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The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep (Harvard Medical School Guides) Paperback – October 16, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Put your sleep problems to rest with this proven six-step plan

How many times have you heard it's important to get a good night's sleep? It sounds simple, but it isn't always easy. Now one of the nation's leading sleep experts gives you a step-by-step program for overcoming sleep problems from insomnia and snoring to restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

Dr. Lawrence Epstein of Harvard Medical School reveals his proven six-step plan to maximize your nights and energize your days. He explains the health benefits of sleep and identifies signs of sleep problems as he gives in-depth advice on how to:

  • Turn your bedroom into the optimal sleep environment
  • Finally overcome insomnia
  • Silence buzz-saw snoring
  • Relax restless legs
  • Deal with daytime exhaustion
  • Determine if sleep medication is right for you
  • Improve your sleep by improving your child's sleep

About the Author

Lawrence Epstein, M.D., is the regional medical director for the Harvard-affiliated Sleep HealthCenters and an instructor at Harvard Medical School and was recently president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He lives in Boston.

Steven Mardon is a professional writer who specializes in health topics.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harvard Medical School Guides
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (October 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071467432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071467438
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Barry Parker on December 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
As part of the Harvard Medical School Guides, this book comes with considerable stature. It begins with an excellent chapter on the ABC's of sleep in which the science of sleep is discussed. In particular, the various types of brain waves and stages of sleep are examined. The following chapter deals with how much sleep we need; the author states that on the average Americans get 6.9 hours a night, and needs about 7.5. He emphasizes however, that there is a relatively large range in people. A particularly interesting chapter is one on sleep "myths," and one of the myths he explores is whether or not you need less sleep as you age.
A central feature of the book is a 6 step plan for better sleep. This includes such things as a healthy lifestyle, maintaining good sleep habits, and watching for sleep sabateurs. He also has a long section on various sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea,and narcolepsy, and he does a good job of discussing each. In particular, he suggests treatments for each.
His discussion of sleep medications is more complete than those in most sleep books. He talks about most of the medications on the market, both over-the-counter and prescription, and he give his opinion of many of them. Like most sleep specialist, he does not strongly recommend sleeping pills, but points out the they do have their place. He also discusses herbs such as valerian and melatonin.
Overall the book contains a lot of useful information, and of course the author is a sleep specialist. It contains a more detailed discussion of the science behind sleep than "Good Night" by Michael Breus, and in general compares well with it. Although the two books cover many of the same topics, they compliment one another. One slight drawback is that it has no bibliography.
Barry Parker Ph.D. Author of "Feel Great Feel Alive."
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Sherman on May 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
There are a lot of sleep books out there, but this one is unique in presenting the latest research in a readable style. And it covers a wide variety of topics, from infant and child sleep patterns to problems common in seniors ... and everything in between. Whether you suffer from sleep problems yourself or struggle with a snoring partner, a colicky baby, or a sleep-deprived teen, you are bound to find answers here. My whole family bought this book-- three generations -- and we all sleep better now.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Jason Linder on July 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an insomniac, I purchased this book desperately looking for help and answers. Luckily I bought it along with two other books, which I would recommend a lot more, "Zen Sleep: Enlightenment for a good night's rest" and "No more sleepless nights." These books did give me a lot to work with regarding my insomnia, which is primarily mental. They discuss how a good night's sleep isn't actually necessary to live well and be successful (which paradoxically mollified my sleep struggle by taking it off its pedestal). Many people, like Albert Einstein, slept poorly and infrequently and still accomplished amazing things. It's not about sleep but how we perceive it and insist on controlling it time after time.

On the other hand, this absurdly pathologizing book takes a totally medical model stance and goes into detail about the consequences of not sleeping well and how the body doesn't adapt to poor sleep, which just made me worry more. If a busy mind keeps you up at night, this book is not for you. It just gives general common sense advice about not having caffeine, keeping a silent and dark room to sleep in and blah blah. Any google search on what's needed for good sleep replaces the need for this book.

I would recommend this book, possibly, to people who have insomnia for other reasons than a busy, agitated mind on over-drive. Maybe it can help with other sleep issues like sleep apnea, which less people have. It's just super medical and focuses on how baleful not sleeping enough can be which accomplishes generating fear and more of the same worrying and rumination without providing an creative tools or remedies.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Donald S. Masler on December 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
excellent coverage of normal sleep physiology. great on normal sleep needs, ways to recognize deficits (which can be sneaky) and ways to improve the chances for adequate sleep. common sleep disorders - recognition and treatment. a wonderful primer on all aspects of sleep health. some surprising statistics on the public health aspects of sleep: you will be amazed at how many people are affected by problems with sleep and how these affects manifest themselves.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ronald W. Bruton on March 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have sleep apnea and have been struggling to adapt to the CPAP mask. I've questioned the whole business of sleep therapy and whether using the CPAP mask every night for the rest of my life was justified or effective.
Dr. Epstein's book lays it on the line. It appears to be a remarkable summary of the research, making the case for sleep therapy of many kinds, but is especially strong on sleep apnea.
I really got the idea that the book was written on two levels. First, it is authoritative enough for MD reading. Second, it is clear enough for patients to read.
My mental struggle with the CPAP therapy has been going on for two years. After reading this book, the prospect of wearing the mask for the rest of my life doesn't seem onerous at all. Reduced risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and car collisions.
There are many other important topics addressed as well. And its hard to imagine a better source.
Invaluable.
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