Don't Shake the Flask

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Tag: sleep

TBR Pile #3 – Dreamland by David K. Randall

Note: The TBR Pile series of posts aren’t strictly book reviews. It’s my excuse for writing a rambling blog post. While it will contain some of my thoughts about the book, I’ll may digress into other topics.

I really enjoy reading popular science books, mostly because if anything I get to learn something from them. Especially if the book’s subject is outside of my expertise. And if I get entertained by the author’s anecdotes and storytelling ability, that’s a bonus. In David K. Randall’s Dreamland, I got to learn all about the science of sleep.

What I found the most fascinating was that much of sleep is cultural. It’s not just about sleeping in separate beds because of middle-class morality or the lack of study in dreams because it’s considered woo. It’s also habit, too. Babies in different countries sleep in different ways. Type of mattress actually doesn’t make a lick of difference in sleep quality. What matters most is consistency, not the type of sleep habit one engages in.

But despite all the sleep labs and pharmaceutical companies touting their solutions for insomnia, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about sleep. I think this is just part of the bigger problem: that we still don’t know much about the brain.

One caveat, though. Randall is a reporter and not a doctor or scientist. He initially got into the topic because he had a problem with sleepwalking and much of the book, I feel, delved into the historical and societal implications of sleep. I would have liked a lot more science (especially since the book was billed as a discussion on the science of sleep)–particularly the neuroscience behind the phenomenon of sleep and the biochemistry used for the drugs that manipulate sleep. But then again, that may just be me. I’m not afraid of reading the technical details about this stuff. The general public, however, would probably be bored to sleep.

Thinking in My Sleep

Having dreams can be really annoying sometimes.

Oh, it’s not about the content of the dreams, whether they’re stressful nightmares or boring drabbles that could be forgotten after five minutes. It’s the quality. I’m one of those people who can dream vividly. Things are in color. I can hear things. I can taste and touch and smell. I can apparently read things, too.

You might think, what are you complaining about? It sounds like I can get immersed into a whole new world when I go to sleep. How can I find that annoying? Well, I find it annoying because I also find it exhausting. When I wake up, it don’t seem like I’ve gotten any rest at all because I feel like my brain has been working double time.

I’m blaming it on the freakishly early daylight at this time of year. It makes me wake up at approximately the same time no matter when I set the alarm–sort of like a sadistic sleep lab technician, always cutting my sleep-with-no-dreaming phase a little too short.