Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep” as Want to Read:
Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  3,568 ratings  ·  468 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dreamland, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
James (jim) Yes. Sleep doctors regularly start with sleep hygiene then consider conditioning or the many particular sleep disorders. Some of them insist on a labo…moreYes. Sleep doctors regularly start with sleep hygiene then consider conditioning or the many particular sleep disorders. Some of them insist on a laboratory sleep study. Some, like Elliot Weitzman and I, usually started with a nap study and did a night lab study when there was some justification in nap or intake interview. (less)
Stiff by Mary RoachSalt by Mark KurlanskyThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootEats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne TrussThe Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
You Read a Book about What?
2,310 books — 1,590 voters
Why We Sleep by Matthew WalkerDreamland by David K. RandallNight School by Richard WisemanThe Promise of Sleep by William C. DementInternal Time by Till Roenneberg
47 books — 20 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,568 ratings  ·  468 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
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
Nov 14, 2015 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 anxiet
Aug 02, 2016 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
Jul 05, 2012 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
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.
Sep 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Written by a journalist, so it's easy to enjoy, with lots of tidbits of interest, but light on the science. No agenda, just a bunch of essays about the subject. The take-aways are two: 1. Far too many ppl are not getting enough sleep, including toddlers, teens, soldiers (who are, after all, often teens themselves), and athletes, and 2. more research is needed into a variety of aspects of sleep, including dreaming, circadian rhythms, parasomnias, etc.

3.5 stars and a positive recommendation if you
Melissa Prange
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science, non-fiction
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
Aug 09, 2012 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 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
Aug 30, 2012 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
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Randall searches for the answers to the many questions we have about sleep, but finds that few are answered and almost none are straight-forward. His explorations into the inner workings of sleep labs to a murder committed in a sleepwalking episode left me more intrigued than I've ever been by the third of my life I spend in my bed. ...more
Mar 06, 2013 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 20, 2012 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
Sergey Shishkin
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
It's a more journalistic coverage than a scientific survey of current sleep research. The book tells curious stories but practicality doesn't go beyond what is already covered in magazine articles numerous times.

UPDATE: After trying a few things from the book myself, I'm even more skeptical of its revelations, and would take it with even larger grain of salt.

UPDATE 2: Compared to and, Dreamland is largely ungrounde
Sep 14, 2015 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,
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was SUCH an interesting book that detailed literally every aspect of sleep.
Highlights for me included
- how the invention of light bulbs/electric lamps changed how we sleep - shops started to stay open later, artificial light affected our body clocks
- how sleep is classified in the legal system, especially in cases where people commit crimes and even MURDER whilst sleepwalking
- insomnia and how different people treat it - including amphetamines and truck drivers
- studies show that there is l
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended to me by an internet stranger in a Facebook group, and it's so good and so fascinating. I read it in chapters at bedtime over several nights and enjoyed it thoroughly. Would recommend to anyone who sleeps. ...more
Oct 21, 2019 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
i had to dnf this bc i had it checked out for too long :/
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book! It was the kind of rare nonfiction book that one cannot put down once it has been started, and it explained sleep and sleep disorders in a way that was understandable. It was split up very well, and all of the research was well-done. Also, it gives a large quantity of information, and is full of interesting stories that pertain to the information given. It did not seem overly formal, but instead one gets to know the author. I would definitely recommend this to anyone intereste ...more
Elina Rouhiainen
Wasn't too thrilled about this after the first quarter or so, too many anecdotes and too little information, but it got more interesting towards the end. If you are a Finn and have taken high school psychology, you know most of this stuff already, but might still be worth a read. ...more
Pretty interesting book on the subject, if not as in depth as some would like. It’s most winning aspect is the number of routes the author issues to tackle the subject, as well as his own personal interest, his sleepwalking disorder.

I felt at times like I was taking a cool if laid back survey class on sleep at a community college somewhere. Not necessarily a fault since we are still learning things about sleep to this day that we didn’t understand well. Since this book is a few years on, newer r
Oct 12, 2014 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
Mar 04, 2015 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
Jan 19, 2013 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
Feb 11, 2013 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 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
Sep 26, 2012 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
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
Hakan Jackson
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's amazing how little we know about something we spend a good chunk of our lives doing. That little bit of what we know as of 2012 is covered in this book. What really makes this book great is that one two punch of science and history-it's a combination I wish all non-fiction had. It does go a bit autobiographical from time to time, but just enough to keep the book interesting. Now, if only I could find something written more recently so I can know what's been discovered about sleep in the las ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Book Review- Emily Weiss 1 2 Sep 07, 2017 06:22PM  
Strange 2012 Science 1 19 Nov 07, 2012 08:22AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It
  • The Self-Care Solution A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter--One Month at a Time
  • Die Liebe und wie sich Leidenschaft erklärt
  • 45 Татуировок менеджера
  • The Shining Pyramid
  • The White People
  • Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
  • Clouds
  • The Orphic Hymns
  • The Veil of Isis, or Mysteries of the Druids
  • The Bowmen and Other Legends of the War (The Angels of Mons)
  • Тук-тук, сердце! Как подружиться с самым неутомимым органом и что будет, если этого не сделать
  • The Hill of Dreams
  • HEKATE: Keys to the Crossroads - A collection of personal essays, invocations, rituals, recipes and artwork from modern Witches, Priestesses and ... Goddess of Witchcraft, Magick and Sorcery.
  • Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx
  • The Spell
  • de Raptu Prosperpinae
  • Theogony
See similar books…
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.

Related Articles

What will you do when it's your turn to pick your book club's next read? Well, this is what you won't do: panic. Why not? Because we've dug...
90 likes · 19 comments
“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.” 3 likes
“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
More quotes…