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on 8 July 2014
Night School is an interesting account of sleep and dreams by the popular psychology writer and professor Richard Wiseman.

The book covers: what happens when you sleep, the effects of not sleeping, the secrets of those who sleep well, techniques for avoiding night terrors, napping and learning in sleep, what dreams are, what they might mean, and how to lucid dream.

Wiseman balances anecdotes with research and modern studies, and the book is written clearly, accessible yet still describing and exploring scientific concepts. There is a good mix of explanation, and helpful advice about sleeping, napping, and dreaming. Wiseman is knowledgeable and witty, which makes for a more engaging read.

My only reservation was that Wiseman seems to cover too much ground. For example, when discussing what sleep is and how to get better sleep, Wiseman sometimes repeats the same point or states the obvious instead of revealing more detail about the mechanisms or indeed even more tips about how to sleep better.

Notwithstanding this, I would recommend the book to anybody having issues with sleep since it does give some important and great advice, as well to anybody fascinated by the phenomena that (should) occupy one third of our lives.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I agree with the other reviewers that this is a well-written and absorbing book, mixing, as it does, a great deal of humorous anecdotal information with scientific fact. I found the diagrams very helpful. However, potential buyers should be warned that the book oversimplifies the sleep/wake cycle by stating that this is totally controlled by the hormone melatonin whilst failing to mention any influence of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and GABA. Its explanations, therefore, would not be sufficient for an A-level student let alone an undergraduate. Similarly, it glosses over the role that lack of sleep plays in mental illness. Night school therefore is fun but not very educational.
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VINE VOICEon 31 March 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I think from the title of the book I was expecting more in the way of hints and tips and new secrets of how to gain more from sleep. Instead it is more of a summary book in various sleep studies with mildly amusing anecdotes added in for a personal touch. The information being relayed is interesting enough but it’d hardly changed my world with such revelations as “having less sleep means you are less alert” or “sleep deprivation is harmful”. I don’t feel I learnt anything in this book that I didn’t already know from newspaper articles or TV documentaries. Other information about sleep cycles is interesting but a bit unrealistic, I’m sure everyone would love to ensure they sleep in 90 minute cycles or have a power nap at the most optimum part of the day but real life often gets in the way of these ideals.

I don’t feel this is a bad book but it doesn’t add much to the idea that sleep is good for you and at £20 it’s tough to justify the price.
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VINE VOICEon 23 March 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book may be written by a professor and a psychologist to boot but it is an easy read and not at all heavy going.
It is also an interesting read and if you would like to understand the state of 'sleeping' this would be a good place to start.
Much of the book is devoted to trials carried out (both in the recent and the distant past) to try and understand what sleep is all about.
What is sleep? Is it at all important to get a decent nights sleep and if it is why? Is our time spent asleep just 'dead' time? Wiseman looks into these questions and more besides.
There are intriguing and quite fascinating parts when he talks about how your sleep can be a productive time when we can learn things and figure things out.
He discusses 'dreams as a therapist' letting us know that our dreams are often pointers to things that confuse, stress or just plain frighten us in our waking lives and if we pay attention to them they can help us recognise what steps we should be taking to ease the situations.
He also looks into nightmares and more importantly night terrors and tells us how to deal with them.
Some of the things I learnt were; we actually have about 5 dreams a nights starting with those that last a few minutes and building to those lasting up to 45 minutes. You only tend to remember the weird dreams. Regardless of your waking life 80% of dreams express negative emotions. Cheese does not give you bad dreams. Snacking on something carbohydrate is better for sending you off to sleep etc. Eight hours seems to be what we need for a decent nights sleep, under that or over that does not seem to be good for you according to studies. Those of us with broken sleep seem to be ok as long as we can get back to sleep.
If you are looking for answers to specific problems you will have noted some reviewers feel Wiseman has not gone into enough depth for them but this is still an informative, entertaining and interesting book.
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on 22 January 2015
At first, an interesting read. The book is witty throughout, although I find this gets a little repetitive and monotonous after about half way. There is a lot of research referenced in this book, although the author's conclusions based on the research are often anecdotal and ill-informed. This is a good read to gain insight into most aspects of sleep, but please don't go quoting some of the finer details to your medical friends as they may laugh in your face.
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have always found sleep a fascinating subject and have read several books on the topic. Wiseman presents up to date research in everything you ever wanted to know about sleep, in an easy to read format, which is not at all turgid.

