn more about one of my favorite activities...slumber.
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
One of my most favourite activities after reading.
May 19, 2008 Jared rated it really liked it
Very good background to sleep in the western world.
Ryan Dansie
Dec 06, 2015 Ryan Dansie rated it it was amazing
For a book on sleep nothing was left uncovered.
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“But hold fast. Before you become too flushed at the prospect of starring nightly in your own private pornographic films, there are limitations.” 1 likes
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