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Book Review

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The Promise of Sleep:
A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection
Between Health, Happiness and a Good Night's Sleep.

Available at  Sandman's Book Store

The Promise of Sleep, by William C. Dement, M.D., Ph.D.

The Promise of Sleep is to the inner sleeping universe what Carl Saganís Cosmos was to the outer universe. The book covers and explains what Dr. Dement passionately feels that everyone must know. It is the education we should have received in school but didnít, and realizing that the general public is not about to read a textbook, Dr Dement has made The Promise of Sleep clear, easy-to-read, and entertainingly spiced with anecdotes from his long career. It is a "must read" for all sleep professionals and can be enthusiastically recommended to everyone. It should be a companion to the Gideon Bible in every hotel room in America.

All humans exist in three entirely different organismic states, each having a unique set of malfunctions and potential malfunctions. Moreover, the health of each state influences the health of the other two. Because our consciousness during REM and nonREM sleep does not have the continuity, focus, and reflection of waking consciousness, most individuals tend to think of sleep as the brain "turned off." As a consequence, the vast terrain of sleep is completely misunderstood and oversimplified by the general public, and the huge numbers, complexity, and seriousness of sleep disorders continue to be largely unknown .

In the decades since observations on the occurrence of rapid eye movements during sleep, the low level of public awareness has remained unchanged while a small but growing number of scientists and clinicians have continued to accumulate astounding observations, experimental results, and knowledge about our sleeping lives. While a large number of trade books about one or other aspect of sleep have been published, usually by non-specialists, there has been no book that aims to illuminate the entire nocturnal domain for all literate people. As Dr. Dement points out, since communication with the public through the mainstream educational system does not exist, the task of launching an adequate educational initiative involving the now huge body of knowledge about sleep has become daunting. In addition, many people see only their personal illness, or in the case of professionals, their personal theory as the sleep domain.

Part One gives a wonderful introduction to sleep and the biological clock. This is the basic information that everyone should know about their own bodies and sleep needs in addition to professional usefulness .

Part Two dramatically and clearly covers common and some not-so-common sleep disorders. This section provides education about serious sleep disorders and their importance for anyone who has little or no previous exposure including physicians.

In Part Three, Dr. Dement reviews the functions of healthy sleep. He considers what sleep does for us, how it effects our mood, health, and life in general. He also covers the topic of dreams--what they are, where they come from, and what they mean.

Part Four takes what the reader has learned and systematically applies it to everyday life and society. Several chapters are couched in a palatable "how to" framework. Dr. Dement outlines a healthy sleep schedule for individuals, suggests public policy changes, and relates how the information on sleep is not reaching the public and what to do about it.

Because the book also reflects Dr. Dementís historical perspective and is seasoned with many anecdotes from his long career, it will be enjoyed by all sleep professionals. In addition, The Promise of Sleep should be first on the list of recommended reading for all non-professionals with interest in health and well-being.

Sharon Keenan, Ph.D.

President/Director, School of Sleep Medicine, Inc.

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