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Tuck in for a gourmet sleep Counting Sheep The Science and Pleasure of Sleep and Dreamsby Paul Martin 416pp HarperCollinsLast frontiers are hard to find these days but Paul Martin thinks hes found one the pleasant land of counterpane that which knots up the ravelled sleave of care kip the one third of all human experience that has not been turned into lifestyle Sleep is not just not lifestyle it is becoming a shrinking disregarded nuisance a stumbling block on the road to the 247 society It is something of an embarrassment that in the time of the human genome we still dont really know what sleep is for Of course it is restorative but of what Muscles merely need rest the heart - the most active muscle of all - never stops But the brain cant do with rest alone the outside world has to be switched off and creatures that are prevented from doing it altogether die Sleep and books about sleep are always with us There was a surge of interest in the early 1980s with Francis Crick of DNA fame together with Graeme Mitchison proposing a new theory of dreams to whit that dreams are the brains way of getting rid of the days mental garbage And lucid dreaming became briefly pace my introduction a lifestyle fad Not a great deal has happened since then Paul Martins novelty is his polemical verve rather than any dramatic new theory Martin believes that most of us are sleeping less 1 hours a night on average and that we wont get away with it chronic lack of sleep increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes reduces libido and all other prized functions and is the main cause of road accidents you can spot sleeper accidents by the lack of skid marks The purpose of sleep over mere rest seems to be the consolidation of memory and learning Our memory does not work like
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