The Enchanted World Of Sleep

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Overview

For those who have puzzled over the mysteries of sleep, this panoramic view of modern sleep research by a pioneer in the field offers enlightening answers. Interweaving facts with fascinating case histories and anecdotes, Peretz Lavie discusses all that is known about sleep, dreaming, and sleep disorders, including landmark discoveries from his own sleep laboratory.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Unlike last year's Night by A. Alvarez, this analysis of the mechanics of sleep includes little literature or art and whatever history it contains is strictly about the people and events germane to the science of sleep. Readers will have to find their enchantment where Lavie does-in the research and facts themselves. In enthusiastic prose (even when discussing the decline of sleep research, he talks about "the golden era of earth-shaking discoveries" when "every night held the chance of a new and thrilling revelation, with researchers anxiously awaiting the morning so that they could report on the night's findings"), Lavie describes each phase of sleep, its rhythm and its disturbances; REM and dreams; sleep deprivation; jet lag; and sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea and narcolepsy. Lavie is the dean of the faculty of medicine and head of the sleep laboratory at the Technion in Haifa, and his most interesting discussions are often peculiar to circumstances in Israel: the observation that Holocaust survivors who adjusted well to life in Israel were less likely to remember dreams (any dreams) than those who had not; the situational insomnia that resulted from the threat of missile attack during the Gulf war; the mystery of the Jewish narcoleptics (after extensive research, Lavie recorded only a dozen or so, 100 times fewer than expected). There are some how-to tips that seem a little out of place, and only a scientist is going to find a molded mask and an air compressor worn to correct sleep apnea "so simple as to be pure genius." But for those who want to know what happens when the ability to "know" is suspended, this is a clear and earnest introduction. (May)
Library Journal
Lavie, who received most of his professional training in the United States, is currently dean of the medical faculty and head of the Sleep Laboratory at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. In this wonderfully detailed and engrossing account, Lavie describes our historical fascination with sleep and reviews notable research in the field. Among the topics he covers are the physiological changes that occur during a normal period of sleep, sleep disorders, the purpose of dreams, and the "evolution" of the sleep cycle from birth to old age. His discussion of what a patient undergoes during a typical night in the sleep lab is especially compelling. This excellent overview of the sleep process is both authoritative and elegantly written. Highly recommended for students and for general readers in public and academic libraries.-Laurie Bartolini, Legislative Research Unit, Springfield, Ill.
Kirkus Reviews
An entertaining albeit at times rather academic discussion of what research has uncovered about the nature of sleep and sleep disorders.

Lavie, a sleep researcher and dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology, is clearly enthralled with his subject, and his enthusiasm shines through the sometimes stilted presentation. The author gives a brief history of the young field of sleep research—the first sleep recordings of brain-wave activity were conducted at Harvard in 1935, and the discovery of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the sleep of dreaming, was not made until 1953—describes what goes on in a sleep laboratory and outlines what science has learned about biological clocks, dreams, the sleep of animals, and sleep deprivation. Memorable facts emerge: The dolphin, it seems, sleeps with half its brain awake, and humans can go without food longer than without sleep. In the second half of the book Lavie concentrates on sleep disorders and their treatment. His discussion of insomnia includes a fascinating account of research conducted in Haifa during the Gulf War, which concluded that while people were afraid to go to sleep for fear of missing the warning alarm of a Scud missile attack, once they fell asleep, they slept normally. Lavie describes the use of phototherapy, or light therapy, in the treatment of jet lag and sleep timing disorders; mechanical solutions to the problems of sleep apnea, in which the sleeper stops breathing; and the strange malady of narcolepsy, which is marked by sudden, uncontrollable attacks of daytime sleep. For parents, there are explanations of children's sleep patterns and advice on dealing with their sleep problems, and for the elderly, there are cruel truths about the fragility of sleep in old age.

An eye-opening trip through the land of sleep by a thoroughly professional guide.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300074369
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 286
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Read an Excerpt




Foreword


Every night the story of sleep, which is as old as time itself, unfolds before us.

More than three billion years ago, evolution discovered the biological clock of blue-green algae, a clock which would force us to fall asleep in a regular cycle even if we were imprisoned forever in total isolation.

Some five hundred million years ago, during humankind's developmental process, the homeostatic mechanisms which prevent us from remaining awake for prolonged periods were created in the vertebrates. About two million years ago, neurobiological mechanisms helped create the dream condition which from that time on has played a major role in human culture.

It was the dream experience which evoked the assumption of duality between body and soul and which, apparently, became the catalyst for the creation of the concepts of "eternal life" and "God."

Finally, in 1879 Thomas Alva Edison invented the light bulb and became responsible, quite inadvertently, for the myriad discomforts which derive from the incompatability between our sleeping time and the substitution of light for darkness. The various constraints which sometimes force us to remain awake at night are the root cause of the vexing divergence between the internal human clock, which continues to deny Edison, and the dictates of modern society. With extraordinary eloquence based upon a vast store of professional knowledge and innovative concepts of the physiology of sleep and dreams, among them that of the "forbidden zone for sleep," Peretz Lavie tells us the story of what is contained in a single night's sleep.

Although I am unable to summarize Lavie's contribution to the study of sleep here, the opportunity I have been given in these few inadequate preparatory remarks are an expression of my great admiration for both this wonderful book and its author, who is one of the most talented pioneers in the study of sleep and dreams.

Michel Jouvet


Introduction


In my various encounters with people, I am frequently asked the unavoidable question "What do you do?" and then find myself hesitating for a few seconds before replying, "I am engaged in the study of sleep."

My hesitation stems from the fact that experience has taught me that there are two responses to my reply. The first is usually accompanied by a burst of laughter: "The study of sleep? What needs to be studied about sleep?" This is usually followed by a reflex yawn, with which my questioner seems to be telling me, "I, too, study the subject occasionally."

The second response is a prompt request for advice and medication to combat snoring, insomnia, or other sleep-linked problems.

When my grandfather — a farmer who tilled the land with every fiber of his being — first heard that I intended to devote myself to the study of sleep, he tried to convince me to look for a more "useful" profession. "What can a man achieve in his life if he is occupied with sleep?" he argued vigorously.

It is sometimes difficult to convince people that sleep is an enthralling subject, but it is my hope that readers of this book will end up feeling as I do.

(Continues...)


Excerpted from The Enchanted World of Sleep by Peretz Lavie. Copyright © 1996 by Yale University Press. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
1 Sleep and Death 1
2 Brain Waves 8
3 Nathaniel Kleitman 18
4 The Rhythm of Sleep 26
5 The Twenty-five Hour Day 35
6 From Sun Clocks to Biological Clocks 54
7 Dreams: Creatures of the Brain 65
8 Alfred Maury and the Dream of the Guillotine 76
9 Dreaming as a Separate Reality 89
10 Do Fish Dream? 98
11 The Need for Sleep 111
12 The Eccentricity of REM Sleep 129
13 Sleep Centers 151
14 Sleep Medicine: The First Steps 161
15 Treating Insomnia 174
16 The Physical and Medical Causes of Insomnia 184
17 Disorders in Sleep Timing 189
18 Children Who Refuse to Sleep 205
19 Excessive Sleepiness, or "In the Arms of Morpheus" 216
20 Narcolepsy: Reversal of the Natural Order 234
Epilogue 243
References 247
Index 263
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