Awakenings is the title of a 1973 book by the British neurologist dr. Oliver Sacks about his experiments in 1969 with L-dopa.

This drug, which gets converted in the brain to the neurotransmitter dopamine, was applied to a collection of patients who had been asleep since the early 1920s as the result of an epidemic of sleeping disease. It magically woke them up, allowing them to pick up their lives, brought to a halt 40 years before. However, the dosage proved hard to control, and the effects did not last indefinitely.

The book is very readable, and focuses on the personal aspects of these events, with the medical side staying in the background; perfect as a layman's introduction to the more spectacular sides of neurological reality. It sold very well.

The same title was also used for a 1974 BBC TV documentary about the subject, and a 1990 Hollywood movie, starring Robin Williams in the role of the neurologist, and Robert de Niro as one of the patients described in the book. The book's 1990 edition has additional sections, about the movie amongst other things.

(information partly from www.oliversacks.com)