The chapters are arranged in the format of "lessons", with a "exams" thrown in, to help one imprint what has been read earlier all the better onto one's memory. However, it is not a standard textbook, by any means. Wiseman balances witty anecdote well with scientific research. It is rather like watching an interesting TV documentary, entertaining, as well as informative.

Wiseman helps the reader discover their own sleep patterns and advises on how best to get a good night sleep, how long for and offers tips on how to beat insomnia, sleep walking and night terrors.

I note Wiseman adopts a friendly tone with the reader, without becoming over familiar. This seems to be the trend for modern non-fiction "factual" texts. However, care needs to be taken. The first chapters I went to on receiving the book wasn't Chapter One - (a beauty about this book is that you can dive and out of whatever parts interest you) - but were the chapters to do with "Sleep Walking & Night Terrors" and "Sleep Sanctuary", about dreams and the gift of prophesy. It was reassuring to discover that Wiseman's own interest in sleep had been aroused because he himself had experienced night terrors. However, his chummy tone of gentle mockery of the experiments into dream projection from one person to another and the sex-obsessed theories of Freud made me wonder whether an author should reveal his scepticism quite so openly, even though some of his comments are very funny indeed. I am not sure the modern tendency of authors inserting their own witticisms into their observations will not turn at some point into a pet aversion of mine in the future, when yet another author uses the same technique.

Very interesting book. I have no hesitation in recommending it as an absorbing read.
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on 16 April 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Night School is the latest pop psychology book from Richard Wiseman. Like his other books, it is a informative, easy and fun read. Night School looks at the interesting subject of sleep, particularly why we sleep and what happens when we sleep. The book covers many studies that have been carried out about sleep. The book also contains some advice for people who are having trouble sleeping, although this is not intended as a guide for insomniacs. Whilst I did enjoy the book, I don't think it is quite as interesting or eye-opening as Richard Wiseman's other books.
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on 3 April 2014
As a long term insomniac I was intrigued to see if this book could offer me any practical advice. It didn't disappoint. Armed with many tips and suggestions on getting a great night's sleep (which in hindsight now seem rather obvious), I am eager to start putting them into practice. This is an easy, enjoyable read and I would recommend it to insomniacs and super sleepers alike. You might just learn how to improve your health, control / maximise your dreams and perhaps find a little inspiration along the way.
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VINE VOICEon 17 April 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'd been wanting to address my sleep patterns for some time before electing to try out this book. Sometimes when you are in the right mindset the right book comes along to encourage this.

As a fan of napping since I can remember its lovely to get the science to back this up. Firstly it allows you to feel less guilty about taking time out in your day to recharge, but it gives you a secondary guild-free hit when others might feel you are a bit lazy.

Deciding on the right amount of sleep every night, once again it confirms that a good 8 hours is a minimum.

Plus there is some scientific evidence as to the advantage of getting to sleep at the right time to optimise your sleep as well. For me, drifting past 1.30am usually leaves me feeling I need more than 8 hours sleep. Whereas an earlier bedtime I get a more refreshed sleep going to bed before 1.30am

The trickier bit is actually to stick to a good sleeping pattern for more of a lifestyle change rather than a weekly fad that soon passes. The secret of making the change stick is not covered in this book. But at least I know I do benefit from getting quality sleep per night if I get a full 8 hours and get to bed before 1.30am.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Like all of Wiseman's books, Night School is an accessible & fun read, as well as very interesting. There's some practical advice, which as ever is backed up by some fascinating scientific studies. Ultimately, however, it boils down to 'most people don't get enough sleep', which won't surprise many readers. A worthwhile read but not as insightful as his other books.
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