In this second of two episodes, Kenneth Miller continues his conversation with Gabriella about the choices he made while writing Mapping the Darkness. As we learned in the first episode, a century ago, sleep was widely considered a state of nothingness and a wasteful habit that we could learn to overcome. Thanks to the four scientists Kenneth introduced us to in episode one, we now know the truth: that sleep is an incredibly complex phenomenon, central to our physical, emotional, and cognitive health.

Kenneth shares with us how he captured each character’s passion and sense of scientific wonder, and how he structured the narrative to portray each scientist’s quest. He also describes the famous cave experiment in 1938 when two sleep researchers retreated into the cavernous Mammoth Cave in Kentucky for 32 days to find out whether they could switch to a 28-hour sleep cycle after being deprived of environmental cues. Kenneth describes his painstaking research strategy and how he transformed thousands of pages of complex scientific information into a propulsive and compelling biography of the quartet of individuals who revolutionised our understanding of why we sleep and how we can sleep better.

Mapping the Darkness is a propulsive, utterly engrossing history of the subject,  seen through the prism of four of its prominent contributors.’

New York Times Book Review 

The legendary sleep study in a cave
The legendary sleep study in a cave
Wall Street Journal Review of Mapping the Darkness
Wall Street Journal Review of Mapping the Darkness
Kenneth Miller

Kenneth Miller is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Time, Life, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Discover, Aeon, and many other publications. Kenneth has reported from four continents on topics including science, medicine, culture, criminal justice, religion, and the environment. Currently a contributing editor for Discover, he has served as the US West Coast editor of Reader’s Digest, a senior editor at People, and a staff writer at Life. He was also a senior writer for Our Times: The Illustrated History of the 20th Century. His honours include the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism, the American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Article Award for science writing, and the ASJA’s June Roth Award for medical writing.

Learn More: 

Life Examined program: “Mapping the Darkness: The Science Behind Sleep”

Free Thinking program: “The History of Sleep”

The Lisa Wexler Show: “Why do we sleep—and how can we sleep better?”

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