6 reviews on the science of sleep.

Abel, Emily K. Sick and tired: an intimate history of fatigue. North Carolina, 2021. 206p bibl index ISBN 9781469661780, $95.00; ISBN 9781469663340 pbk, $19.95; ISBN 9781469661797 ebook, $14.99. 
Reviewed in CHOICE June 2022

Driven by personal experiences with fatigue, Abel (Univ. of California, Los Angeles) chronicles the nature, cultural interpretations, and professional health care reactions to this stigmatizing, ill-defined, under-recognized, poorly treated condition. Fatigue is an ambiguous malady with varied presentations, preventing consensus on criteria for its identification. Without diagnostic criteria or tests, personal descriptions of fatigue, often devalued or dismissed without medical confirmation, are the primary basis for identification. This often leads to misattribution of fatigue to psychological causes, “personal weakness” (p. 101), or side effects from treatment of other medical conditions. Commonly prescribed antidotes to fatigue, viz. rest, sleep, exercise, and energy boosters, are at best insufficient and at worst may exacerbate chronic fatigue. As Abel argues, cultural values further contribute to misconstruing fatigue. Society places a high value on triumph over illness through medicine and personal grit, stressing individual responsibility for healing and productivity as a measure of personal worth. As a chronic condition with no specific intervention to alleviate associated impairments, fatigue defies these values, resulting in further diminution of the condition and those people suffering from it. Abel brings to light the importance of seeing fatigue as a distinct health condition necessitating direct intervention and empathy for people experiencing the condition. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students and professionals. General readers. —C. L. Mejta, Governors State University

Duff, Kat. The secret life of sleep. Atria/Beyond Words, 2014. 238p bibl ISBN 9781582704685, $24.00; ISBN 9781476753287 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE March 2015

Having been raised in a time when “early to bed and early to rise” made one “healthy, wealthy, and wise,” this reviewer is intrigued by the apparent change in the sleep/wake cycle of today’s students and thus intrigued by The Secret Life of Sleep.  In her preface, essayist/author Duff (The Alchemy of Illness, 1993) describes the onset, development, and deep appreciation of her own study of sleep as well as that of others.  The book contains 17 chapters with such fascinating titles as “When the Sandman Comes,” “When Sleep Never Comes,” “Knitting Up the ‘Raveled Sleave of Care,'” and “Waking Up Is Hard to Do.”  Of course, Duff explores dreams, ordinary, big, and subversive, along with what can be considered normal sleep and sleep disorders.  She has adroitly combined “every source [she] could lay [her] hands on …” to weave an understandable and meaningful tapestry about sleep.  Those interested in delving deeper into individual topics can consult the extensive notes, each containing citations from the literature.  A list of 27 recommended readings follows the text.  A valuable resource for a wide audience. Summing Up: Recommended. Students of all levels, general readers, professionals/practitioners. —L. A. Meserve, Bowling Green State University

Foster, Russell G. Life time: your body clock and its essential roles in good health and sleep. Yale, 2022. 480p bibl index ISBN 9780300266917, $30.00; ISBN 9780300268584 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE May 2023.

Renowned British scientist Foster provides non-medical readers with a useful treatise on sleep and the circadian rhythms affecting all biological organisms. The book is well referenced—high quality scientific sources are frequently cited. Foster’s goal is to inspire readers about emerging biological rhythm science and encourage its application in lifestyle choices that promote personal health. Initial chapters introduce concepts of sleep and biological rhythms of organisms from bacteria to mammals, offering a comparative review of the different organ systems they comprise. Chapters 3–13 introduce sleep/circadian rhythm disruption (SCRD) and discuss various aspects of SCRD consequences, often providing suggestions on how best to time various human activities (e.g., ingesting specific nutrients or medications) to achieve maximum benefit. The final chapter offers hope for integration of biological rhythm science into personal and societal behaviors. Each chapter concludes with answers to questions from attendees at the author’s speaking engagements. Two useful appendixes conclude the book. US readers will occasionally need to convert values expressed in terms of British standards to those familiar to a US audience (e.g., normal levels of various blood values). Readers should be alert to important information included in long captions to the occasional figures in the text. Those with an introductory course in biology will have a slight advantage. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates. General readers. —T. D. DeLapp, emerita, University of Alaska Anchorage

