The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection between Health, Happiness, and a Good Nigh

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Healthy sleep has been proven to be the single most important determinant in predicting longevity-more influential than diet, exercise or heredity-but our modern culture has become a study in sleep deprivation. Technology's world without darkness wreaks havoc on our body clocks. We sacrifice sleep to meet the demands of our endless days. Our doctors regard sleep deprivation as a fact of life-and do little to promote sleep health or awareness. Meanwhile, the physical, emotional and psychological costs of our ...
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Overview

Healthy sleep has been proven to be the single most important determinant in predicting longevity-more influential than diet, exercise or heredity-but our modern culture has become a study in sleep deprivation. Technology's world without darkness wreaks havoc on our body clocks. We sacrifice sleep to meet the demands of our endless days. Our doctors regard sleep deprivation as a fact of life-and do little to promote sleep health or awareness. Meanwhile, the physical, emotional and psychological costs of our unhealthy sleep life continue to mount, largely without mention.

In The Promise of Sleep, world-renowned sleep authority William C. Dement, M.D., offers the definitive look into this unexplored but vital part of our lives, giving readers the information they need to reclaim their birthright to a good night's sleep. Drawing on his decades of experience on the frontiers of sleep science, Dr. Dement explains what happens when we sleep, taking readers on a remarkably lively tour of the sleeping body and mind. We learn of sleep's surprisingly powerful effect on our overall health, from our immune system to our psychological well-being, and see first-hand the many ways in which sleep loss and sleep deprivation can put us in harm's way, inhibit our motivation and creativity, and rob us of the vitality that makes life worth living. And he shows how the sleep awareness to be gained from such insight can be our society's most powerful weapon to combat the sleep deprivation epidemic that costs untold lives and resources each year.

Sharing wisdom gained through years of sleep lab experience, Dr. Dement gives hands-on advice on how to get the sleep we need, addressingsuch popular topics as: sleep disorders and their cures; the role of prescription and over-the-counter sleeping aids; recovery from jet lag and other temporary obstacles to a healthy sleep life; the power of naps; and more. He also offers his seven principles of healthy sleep, and tells readers how they can discover their own "sleep point" and learn how much sleep they truly need.

As insightful as Listening to Prozac, inspiring as Spontaneous Healing, and empowering as The Gift of Fear, The Promise of Sleep illuminates the little-understood "forgotten third" of our lives, and gives us the tools we need to unlock its abundant gifts for the rest of our lives.

"...explains sleep fundamentals and what happens to the body, mentally & physically, when sleep deprivation occurs...includes chapters on sleep disorders & tips about establishing a 'sleep-smart' lifestyle."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
America is in the midst of an epidemic of sleep disorders, according to Dement, a sleep researcher since 1952, the founder the world's first sleep-disorder clinic and past chairman of a commission that presented a report to Congress in 1992, "Wake Up America! A National Sleep Alert." But for all the general population knows about the principles of healthy sleep, he laments, "I might as well have been running a chain of beauty parlors for the last four decades." However, anyone who even glances through this informative and impassioned volume will know that Dement hasn't spent his time hovering over a hairdryer. The subject may be sleep, but its treatment is not soporific; with the able help of Vaughan, Dement presents the results of his and others' lifework in pithy and accessible terms. Readers will be jolted awake by a multitude of facts (sleep apnea can lead to heart failure or stroke, fatigue caused the Exxon Valdez and space shuttle Challenger disasters and motorist sleepiness accounts for 33% of traffic accidents). Besides scientific data on sleep and much advice on sleep hygiene, there are self-tests for sleepiness as well as a scenario for a restorative "sleep camp." Appendices list sleep-disorder clinics nationwide, definitions of sleep disorders and Web sites. Dement offers an outstanding book on a surprisingly overlooked subject.
Library Journal
Wake up, America! After four decades of sleep research, Dement, the grand old man in this field, wrote this book to penetrate the public consciousness with what is factually known about sleep. He states that the world is living in such a perpetual state of sleep deprivation that we have come to accept it as the norm. Dement makes a convincing case for lack of sleep being the hidden cause of many accidents and deaths, including the infamous Exxon Valdez disaster. His chilling description of the effects of apnea will motivate readers who snore to see their physicians. He also details what is known about dreams, insomnia, and rare, fascinating disorders such as narcolepsy, sometimes in exhaustive detail. The last section details how to regain the healthy sleep many remember from their childhood and includes a list of sleep centers for more serious problems. This title should be a part of all consumer health collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/98.]Kelly Hensley, Sherrod, East Tennessee State Univ Lib., Johnson City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385320085
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/16/1999
  • Pages: 524
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.69 (d)

Meet the Author

William C. Dement, M.D., Ph.D., is the world's leading authority on sleep, sleep deprivation, and the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. In 1970 he founded the world's first sleep disorders center at Stanford University. In 1975 he launched the American Sleep Disorders Association and served as president for its first twelve years. Each year since 1971 he has taught the popular "Sleep and Dreams" course at Stanford University and has written the first undergraduate textbook in the field. He was also chairman of the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, whose final report led directly to the creation of a new agency within the National Institutes of Health, the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. He lives with his family in northern California.

Christopher Vaughan is the author of How Life Begins: The Science of Life in the Womb, named as one of the best books of 1996 by the National Association of Libraries. He lives in Palo Alto, California, with his wife and two children.

