"Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams" (Thomas Dunne Books) is a sort of wake-up call in reverse. It aims to close "the vast gap between current scientific understanding of sleep . . . and the practical benefits it could bring if that knowledge were absorbed and acted upon by society."


Paul Martin is author of several books, including "The Healing Mind: The Vital Links Between Brain and Behavior, Immunity and Disease." He is a former Stanford University Harkness fellow who holds a doctorate in behavioral biology from Cambridge University.


Martin extols the virtues of sleep, many of which we know -- anecdotally or intuitively -- but ignore. For example, he explains the science underpinning the benefit of sleeping on a problem or dilemma. And he doesn't stop at humans: He entertainingly explains such things as how sea mammals manage to sleep without drowning.


Though reader-friendly, "Counting Sheep" makes no pretense of being a traditional how-to book. At over 400 pages, it may require a greater time investment than many readers will make. Even Martin might suggest your time could be better spent catching up on your sleep.


The "Give Sleep a Chance" section includes a list of potentially useful tips for enhancing the sleep experience. An example: "Learn to nap efficiently and without feeling guilty. (But don't overdo the daytime napping, especially if you find it hard to sleep at night.)" He also recommends strategies for learning to remember dreams.