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Night School summary

Richard Wiseman

The Life-Changing Science of Sleep

3.9 (91 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

"Night School" by Richard Wiseman explores the science of sleep and offers practical advice for improving its quality. Discover how to optimize your sleep routine and unlock the full potential of your brain power.

Table of Contents

    Night School
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    A good night’s sleep involves five stages where muscles relax, brain waves decrease and dreams begin.

    Everyone knows that sleep is just what you do when you’re not awake, right? Well, while some of us might take sleep for granted and think of it as a simple daily routine, it’s actually a fascinating and complex process.

    Before we fall asleep, we need to gradually help the mind and body relax.

    With an electroencephalogram, or EEG, scientists can monitor brain activity and see that our brains produces between 12 and 30 electric waves per second when we’re awake. But when we settle into bed, this slows down to around 8 to 12 waves per second.

    In the first stage of sleep, the muscles and the mind relax, and brain activity slows down even further, to around three to seven waves per second. This is when the brain begins to produce creative and less rational ideas.

    Salvador Dalì took advantage of this stage by holding a spoon over a glass, and as he would drift off into the first stage of sleep, his muscles would relax and the spoon would fall into the glass, waking him up. He would then use the abstract images or idea that he had just imagined in his art.

    In the second stage, muscles continue to relax and your breathing becomes deeper. This is the stage when your throat muscles relax and snoring can ensue.

    After the second stage, we move from light sleep into the deep sleep of stages three and four.

    At this point, brain activity decreases to just one or two waves per second, and the body is entirely disconnected from its surroundings, which is why it is difficult to wake someone up when they’re in the third or fourth stage of sleep. And if they do wake up from these stages, they’ll likely feel groggy and have a hard time focusing for a little while.

    Finally, in stage five, the heart rate accelerates and rapid eye movement (REM) begins, which is a sign that the person is dreaming.

    From here, the whole cycle starts again. Progressing from stage one to stage five generally takes about 90 minutes – so the entire process can repeat about five times in an average night.

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    What is Night School about?

    Night School (2014) is about an often neglected yet essential ingredient for happiness and success in life: a good night’s sleep. People have been struggling with sleep for centuries, and while we’ve come up with some methods for alleviating insomnia, we’ve also gained a lot of insight into why sleep is so crucial.

    Night School Review

    Night School (2014) by Richard Wiseman delves into the fascinating world of sleep and teaches readers how to optimize their nighttime routines for a better quality of life. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its scientific research and expert insights, it provides practical tips on how to improve sleep quality and wake up feeling refreshed.
    • Packed with interesting anecdotes and real-life examples, it keeps readers engaged and eager to learn more about the mysteries of sleep.
    • The book's accessible language and logical structure make it easy to understand, even for those without a background in sleep science.

    Best quote from Night School

    In the second half of the night, there is almost no deep sleep, and the dreams can last up to 40 minutes.

    —Richard Wiseman
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    Who should read Night School?

    • Insomniacs desperate for a good night’s sleep
    • Workaholics who think sleep is overrated
    • Readers wondering why they have nightmares

    About the Author

    Richard Wiseman is a professor at the University of Hertfordshire and one of Britain’s most acclaimed psychologists. He is celebrated for making complex concepts accessible to the general public through his popular YouTube videos and his best-selling books, such as 59 Seconds and Quirkology.

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    Night School FAQs 

    What is the main message of Night School?

    The main message of Night School is that there's more to intelligence than traditional education.

    How long does it take to read Night School?

    The reading time for Night School varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Night School a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Night School is worth reading for its unique perspective on intelligence and learning. It provides valuable insights in just a short amount of time.

    Who is the author of Night School?

    The author of Night School is Richard Wiseman.

    What to read after Night School?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Night School, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • End the Insomnia Struggle by Colleen Ehrnstrom and Alisha L. Brosse
    • The Science and Technology of Growing Young by Sergey Young
    • The Mind at Night by Andrea Rock
    • Ending Aging by Aubrey de Grey
    • Dangerously Sleepy by Alan Derickson
    • Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson
    • Hello Sleep by Jade Wu
    • The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel
    • The Sleep Solution by W. Chris Winter
    • Mindful Self-Discipline by Giovanni Dienstmann