Science fiction and fantasy
by Richard Wiseman59 Seconds this isn't vague feelgood self-help nonsense which sounds great but under-delivers; it's backed by science.
The book is structured into eight lessons, and each one ends with a short, fun test where you can assess things such as the quality of your sleep, your snoring, or how susceptible you are to being hypnotised. Richard Wiseman takes a light-hearted tone that makes his writing very easy to digest. However, this sits beside an incredibly shocking and serious aspect to the subject. It's possible to die of sleep deprivation in extreme cases, and it takes weeks of constant wakefulness rather than a sleep debt that builds up over time. But failing to get enough sleep regularly also has other long-term health implications, as well as making it more likely that you'll have accidents. There is a lot in this book to shock readers into taking more care to make enough time for sleep, as well as a host of tips for banishing insomnia.
One thing I appreciated was the way the author de-stigmatised taking naps, and indeed sleeping well. There is cultural pressure to under-sleep, whether that's through working patterns or the perception that napping or sleeping in is inherently lazy. The author debunks those ideas, and presents evidence that people who sleep the right amount are more productive.
The section on sleep walking and night terrors was interesting. Another four lessons are devoted to dreams: their role in learning, the meaning of them, how to use them to help solve problems or enhance creativity, and whether it's possible to have lucid dreams. Whilst much of this is fascinating, it doesn't have as many potentially life-changing practical applications as the first half of the book.
Blue light is my nemesis, but its dangers are a message that a lot of people don't seem to have registered. Some of the other tips offered in this book are common sense, but there are others that aren't as well known, and all it takes is a small number of practical tips to make Night School worth every penny of its cover price. Best read in natural light.
31st January 2016
If you like this, try:The Organised Mind by Daniel Levitin
The modern world can bombard us with information, making it exhausting to try to keep organised. Daniel Levitin examines the neuroscience behind keeping order and remembering what we need to.
Maximum Willpower by Kelly McGonigal
This book explores the science of self-control, and examines the evidence for many methods for boosting willpower.
Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
The neurologist Oliver Sacks examines the varied reasons why people may sense things that aren't there.
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