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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Howard M. Kravitz, DO, MPH (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This book is, according to its authors, a description of yet another, but unique, epidemiological study of sleep and the first book devoted to this topic.
Purpose: The purpose of this book is to present, "(F)or the first time, in depth information on the epidemiology of normal and insomnia sleep" (p. x), "to gain knowledge about sleep that did not previously exist" (p. 3), in a sample that features "ethnic diversity." The book is based on research by Dr. Lichstein and associates, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging and Tennessee state agencies, and involved two main racial/ethnic groups, Caucasians and African-Americans (69.8% Caucasian, 28.9% African-American, 0.9% Asian, 0.1 % Hispanic, 0.3% missing ethnicity; p. 68). Dr. Lichstein is an experienced sleep researcher and professor of psychology.
Audience: The targeted audience is sleep researchers, clinicians, health and clinical psychologists, gerontologists, epidemiologists, and advanced students — a truly broad-based and eclectic audience. As a psychiatrist and psychiatric epidemiologist, I would add these two groups.
Features: In seven chapters, the authors present the rationale for the study and describe its distinctive characteristics (chapter 1); comprehensively review the epidemiological literature on self reported "insomnia" through 2002 (chapter 2); describe their survey methods (chapter 3); present detailed data with lots of tables and figures on normal sleep (chapter 4) and insomnia (chapter 5) in their whole sample and separately for the African-American subsample (chapter 6); and summarize their main findings (chapter 7). Black-and-white line figures are clear and easy to read, with informative captions. A 38-page appendix following chapter 4 includes 67 tables of descriptive data on and analysis of the full and normal samples. The book ends with an appendix of abbreviations and acronyms, the references (which include a few from 2003), and separate author and subject indexes.
Assessment: This is an interesting compilation of the authors' research data together with a literature review on self-reported insomnia through 2002. It is a prevalence study of insomnia in a community sample, a laudable attempt to define normal/normative sleep and insomnia based purely on self-report. As such it fills an important niche in the epidemiological study of sleep — these rich survey questionnaire data should satisfy the appetite of clinicians and researchers alike, and point the way toward further work in understanding sleep and refining methods for studying it. But the reader should not overinterpret these data — self-perceptions require objective validation. As the authors note, this book is not the final word on the epidemiology of sleep — however, it's a good place to start, "another peek into the mystery of sleep" (p. 216).