The discovery of rapid eye movements (REM) in sleep and their association with dreaming by Kleitman and Aserinsky in 1953 led to major research into sleep and dreaming. This encyclopedia summarizes findings on the medical, biological, and psychological facets of sleep and dreaming for the public, the student, and the researcher. It does not address the popular concept of the meaning of dreams, as does the book reviewed above.
The book's editorial board and authors are highly qualified to write about their topics, having hospital and/or academic affiliations and many publications. A list of the contributors gives their affiliations and the entries they wrote. Diagrams, tables, and graphs illustrate many of the entries, most of which have current bibliographies attached.
All entries are signed and range from approximately one-half page to eight pages. Some are divided into sections; some have multiple authors for the different sections. For example, Blindness has two parts, "Dreams of the Blind" by Nancy H. Kerr and "Effects on Sleep Patterns and Circadian Rhythms" by Heinz Martens, each with its own bibliography. No persons are included as subjects, but many can be found by using the index. While most entries concern humans, a few, such as Birds and Canine Narcolepsy, provide comparisons and discuss research that may lead to human benefits. Some fascinating and unusual entries are Early Birds and Night Owls and Short Sleepers in History and Legend. Most entries will be easily understood by the layperson, but a few are oriented more specifically toward scholars and practitioners (e.g., Suprachiasmatic Nucleus of the Hypothalamus).
The volume has extensive cross-references. A few unsigned entries briefly discuss a topic and refer the reader to other entries. For example, Environment, about a column in length, begins, "The environment can impinge upon sleep in a number of ways" and then refers to 20 articles describing them. The index is very detailed. For example, Apnea, which has recently been in the news, is a four-page entry. The index lists that entry plus three other page references for apnea itself and then lists in indented form more than 50 other citations (sometimes with multiple page references) to concepts relevant to apnea.
The Board did not find any directly comparable title. Facts On File's Encyclopedia of Sleep and Sleep Disorders [RBB Ja 1 91] has generally much shorter entries and concerns itself more specifically with sleep disorders and organizations and specialists that deal with them. Large public and high school libraries, most academic libraries, and any medical center libraries affiliated with sleep research centers will find the Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming a most welcome addition to their shelves.