Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Promise of Sleep

(A hat-tip to Niniane Wang for loaning me The Promise of Sleep to read)

I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea 3 years ago, yet it wasn't until last year that I managed to adapt somewhat to it by using CPAP therapy. The Promise of Sleep is ghost-written by William Dement, the person who opened the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Clinic, and who was the first person to document the various stages of sleep. Amongst other things, one of the big features of this book is that it mentions the names of some doctors I'd heard about and one I actually met!

The book covers very quickly the history of sleep research --- extremely valuable and told from a first-hand perspective of course. Then it jumps into our biological clock and the opponent-process model for why we feel sleepy at certain times of the day and not others, despite a large amount of sleep debt. It turns out that this leads to certain dangerous situations --- if you're a night person, you might be extremely awake at a party, but then when driving home you could doze off and crash your car and lose your life because of how this process works.

He then covers certain sleep orders that were discovered --- restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and insomnia. In particular, he recommends sleeping pills for insomnia, especially since he feels that building up a dangerous level of sleep debt is much worse than the possibility of any addiction to sleeping drugs (which are by and large quite safe nowadays).

Finally, he shows you how to apply these theories to every day life, jet-lag, napping, and the life cycle of a person's sleep (for instance, we sleep soundly and well as children, most people shift from being Owls to Larks in middle age).

I found myself enjoying the book, even the parts that I've read before, and would heartily recommend this book over Take A Nap and other shorter books. Thanks, Niniane!
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