Lewis, Penelope A. The secret world of sleep: the surprising science of the mind at rest. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 200p ISBN 9780230107595, $27.00.
Reviewed in CHOICE July 2014

While everyone recognizes the physiological requirement of a restful sleep, far fewer understand the underlying cellular and biochemical complexities associated with the sleeping brain. Lewis has been studying the latter for years as the director of the Sleep and Memory Lab at the University of Manchester (UK). She utilizes a rich literature of sleep research to help readers connect their own experiences with sleep to the underlying biological mechanisms that produce that experience. For example, the fading memory of dreams is the result of the decreased responsiveness of the hippocampus–the part of the brain associated with memory–during sleep. The first four chapters of the book introduce basic brain anatomy and the biochemistry of neural communication. In the remaining chapters, readers learn that while the body may appear to be at rest, the brain remains busy reorganizing and replaying memories, managing stress, and even engaging in a creative process by making novel connections between disparate ideas and experiences. Each chapter concludes with a “Summing Up” section, which functions as a review of the most salient points. Both the subject matter and Lewis’s engaging narrative style will appeal to a broad audience. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. —J. A. Hewlett, Finger Lakes Community College

McNamara, Patrick. The neuroscience of sleep and dreams. Cambridge, 2019. 263p bibl index ISBN 9781107171107, $99.99; ISBN 9781316629741 pbk, $39.99; ISBN 9781316821091 ebook, $32.00.
Reviewed in CHOICE October 2019

McNamara, PhD (Associate Professor, Department of Neurology at Boston University and Professor of Psychology, Northcentral University) presents an introduction to the neuroscience of sleep and dreams in this extensively researched scholarly text. Covering the evolutionary and social nature of the topic, the volume is divided into two sections (“Sleep” and “Dreams”) covering the definition of each, the neurological/biological aspects, REM vs. NREM states, sleep and dreams across the lifespan, disorders, dream varieties, sleep and dream theories, and more. While the book is detailed, it is written in a clear and accessible style. The well-organized format of the chapters includes learning objectives at the beginning, as well as review questions and further reading at the end, making the text suitable for classroom use. This title is part of the “Cambridge Fundamentals of Neuroscience in Psychology” series, and would be a suitable companion volume to other books in that series or to McNamara’s other works. Includes appendix materials, and references. Highly recommended for collections in sleep, dream, and consciousness studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. —J. Bailey, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

Sleep science, ed. by Hawley Montgomery-Downs. Oxford, 2020. 480p bibl index ISBN 9780190923259, $60.00; ISBN 9780190923273 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE September 2021

This text is a comprehensive overview of sleep science authored by an international roster of experts. Each chapter features hundreds of references, both current and classic. Part 1 provides an overview of sleep from early myths to current science. Chapters cover sleep in animals, physiology of sleep in human body systems, circadian rhythms, and the culture of sleep. Part 2, “Lifespan Development,” includes chapters devoted to sleep in each stage of life from infancy to aging, and a separate chapter is dedicated to women’s health. Part 3 comprises chapters on several types of sleep disorder and a chapter on the pharmacology of sleep. Part 4 focuses on assessment. Here there is a chapter on polysomnography and other objective measures of sleep. The chapter on subjective measurement of sleep is actually an overview of instrument development methodology, and does not present the examples of established sleep-related self-report measures as expected by this reader. The book concludes with chapters describing the professions of sleep psychologist, sleep physician, and polysomnographic technician. While all treatments are detailed, the text is readable and interesting. It is appropriate for professional readers, but may be somewhat too advanced for undergraduates without an appropriate background in anatomy and/or the health sciences. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals. —C. Reed, Stockton University