Dreamland Review
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Mysteries! Almost all of us enjoy delving into the unknown, following the clues to a revelation of some new truth. Yet we each live out our very own mystery all the time: the third of our lives that we spend in sleep.

One night, David Randall awoke to find himself on the floor of his apartment, injured and in terrible pain, with no memory of how it happened—because he’d been sleepwalking. Randall’s a journalist, so he decided to look into the latest research on sleep—and Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep is the result.

The author begins by explaining how the invention of the light bulb created a huge turning point in civilization: people no longer needed to structure their lives around the rising and setting of the sun. But freeing themselves to live the 24-hour day led to a host of unintended consequences. It altered the hormone cycles that govern circadian rhythms, increasing the rates of cancer, depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Sleeplessness led to increased mistakes and accidents—sometimes deadly. Technological advances led to global competition around the clock, and a good night’s sleep became a luxury, leading to a nation of exhausted, sick, sleep-deprived people.

Though the importance of sleep is the foundation, Dreamland isn’t just about sleep deprivation. Randall covers a wide variety of sleep-related topics, with something for everyone: sexual issues, performance capacity in sports, criminal behavior, family life, dreams, memory, learning, problem-solving, and current events. Randall’s a down- to-earth journalist, interjecting delightful, funny, and fascinating stories along with the statistics, so the book feels like a well-researched news magazine.

You’ll find answers to questions like these: What role did sleep deprivation play in the BP Oil Company disaster? How successful are different kinds of bedtime rituals in getting a stubborn toddler to go to bed (and stay there)? What difference has sleep made in the performance of soldiers in combat? Can someone be held liable for crimes he/she committed while sleepwalking? And, for those people looking to make a few bucks, how does the science of sleep help you know how to beat the spread on an east coast-west coast NFL game?

Once you read this book, you’ll realize that there may have been a reason for that customer service representative being so cranky, that driver swerving over into your lane, and your partner forgetting your dinner date. Maybe they weren’t just rude. Maybe they really needed a nap. Apparently, we all do.

If you’re a person who could use a little more sleep, you’re likely to enjoy this book. If you’re someone who could use a lot more sleep, you might just love it. And if you’re asleep right now…well, when you wake up, go directly to your local bookstore (do not pass GO, do not collect $200), and get this book.

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