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Read an Excerpt


I was extremely fortunate to be joined by my friend and colleague in sleep medicine at Stanford, the late Dr. Gèrman Nino-Murcia. To establish a baseline, we first reviewed the records of approximately 750 patients; as expected, sleep disorder diagnoses were absent. After the baseline review, Dr. Nino-Murcia and I conducted training sessions for all interested health professionals. The Walla Walla primary care physicians then began diagnosing and treating sleep disorders patients. All the cases were discussed in detail in weekly telephone conferences held with Dr. Nino-Murcia and me. Then, as the Walla Walla physicians acquired more and more expertise, only complicated and difficult cases were discussed.

Since it was the first time anything like it had been attempted, the Walla Walla Project began slowly. However, from today's perspective, the results of this project have been astounding. The Walla Walla physicians were amazed by the large number of patients they found to have serious sleep disorders. All of these patients had been seen at the clinic on multiple occasions previously, yet their sleep disorders were not recognized until the Walla Walla Project was well under way. The physicians participating in the project have since acquired the skills and experience to manage any sleep disorder entirely on their own. Three Walla Walla physicians have learned to score and interpret sleep tests. Four Walla Walla primary care physician, Dr. Richard Simon, is now a diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, and with several colleagues, has founded a fully accredited sleep disorders center. In a most touching gesture, this excellent clinical resource was christenedas the Kathryn Severyns Dement Sleep Diso
rders Center.

I am excited and gratified that sleep has now entered the mainstream of Walla Walla society as a fully qualified member of the basic triumvirate of health: good nutrition, physical fitness, healthy sleep. A sleep curriculum is being prepared for Walla Walla's two middle schools and high schools. Material covering the nature of sleep, sleep deprivation, biological rhythms, and the essentials of healthy sleep is being introduced in its three small colleges.

In addition to our work in Walla Walla, we are working nearby in Moscow, Idaho, where we have evaluated every patient in a single primary care practice, with startling results. No patient in the practice had received a specific sleep disorders diagnosis as of the end of 1996. But when we evaluated this patient population, we found that more than half of them presented obvious symptoms of one or more sleep disorders. Given these results, and assuming that the Moscow doctors are representative of those in the rest of the nation, it is clear that primary care physicians are missing important diagnoses and must fully integrate sleep medicine into the general practice of medicines.

There is one thing I must make absolutely sure that everyone understands. Primary care physicians are absolutely not responsible for the neglect of sleep disorders in America today. They are as much the victims of the lack of medical school teaching as everyone else. In my opinion, the tiny band of primary care physicians who have already tackled the sleep disorders problem head-on are heroes worthy of the highest accolades.

In Walla Walla as I write, about 2,000 seriously ill citizens have been diagnosed and treated, first at the Walla Walla clinic and in the past two years at the Kathryn Severyns Dement Sleep Disorders Center. The results of the Walla Walla project have been a mind-boggling revelation. In those suspected of having apnea, 80 percent of the sleep tests have revealed far-advanced illness. This means that these patients became ill decades ago, and as the years passed, they simply got sicker and sicker. The 80 percent figure is likely the same as would be found in other communities but such an effective sleep disorder and awareness program has not been done beyond Walla Walla.

Several thousand Walla Walla citizens have already received or will soon receive clinical salvation through treatment, and the potential for salvation elsewhere is awesome. An example: One of Dick Simon's many patients was an overweight 60-year-old who was overwhelmingly fatigued. The only thing he could do was sit around all day long, frequently dozing off in his chair. He was also in far advanced congestive heart failure. The slow failure of his heart muscle caused massive tissue swelling called edema. He could not walk one block without becoming very short of breath. When he lay down, the pressure of tissue and body fluids on the heart and lungs also made it hard to breathe. He had been hospitalized many times. The heart failure was assumed to be secondary to high blood pressure, which did not respond to treatment.

In less than a minute, Dick recognized his true condition, obstructive sleep apnea. The man's sleep test revealed a very high level of severity. He stopped breathing nearly 100 times every hour. After several weeks of treatment, this patient was reborn. He can breathe when lying down, he can walk many blocks without shortness of breath, his edema is gone, and he feels great. Of the eight medications he was taking for his heart, blood pressure, and fluid retention, he now takes only two. And each night his sleep is deep, healthy, and restorative.

After all the research I've done on sleep problems over the past four decades, my most significant finding is that ignorance is the worst sleep disorder of them all. People lack the most basic information about how to manage their sleep, leading to a huge amount of unnecessary suffering. My goal for this book is not to tell everyone about all the exciting discoveries in sleep science and sleep medicine--outstanding researchers and clinicians have filled volumes with that information. Rather, my goal is to give people the fundamental knowledge they need to change the way they sleep and live. What I am trying to do is akin to teaching the alphabet of sleep so that people can start learning to read. We are not healthy unless our sleep is healthy, and we cannot make our sleep healthy unless we become thoroughly aware of both its peril and its promise.

For nearly half a century, a huge reservoir of knowledge about sleep, sleep deprivation, and sleep disorders has been building up behind a dam of pervasive lack of awareness and unresponsive bureaucracies. We don't know how many preventable tragedies are occurring right now, today, this very instant. It is time to blow up the dam. The gentler approach of convincing authorities to lower the floodgates has not worked. Therefore, I hope and pray that this book will allow sleep knowledge to flow to the millions of people whose lives it can change--and save.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2000

    Promis yourself sleep

    The information contained was helpful in repairing my health. The Promise of Sleep represents more than a title it is a condition. The name clearly states what every person should promise himself or herself: sleep. Every person who plans to live a healthy life should read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 1999

    Dr. Dement is the Master

    Dr. Dement is a skilled, articulate researcher and professor who engages any reader--from college students to grandparents--as he explores sleep (his area of profound expertise).

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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