Thankfully I have never had any issues in sleeping. I put my head on the pillow and almost always I am asleep within a few minutes. I sleep deeply too, I missed the entire Great Storm in 1987 and was totally oblivious to a massive lightning storm that struck an oak tree opposite where I lived. My father has always called it a short course in death…
Sleep is essential to our health, but no one can say with any conviction exactly why we need it. If we are sleep deprived then there is a finite time that we can survive, hence why it is used as a form of torture. So what happens to our brain at night? A lot of what we can learn about the brain when it is resting is by studying those that struggle with all manner of sleep-related issues.
Guy Leschziner is well placed to explain these sleep issues as he is the head of the Sleep Disorders Centre at Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospitals. In this book, he explains the various types of disorders that he has come across, such as sleepwalking, apnoea, night terrors and narcolepsy, through the stories of the people that he has met and treated. Some of the things that these people have to suffer sound horrendous, paralysis, tremors and hallucinations, for example. The story of a lady who would wake in the middle of the night and drive around whilst asleep and be utterly unaware what she was doing is terrifying.
This book by Leschziner is a fine addition to the discussion and understanding of this little understood habit that we have to undertake every day for our health. His compassionate writing about the people that he is treating will help those that have been suffering from insomnia and other sleeping disorders to understand that they are not alone. There are several books out there now about sleeping. Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker is a really good explanation of why we need sleep and this accessible book is a fine addition to the knowledge of sleep.
Paul Cheney 4/4
The Nocturnal Brain: Tales of Nightmares and Neuroscience by Dr Guy Leschziner
Simon & Schuster UK 9781471176357 hbk Mar 2019