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on 18 January 2003
This book I found very hard to put down; There were times I had to force myself to stop reading it! The standard of writing flowed naturally, it had flair and wit. It was a wonderful experience to try out a few of the dream and sleep experiments. What a worthy book to read and a 100% recommendation to all new and yet to begin Paul Martin readers.
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Counting Sheep is a tantalizing book that tells you lots
of useful and not so useful but interesting facts about what scientists currently know regarding sleep and dreams.
People tend to give over and over again too little thought to
this so important part of our lives.
How dangerous is it really to be sleep-deprived?
How do dolphins sleep? What is there to sex and sleep?
How do cows dream? What can be done regarding sleep apnea?
How can you influence your dreams?
Martin tells about these facts and more sprinkling scientific
facts with excellent quotations of well-known writers and many funny anecdotes.
I hope this book will be translated soon into my mother tongue, Spanish. If you like sleeping or if you don't, if you sleep well or bad, if you snore or know somebody who does, if you remember your dreams or not, this book may interest you.
There were some parts that could have been kept shorter and Martin bit around the bush a wee bit, but in general, it was an excellent book.
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It's inadvisable to read much of this book in bed: you'll either be kept awake by your interest or else by sheer fright. This is a wonderful and exhaustively comprehensive treatise on the subject and its opening chapter is a tour de force, as gripping as any thriller. Martin tackles the well-known obstacle course of the discusssion of dreaming with especial thoroughness and erudition while the section on sleep malfunctions (and there're so many of them) reads with an almost clinical rigour that actually becomes scary.
I've no doubt that Counting Sheep will now become the standard work on sleep for the general reader but it's here wherein lies it's partial downfall. So intent is the author to pack in every known aspect of sleep-related matters that the book is in danger of overstaying its welcome (by about a hundred pages, I'd say). I couldn't help but get the impression that by the time we come on to the history of beds and bed-linens our author is beginning to run out of puff. Indeed, the second half of the book feels somewhat laboured and over-researched.
Martin is easily at his best when when he is interpreting research and voicing his own opinions than when simply plodding through the facts. Nonetheless, I would still urge you to read and digest as much of this book as possible because you will never think about sleep and dreams in the same way again. And not since Professor Paul Gilbert have I thought an author to have been more worthy of a leading non-fiction prize than this one.
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on 7 January 2004
The book magaes to cover so much ground in an informative and easy to read manner. It's packed full of useful information and fascinating stories, facts and tips about every aspectof sleep. From stories of people who have gone without sleep, to information about what effect sleep deprivation has on the body and mind, to dreams, nightmares, sleepwalking and answers the age old question that we've all been asking; "do fruitfly's dream?"
Go for it... you know you want to...
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on 6 August 2002
Martin's book is a refreshing change from the obsessions with dreams and dream analysis. Instead he focuses on sleep itself - what it is, why we need it, what happens when we go without it and so forth. Throughought the book he draws heavily on examples from the artistic and literary world to illustrate his points. This is a useful method, although it does drag somewhat. The only criticism is that the book moves on through subjects rather slowly, and sometimes lingers too long on certain areas, however the book is peppered with fascinating facts, observations and explanations, all written in an engaging and witty style.
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on 4 August 2005
The information contained in this book has allowed me to completely transform the quality of my life! I have for sometime being suffering from depression, tiredness, decreased concentration levels, lack of memory, lack of good judgement and even skin problems (i.e. acne.) And now due to the essential knowledge I have gained from this book into the workings of sleep I can "UNEQUIVOCALLY" attribute all of these problems were due to lack of good quality un-interrupted sleep. Regardless of what conclusion you may have reached by what I have said, I urge you to please read on, it may be a very important 2 minutes for you. I could write an essay of almost unlimited length regarding the knowledge I have gained from this book. But I will try to stick to the fundamentals.
I believe that knowledge should be put to good use, or why on earth should it even be obtained? So I must include within this review exactly what I have gained from reading this book. I have completely got rid of my depression problem, my mental ability and concentration levels have also increased dramatically. I also make fewer mistakes, and have MUCH better judgements. And my acne condition is almost no existent. When reading this, please bare in mind that I have done nothing other than change my sleeping pattern to regular and un-interrupted. Basically, I go to bed at a regular time every night with only the occasional late weekend night, and sleep for as much as I need. This can be achieved my constantly monitoring the amount of sleep you get in relation to how you feel. Eventually you will be able to work out exactly how much you need in relation to your life's activities.
Ok, now I must also tell you why increased sleep has positively affected each former problem area of my life. I have got rid of depression, because various chemicals in my brain are working as they should, and I also have decreased levels of "Cortisol" in my blood stream. Cortisol is the stress chemical... it decreases with the amount of sleep you get. My mental ability and concentration levels have increased, as I wake up every morning feeling refreshed and full of energy and life. Something that I could not even begin to comprehend before changing my sleeping pattern. I had pretty bad acne (I.e. pimples and spots). This problem is almost non existent now that I am getting proper sleep; my complexion has completely cleared up. This I believe can be directly attributed to my hormonal balance returning to near normal, which has directly affected the amount of sebum typed oil being secreted from the sebaceous glands in my skin. Your hormonal balance is regulated mainly when you sleep. Oh and by the way for anyone suffering from obesity, this is an absolute must for you, it will show you links with lack of sleep, depression = comfort eating and sleep apnoea which can stop you from losing the weight you want. Don't laugh this off, read and see! But the main area of my life which has been most positively affected has got to be my ambition. Due to lack of depression and increased energy levels I now feel that I can use this to my advantage and try to create a really good life for myself.
In conclusion, although before reading this book I had a ruff idea that it was my lack of good sleep that was my real problem... gaining knowledge into the real workings of sleep proved every belief I had regarding lack of sleep, and it also disproved many thing others have told me in the past. I urge you to have a read at this book, the knowledge contained in it might just full the missing link in your life.
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on 30 June 2003
This is probably the best popular science book I have ever read. Martin does a hugely comprehensive job on one of the areas of life so vastly overlooked. Not only does he cover sleep itself, but dreams, sleeping illnesses, sleeping in animals, insomnia, and even why we yawn.
He illustrates this information with some great anecdotes and a dry wit which had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion - all of it in an extremely readable, relaxed style.
This is a book which could quite easily change your life - or at least how you live it. The importance that we should give to sleep is consistenty emphasised: our body needs it more than food; it is essential to memory; missing even one hour can affect our driving as much as a couple of pints of beer, while chronic sleep deprivation can shorten our life.
At the very least you can read this book knowing that you'll never feel lazy again!
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on 3 June 2003
This book explains everything you need to know about sleep. If we all took more notice of the sleep we require, we wouldn't be spending so much money or NHS Prescriptions or other Natural Remidies.
A fantastic read, not too heavy and often with great humour. I couldn't put the book down - except when my body told me it was time for sleep.
The detail in which Paul Martin goes into is fantastic, I personally felt I had completed a diploma at the end of the book! It is an exceptional book.
I wonder if Paul has any plans to write about the connection between our sleep and the soul (including Spiritual Side of Sleep.) Like his other books, this book was a joy to read from an excellent author. Keep up the good work Paul!
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on 14 April 2016
Author Bio: Paul Martin is a Cambridge University graduate with a PhD in behavioural biology. Paul has authored several books all focusing on the pleasure aspects of behaviour and life (sleep, happiness and food) and has also written about mental illness.

