Cover image for Counting sheep : the science and pleasures of sleep and dreams
Counting sheep : the science and pleasures of sleep and dreams
Martin, Paul, 1958 May 11-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2004.

Physical Description:
xi, 416 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Flamingo, c2002.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QP425 .M27 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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 origins and purpose. Paul Martin's Counting Sheep answers these questions and more in this illuminating work of popular science. Even the wonders of yawning, the perils of sleepwalking, and the strange ubiquity of nocturnal erections are explained in full.To sleep, to dream: Counting Sheep reflects the centrality of these activities to our lives and can help readers respect, understand, and extract more pleasure from that delicious time when they're lost to the world.

Author Notes

Paul Martin received a Ph.D. in behavioral biology at Cambridge University. He was a Harkness Fellow in the School of Medicine at Stanford and is the author of The Healing Mind .

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

As Martin catalogs what science has learned about sleep, he also exhibits a penchant for literary epigrams, cuing a discussion of insomnia or sleep's quality of escapism with a theme-setting quotation from Shakespeare, Milton, or Dickens. This arts-and-sciences combo lends fluidity to his presentation, as does his style of making a simple question (e.g., How much sleep do people need?) every subtopic's point of departure. Apparently urbanites are not getting enough sleep, and have not since the invention of electric lighting upset the dusk-to-dawn sleeping pattern of preindustrial societies. Martin chalks up the nefarious effects, including traffic and industrial accidents, impaired learning, and health problems. Our frenetic civilization also, Martin avers, deprives people of sleep's delights of restfulness and dreaming. In his synopses of sleep research, Martin exudes a sociable, we're-in-this-together demeanor that is appealing to readers, especially those willing to stand back and consider in detail how they fall asleep and dream. If in need of a popular-science introduction to slumbering, libraries can't go wrong with Martin's offering. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Scientist Martin (The Healing Mind) is on a mission to cure our "sleep-sick society" and convince us, for our own good, to start taking sleep more seriously. Pithy, wry and earthily humorous, this book is Martin's manifesto for a healthier society. He systematically critiques how our culture encourages us to skimp on sleep (usually so that we can work longer hours), and he rues the bad example of our befuddled, jet-lagged politicians. Applying scientific fact, theory and experiment, Martin demonstrates the similarity between sleeplessness and drunkenness; the links between the hours modern schoolchildren keep and ADHD; the role of sleeplessness in man-made disasters; and how sleeplessness and night shift work can contribute to serious illness. Martin highlights extreme abuses of sleep deprivation in torture and in warfare, while also celebrating sleep's creative power, telling of musicians who have woken up humming melodies and the scientists who benefited from the problem-solving qualities of deep REM sleep. When he discusses dreaming, Martin touches on the habits and beliefs of traditional societies as revealed by anthropologists, and neatly debunks Freud's interpretation of all dream imagery as sexual. A writer fully in command of his subject and his style, Martin reveals just how deeply and madly we pay for our collective indifference to the value of so simple a pleasure as a good night's sleep. Agent, Lesley Shaw at Gillon Aitken. (July 5) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved