By: Tracey Marks
Publisher: Bascom Hill Publishing Group
Publication Date: February 2011
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2010
If you find yourself tossing and turning night after night wondering when you’re going to get to sleep, you can at least feel some comfort in knowing you are not alone. Misery does love company and every night there are 100 million other people in the United States doing the same thing. Unless you are suffering from a serious medical condition that prevents you from falling into a good, restorative sleep, there is really no need to flop around in your bed night after night worrying about sleep itself. In the first part of this book you’ll find yourself taking a look at sleep and the critical role sleep plays in our lives. In the second part you’ll be able to look at many strategies, one of which may be the one that helps you out.
The average reader may be tempted to skip over the first section explaining the process of sleep, but I wouldn’t recommend it. As I read through the pages I began to understand why people can fall into unhealthy sleep routines or, in some instances, may actually have sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, a disorder that left untreated could have serious health consequences. You will learn about the stages of sleep (non-REM and REM), the importance of these stages, declarative and procedural memory, a brief hypotheses as to the meaning of dreams, you’ll learn about nightmares, our circadian cycle, sleep inertia, psychiatric disorders and sleep, how your lifestyle can impact your ability to sleep, sleep evaluations, and you’ll learn many other interesting facets of our wake/sleep cycle.
The second section, one in which most readers will be riveted to, presents case scenarios and solutions that will enable many people to restore healthful, restorative sleep routines and quit counting those sheep. There is an in depth discussion of medications, prescribed and over-the-counter, that will give you a good idea of how they work. For example you will learn that benzodiapines can be addictive and “affect our sleep architecture” while others such as Ambien and Sonata are not, but “do act at the benzodiapine receptors in the brain.” Dr. Marks simplifies her material, but does not assume you are not intelligent. She discusses “off-label” drugs, the half-life of them, you’ll be able to see a prescription medication chart, she discusses natural remedies, behavioral therapies, the effects of alcohol, exercise and caffeine on sleep, and several other therapies. Cautionary notes are placed when needed, especially for those who prefer natural remedies or are thinking of using light therapy. Most readers will be quite impressed with Chapter 6, a chapter that outlines things you can do to help yourself.
As I read through this book, I recognized strategies that I had adopted years ago that were a huge help to me in an effort to help maintain continuous, proper “sleep hygiene” habits. Sometimes we need to take a step back and examine our own behaviors, or lack of them, and read books such as this one. There are case examples interspersed throughout the book that, had they not been picked apart and explained, would not appear to have a solution. This is a self-help book and in most cases people with sleep problems could benefit enormously from the many suggestions in this book. Of course any book is what you make of it and if you do not make an attempt to work consistently on these suggestions you will not succeed.
In the event that you feel you will need medical intervention or assistance, you will be well-armed after reading this book. For example, if you only have a fifteen minute block of time with your physician, you will be able to present your case effectively, especially if you come with a sleep diary. In the back of the book are sleep diaries, and two other useful charts that can be downloaded from the author’s website. What I especially liked was the clear concise way each topic or problem was explained. This book was obviously very well researched. There is an excellent index in the back and page after page of references too.
Quill says: If you’d like to see yourself sleeping like a log instead of fretting your nights away, this is one book you may wish to take a look at!
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