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Sleep: A Very Short Introduction

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  397 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Why do we need sleep? What is sleep? What happens when we don't get enough? This Very Short Introduction addresses the biological and psychological aspects of sleep, providing a basic understanding of what sleep is and how it is measured, a look at sleep through the human lifespan, and the causes and consequences of major sleep disorders. The book describes dramatic breakt ...more
Paperback, 146 pages
Published March 24th 2012 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  397 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Amir Sarabadani
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I recommend this book to anyone who has trouble with sleep
Sep 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Modernity
Recommended to Alan by: Roberta
My wife handed me Sleep: A Very Short Introduction with a very clear agenda in mind—the same agenda, as it turns out, that its authors express: most of us (those of us with access to electric light, anyway) need to get much more sleep than we actually do.
Urban human sleep patterns are no more natural than those of {...} laboratory rats.
Even so, I... stayed up late to finish it.

Not that I'm advising you to do likewise.

Look—I know I should get more sleep, all right? People who actually need l
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
Maybe this is a Canadian -specific reaction, but every time the authors harped one about hoe up until 100 years ago, everyone had exposure to natural light and synced their sleep to it, it annoyed me.... land of the midnight sun, anyone? Some people have lived with extreme sunlight/ darkness conditions forever, and I was curious about how that affects sleep, but the perspective was very British...
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: vsi
Shortened or reduced sleep duration is associated with an increased risk of a number of serious diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. There also appears to be a close link between sleep and mental health . . .

It is already clear, however, that sleep is an essential behaviour and should be considered one of the key pillars of good health, along with diet and exercise, and should therefore be elevated in our list of health priorities.

Part of society’
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
I love the "Very Short Introduction" series enough that I decided to wander out of my comfort range and read something on a scientific topic. Lockley makes the important case for how much individuals and society need proper sleep, and presents its deficit as a social problem. Maybe predictably, I found the section on the history of sleep research the most interesting part of the book. The summaries of scientific research proved difficult for me to follow though; and when the author ranges into o ...more
Monica Willyard Moen
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: medical, kindle, nls
This book does a nice job of explaining how sleep works, why we sleep, and how things can go wrong when people have trouble sleeping. It is not a book about solving sleep problems. Rather, it’s seeks to explain sleep so the reader has a solid grasp of how it works.
Mauro Camara Escudero
This is what I’ve learned from it.

SLEEP – A very short introduction
During winters in pre-industrial times we slept up to 10 hours a day. Nowadays people kept on winter schedule sleep more than on summer schedule:
8.5 h (young adults)
7.5 h (older adults)
Change in sleep due to:
Electric lighting
Culture of long work hours
Long Commutes
Globalization 24 availability of goods sleep not a priority
ElectroEncephaloGram (EEG) uses electrodes on human scalp to record electrical activity of the brain.
Bernie Gourley
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is one book in a large series of books put out by the Oxford University Press. All of these “Very Short Introduction” books are brief summaries of the state of research on a given topic in the arts, sciences, or humanities. Based on this book, I’d say the series is geared toward a readership of educated non-specialists. I say “educated” because the book did get into some technical areas, and while it doesn’t presume any particular knowledge of the science of sleep, it does use a scientific ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
To be honest, even a basic volume like this (and the VSIs are never as basic as you fear they may be) contains more physiological detail than I can meaningfully process. A fascinating book, of course, and especially informative on the health consequences of our 24-hour culture and 'light pollution'. ...more
Elizabeth (Liz)
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great job of packing a lot of information on a very extensive subject. I am already in the process of changing my serial-snoozer ways and my continually sleep deprived state because of how clear, concise and informative this book has been. I did not realize what I was doing to my body in the process of trying to accomplish so much. I also had bought into the collective uninformed mentality which has moved sleep to the bottom of the priority list. Thank you for taking the time to pack so much int ...more
If you're interested in a subject and would like to explore it further in an easy to read and concise manner, you can't go wrong with the Oxford Press' series of 'A Very Short Introduction'.

Sleep is perfect for those who want to know more about why we need to sleep, the health benefits and side effects of not getting enough sleep, and a taster of the science behind it. Although it's only an introduction, it feels rather substantial when you're reading it and leaves you wanting to research the s
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read Foster and Kreitzman's book about Circadian Rhythms in the same series before I read this book, and the two books go well together even if there's a substantial amount of overlap. This book is an easier read than the aforementioned book, and if you're considering reading both books you should probably start with this one.

Closer to three stars than one, it's a decent book on these topics.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A superb short book, which presents in a nutshell what we know (and don't) about sleep. Using actual research and up to date knowledge and the subject, it cuts through the motivational/productivity bs which always tries to 'hack' sleep, leaving us in front of the truth: that sleep is serious business, of which we must take care of.
I highly, highly recommend it. I am going to re-read it for sure.
Luke Gompertz
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vsi
In a small way, this book was life-changing – it genuinely made me change my behaviour and changed how I think about sleep. I may not have always enjoyed the style, but there's a lot of nice information in there on the science of sleep, why it matters, and what you can do about it. I'd recommend just about anyone give this one a read. ...more
Apr 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
Is this really how scientists think and talk about sleep?

