Synopses & Reviews
The acclaimed science writer Jennifer Ackerman lends her keen eye and lively voice to this marvelous exploration of the human body. Taking us through a typical day, from the arousal of the senses in the morning to the reverie of sleep and dreams, Ackerman reveals the human form as we've never seen it: busy, cunning, and miraculous.
Advances in genetics and medical imaging have allowed us to peer more deeply inside ourselves than ever before, and one of the most amazing recent discoveries is that we are intensely rhythmic creatures. The human body is like a clock — actually an entire shop of clocks — measuring out the seconds, minutes, days, and seasons of life. Weaving pieces of her own life with that of Everyman, Ackerman shows the importance of synchronizing our actions with our biological rhythms — and how defying them can cause us real harm.
We learn the best time of day to drink a cocktail, take a nap, run a race, give a presentation, and take medication, along with a host of other curious facts, such as why you succumb to a cold and your spouse doesn't, even though you've both been exposed to the same sick child.
Did you know that you can tell time in your sleep? Or that up to half of the calories you consume can be burned off simply by fidgeting? That women have more nightmares than men? That tuna, sardines, and walnuts may ease depression?
At once entertaining and deeply practical, this fascinating book will make you think of your body in an entirely new way.
"A fascinating look at what modern science tells us about who we are." Elizabeth Kolbert
"Such wide-ranging material has the potential to get out of hand, but here it is nicely tamed by the book's lucid structure....Ackerman's illuminating and hospitable book helps ensure that the inner life of our bodies will receive its fair share of wonderment." Kyla Dunn, The New York Times Book Review
"An insightful text celebrating just how clever is the machine we call the human body." Kirkus Reviews
"A skilled and personable science journalist, Ackerman has hit her stride in her third book....[O]ne can't help but note that scientific breakthroughs are proving the veracity of age-old adages about how to live right." Booklist
Acclaimed science writer Ackerman lends her keen eye and lively voice to this marvelous exploration of the human body, and reveals the body as its never been seen — as an amazing, rhythmic creature.
Did you know that you can tell time in your sleep? That women have more nightmares than men? Or that up to half of the calories you consume can be burned off simply by fidgeting? In Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream, acclaimed science writer Jennifer Ackerman takes us on an astonishing and illuminating tour of the human body during a typical day, from waking in the morning to the reverie of sleep and dreams.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of circadian rhythms, the idea that the human body maintains its own internal clock. Recent scientific advances reveal the importance of synchronizing our actions with our biological rhythms and show how defying them can cause us real harm. With Ackerman as our guide we learn the best time of day to take a nap, give a presentation, take medication, and even drink a cocktail, along with a host of other useful and curious facts. Entertaining and deeply practical, this book will make readers think of their bodies in an entirely new way.
About the Author
Jennifer Ackerman is the author of Notes from the Shore and Chance in the House of Fate. She writes regularly for National Geographic, the New York Times, and other publications. As a journalist, she has tracked the rare red-crowned crane in Hokkaido, interviewed a chimpanzee and "raced" him on a treadmill, chased a hurricane with geologists on a North Carolina barrier island, crossed the Pacific in a research vessel studying the effects of global warming, and searched for dinosaur and early bird fossils in the remote Liaoning province of western China. The recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant and Bunting Fellowship, she is married to the novelist Karl Ackerman and has two daughters. She resides in Charlottesville, VA.
Table of Contents
MORNING 1. AROUSAL 3 2. MAKING SENSE 16 3. WIT 27
MIDDAY 4. THE TEETH OF NOON 43 5. POST-LUNCH 54
AFTERNOON 6. THE DOLDRUMS 73 7. STRUNG OUT 84 8. IN MOTION 98
EVENING 9. PARTY FACE 119
NIGHT 10. BEWITCHED 135 11. NIGHT AIRS 145 12. SLEEP 157 13. HOUR OF THE WOLF 175
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 191 NOTES 195 INDEX 237