Books : reviews

David Randall.
Dreamland: adventures in the strange science of sleep.
W. W. Norton. 2012

For scientists and slumberers alike, sleep is surprisingly mysterious. We spend nearly a third of our lives asleep, but most of us don’t have the faintest idea of how it affects us. Researchers still don’t know why, exactly, we need to sleep in the first place, and yet the quality of sleep is one of the most important influences in our waking lives: sleep disorders have been linked to diabetes, hypertension, strokes, and dementia. The bed is a site of controversy, as well: Should parents sleep with their infant child? Is a marriage doomed to fail if partners sleep in separate beds?

Randall uncovers the research exploring those dark hours. Taking readers from military battlefields to children’s bedrooms, Dreamland shows that sleep isn t nearly as simple as it seems.