Science Of Sleep

The science and mystery of sleep and dreams. It’s becoming more clear.

Sleeping on the subway. (MattHurst/Flickr)

Sleeping on the subway. (MattHurst/Flickr)

There’s something about contemporary life that can lean against sleep. Our screens are always on, or could be. The world is always awake somewhere. And if you’re nodding off at noon, there’s a shelf full of “five hour energy” at every checkout.

And yet, we need sleep. It’s a continent of its own. Sometimes blissful. Sometimes a wreck of insomnia, sleep apnea, sleepwalking, wild dreams.

My guest today started out sleepwalking, and dug in to find all the latest in the science of sleep. Including, is it murder if you’re sleepwalking when you do it?

This hour, On Point: the science and mystery of sleep.

- Tom Ashbrook


David K. Randall, senior reporter at Reuters and an adjunct professor at New York University. His new book is, “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep.”

Rosalind Cartwright, professor emerita at the Rush University Medical Center and professor of neuroscience at Rush University.

From Tom’s Reading List:

Salon “The opening scene of Marcel Proust’s “Swann’s Way” is one of the most famously difficult to get through in literature. That’s not because of its style, which is sublime, but because it describes the experience of falling asleep. Many susceptible readers nod off the first few times they attempt it. All writing about sleep has this problem; of the fundamental human appetites, it’s the least exciting.”

The Daily Beast “It was the oops that ended a presidential campaign. After struggling for almost a minute in a November debate to come up with the third federal agency he’d eliminate should he win the Oval Office, Texas Gov. Rick Perry finally admitted he couldn’t remember. While his campaign quickly tried to limit the damage, there had been earlier signs that Gov. Perry was in trouble that had little to do with his campaign war chest, his policies, or his personal charisma. Instead, they had everything to do with his pillow.”

Wall Street Journal “A growing number of Americans don’t get enough sleep, thanks to higher stress and other factors. David K. Randall, author of “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep,” talks about the problem and some steps to improve sleep.”

Excerpt: Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep


“Enter Sandman” by Metallica

“Sleep” by The Dandy Warhols

“Tossin’ & Turnin'” by Bobby Lewis

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