A Book on Sleep Worth Reading

Wide Awake by Patricia Morrisroe (2010)

With only slight reservation, I have to recommend this book. Most books on sleep that I’ve come across are a pretty useless summary of the underdeveloped science of sleep. Written by doctors, covering the so called stages of sleep (in my opinion blunt, bogus, unhelpful), rules of sleep hygiene; I have yet to find anything other than the obvious that would be of any use to someone looking to improve their sleep. But Morrisroe’s book is a refreshing approach, weaving her personal narrative of a struggle with sleep issues in with the state of the (mostly junk) science being employed by the professionals she encounters. She is able to use a bit of a budget, presumably available to her from the book contract, to seek out every possible approach available to people who seek out help to remedy sleep issues. Everything you might want to know about is covered, from sleep studies to psychotherapy.

You’ll enjoy it particularly if you are more likely to have issues staying asleep rather than falling asleep. The author is repeatedly frustrated with the available advice being focused on how to get to sleep, when she has never had any problems with that step (rather she suffers from what is sometimes called sleep maintenance insomnia).

If you want to sample the author’s writing on the subject before investing in the book, I’d recommend these two NYT articles:
A Thousand and One Sleepless Nights
More Than Enough Hours in Every Day

My only knock on the book is that in one of her later chapters she gets a little caught up in the idea of dream analysis, where I was a bit put off by her insinuation that dreams have some sort of paranormal power to look in to the future. But when the analysis of her own psychology gets pretty deep, the insights she gains from taking a look at her unconscious is a surprising validation of Freudian thought that will leave any honest reader with lots to think about.

I’d have to include this book among a top three reads on the subject including:
Lights Out (not the best writing but a must-read nonetheless)
At Day’s Close

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