Summary of the Book:

Counting Sheep is a book all about sleep and its various benefits, problems and history, that definitely did not have me nodding off. Everything comes down to sleep, health, life satisfaction, learning and memory. This book will change your understanding of how you spend one third of your life.

I learned plenty about the life under the covers and in the land of Nod, Paul Martin has put together a great book with one major message to get across to us all, we need more sleep and he has the knowledge and the advice to help.

Paul Martin works hard to get his point across to the reader, but he does a great job. The book is separated into 7 parts with a total of 17 chapters. Each chapter had sub sections, each with their own valid piece of information, each accompanied with a quote that relates to the subject matter. I enjoyed the format of this book, it was broken up nicely and make for comfortable reading, I didn't once find my self confused about what PM was talking about or his overall point.

Counting Sheep is a journey through all the elements of sleep, from how humans and animals actually go to sleep, what happens if we don't get enough (which we don't), dreams and how to control them, sleep disorders, cultural sleep habits and the dangers of sleep deprivation in everyday life.

PM shares with us the medical side of sleep, with lots of different terminology and jargon that I felt added some extra depth to the overall learning capabilities with this book, I like to learn whilst I read and this definitely taught me some important pieces of information. One of my favourite being that a Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is a surgery to remove the Uvula to alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnoea (a deadly sleep disorder).

PM pulls out all the stops, he delves into the evolutionary history of sleep, why we snore, how we move in our sleep, and how our senses can affect our dreams while we are asleep. Dreaming and its capabilities is a whole other portion of the book and it is very interesting, especially the advice on how to achieve lucid dreams and how to enjoy your sleep to the maximum.

My main criticism of this book is it seemed that PM needed to use historical figures and their various stories to make his point at each stage, I feel that he over did it with the stories, they were interesting at first but they seem to dilute what he was trying to say at times. I found what PM had to say was interesting, he is clearly esteemed enough to make his own points but he felt that stories, quotes and references to historical figures maybe gave the material that extra gusto, but I thought PM was doing a great job by himself.

This really is a book for everyone, there is information for babies, children, teenagers, men, women, the older generation and for animals too. My main positive aspect of this book is that Paul Martin genuinely wants to help people. He gives advice to the sleep deprived, new parents and the general population on how to deal with their sleep problems and that allow them to live a better lives when they are resolved (though there is not much you can do as a parent of a baby, been there...totally worth it though!)

PM has written a very influential book that is a must read by everyone, it will change your understanding of an evolutionary activity that you will spend one third of your life participating in, get learning and enjoy sleep, so you can enjoy life to the fullest.


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on 13 June 2007
According to the sub-title of this book, Paul Martin set out to uncover "the science and pleasures of sleep and dreams". It's hard to think of a better example of an author so exactly meeting the terms of his remit.

It is thorough in analysis but simple in exposition: important technical and biological information abounds, but the presentation is succinct and accessible to the lay person (in fact, almost a little too down homey in places), with the serious reader left to choose from over 40 pages of references should sufficient interest be stirred.

Martin really does justice to the mystery of dreaming and hazards compelling explanations for the existence of this intriguing nightly phenomenon. No reader could fail to be captivated by his elegy to lucid dreaming as he explains the secrets to the elusive state achieved when the dreamer "wakes up" yet carries on dreaming not only conscious but also able to direct the story-line of the dream itself. Having introduced such an startling possibility he is to be commended for suggesting ways we might all achieve such a blissful state.

Finally, I didn't take long to read it but I lost track of the friends and family members who asked to read it next, probably the best recommendation of all.
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