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A Little Nighttime Reading

April 26, 1999|JANE E. ALLEN

THE PROMISE OF SLEEP

William C. Dement, M.D., PhD

and Christopher Vaughan

Delacorte Press

$24.95, 524 pages

*

"We are a sleep-sick society," writes Dr. William C. Dement, founder and director of the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Research Center, who argues that lack of sleep is not a nuisance, it's a deadly problem that doctors and governments fail to sufficiently acknowledge.

For example, a sleep-starved third mate's poor judgment contributed to the Exxon Valdez disaster and thousands of highway deaths could be prevented each year if drivers didn't continue on while drowsy.

Dement, who finds beauty in the brain waves of sleep, discusses the physiology of good and bad sleep, examines the value of dreams, and outlines principles of healthy sleep.

The author, who has studied sleep for more than 45 years, criticizes the bulk of self-help books that promise quick fixes. However, he does advise naps as short as 15 minutes to curb chronic sleepiness and includes strategies for coping with driving while tired, jet lag and working the late shift. He instructs the reader on ways to manage sleep problems and includes a three-week "sleep camp" to reduce sleep debt. The book includes a valuable list of sleep centers, Web sites and a list of 78 recognized sleep disorders.

DESPERATELY SEEKING SNOOZIN'

The Insomnia Cure From

Awake to Zzzz

John Wiedman

Towering Pines Press Inc.

$14.95, 222 pages

*

John Wiedman, a mortgage banker, calls himself a professional insomniac. Through trial and error, he found a way to get a good night's sleep and now he wants to spread the gospel. Wiedman urges fellow sufferers to prepare a sleep biography to trace the genesis of their problem and keep a sleep diary to track their progress. His cure, interspersed with e-mail communications from other insomniacs and filled with admonitions of the do-it-or-die sort, consists of a few behavioral modifications. They include arising at the same time each day, developing a routine to help switch into slower gear at day's end and relaxation techniques at bedtime. The book includes an index of Internet sites on sleep, discussion groups, message boards and chat rooms that might provide camaraderie and support in those wee small hours of the morning when all else fails.

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