I remember wondering,
is this guy gonna talk about consciousness?
Or is he trying to talk all around it,
as if that is forbidden territory?


Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Concise yet provides enough information for avid learners!
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written in a clear language. Divided in short chapters and each deals with a different physiological, social, or cultural aspect of sleep. Recommended.
Abhijit Roy
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's a very good informative book. However further references should be explored for in depth knowledge. ...more
Tso William
This is a short, dense and textbook-like introduction to sleeping which, I find, is very satisfying to read, despite the many challenges of reading about very technical biochemical and anatomical terms (e.g. all the various neurotransmitter ending with -ine), the chapter of which, thankfully, only occupies a small part of this short introduction, with the remaining chapters dealing with broader aspects of sleeping, such as the sleep deprivation health issues, sleeping disease, jet lag and etc.
Jackson Cyril
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
An excellent addition to the VSI series, this volume argues that sleep is a vital biological function that has been ignored in medicine hitherto and that our modern society, which does not prioritize sleep at all, forces our bodies to undergo unnatural sleep patterns which place us at great risk to a number of life-threatening illnesses (including cancer and diabetes)-- not to mention increase our risk for accidents, driving and otherwise. Go get some shut eye folks!
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting read, very informative.

Good introduction read for a non-medical professional, also little bit hard for me as well. But I read it in less a week and enjoyed it.
Bojan Tunguz
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are hardly any other things in life that we take for granted as much as we do sleep. For most of us getting a good night sleep is one of the best simple pleasures in life. We only start thinking about sleep when we are not getting enough of it, a condition that is becoming increasingly common in the modern world. Even when we do give sleep some serious though, it is almost never something that we study in any great depth. Sleep is simple. We either sleep enough, or we don’t. And yet sleep ...more
Pablo Astorga
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-it
Sleep: a very short introduction is a good overview of the history and science of sleep. I bought it because I have recently become increasingly concerned about my poor sleeping habits and the impact that might have on my health.

I'm not an expert on the topic and was not looking for a detailed analysis on sleep. On the contrary, my goal was to understand only the basics and use that foundation to build in new habits that help me sleep more and, most importantly, better. From that perspective the
Daniel Wright
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
What do we do, every year, that causes car accidents to jump up by 20%, and heart attacks by 5%?

What is this revelation, you say? Is it that the government is secretly sending special agents to creep up behind pensioners and shout 'BOO!'?

No. It's much simpler than that. All we do is put the clocks forward. One hour less sleep between the Saturday and the Sunday is enough to mess up people's sleeping patterns enough to cause almost unbelievable damage to everyone's health during the Monday mornin
Jolaade Fadare
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is actually the first "Very Short Introduction Series" book that I've read, and with less than 150 pages trying to encompass an extensive topic like sleep, I think it's fair to call it a very short introduction. It discusses sleep deprivation in detail and talks about how much cognitive function can be impaired by the sleep deprivation that is inherent and pervasive in our present world. It also highlights how lack of sleep increases the body's susceptibility to several malignant diseases a ...more
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
As the title suggests this is a short book (about 130 pages, plus references), but very informative, concise and accessible. The first section describes what we know about the physiology of sleep, the 'C' process (own internal clock) and the 'S' process, which tells us we need sleep and how these two processes interact to give us our sleep-wake cycle.

For sleep itself, we still don't know why we do, though suggestions are made and the need for more direct experimentation and evidence espoused.

Jun 16, 2016 rated it liked it
An introduction that does not do a good job of explaining the technical terms well. There is a lot of information that is simply dumped on the reader, in chapter 1 and especially in chapter 2, which is unreadable in parts. The authors needed to use less terminology and explain it better. The rest, however, goes along quite smoothly. Covers how sleep works, what goes on in the brain while sleeping, the reasons for sleep, how sleep varies as we age, what happens when sleep suffers, and the role we ...more
Douglas Larson
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
While the book contains interesting facts about sleep, the presentation is a bit dry and I found myself struggling to stay with it. Consequently I skimmed through parts of it but read enough to find value. As the title states, this is a very short (only about 150 pages) treatment of the subject.

Also, while the author does explain many of the technical terms so that lay people can understand them, I never the less had trouble with understanding some of the concepts.

So while the subject matter i
Crissman Loomis
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I picked this up to learn strategies for dealing with jetlag. It was a good overview of current findings on sleep. The chapter on brain regulation was too technical. Other chapters had great information. For instance, the half-life of coffee in your body is 5 hours, and the amount necessary to keep you awake is 20mg. So, if you drink two cups of coffee at lunch, that's 200 mg of caffeine, and you'll still have 100 mg in your blood at 5 PM, and 50 mg at 10 PM, and 25mg at 3 AM -- enough to degrad ...more
Joseph Masters
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic, life-changing book. I am now convinced that sleep is a massively overlooked component of health and personally pay far more attention to my sleep routine!

The book does not skimp on scientific detail but it is still easy to read, broken down into nice short sections and not too long a book.

Overall, a really, really, really interesting read.
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