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The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explains the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night's Sleep Hardcover – March 16, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; 1 edition (March 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385320086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385320085
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

"We are a sleep-sick society," says William C. Dement, M.D., Ph.D. According to Dr. Dement, "sleep science" has yielded a great deal of scientific knowledge about sleep--yet the general public, and even doctors, aren't aware of it. Sleep disorders are routinely misdiagnosed or ignored, sometimes resulting in medical tragedy and death, frequently leading to chronic exhaustion. In The Promise of Sleep, Dr. Dement aims to remedy that by making the latest sleep information accessible to health professionals and lay readers. He describes the sleep cycle and gives a short history of sleep research. Then he dives into clear and detailed explanations of concepts and conditions we've all heard about, but that few of us understand: sleep debt, biological clock, circadian rhythm, insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy. He discusses why we need sleep (sounds obvious, but it isn't) and the role of dreams. After 300 pages of sleep facts, Dr. Dement teaches you how to "reclaim healthy sleep" in your own life. You learn to assess your personal sleep situation by keeping a sleep diary, measuring your sleep debt, and evaluating your risk of sleep disorders; find appropriate treatment; manage sleep crises; and adopt a "sleep-smart lifestyle." A three-week "sleep camp" program at the end helps you put all the strategies together. This book will put you to sleep--and that's meant as praise! --Joan Price

From Publishers 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. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

If you read only one book on the subject, read this one.
The Mad Doctor
By the time you have read this book you will be amazed by how little you knew about something so important as your sleep.
Amazon Customer
It is easy to read, very informative, and also entertaining.
Jerry Lilly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

141 of 146 people found the following review helpful By David H. Peterzell PhD PhD on July 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
"The Promise of Sleep" is the eminent Dr. Dement's magnum opus for the masses. It contains more information than most of us will ever want to know about sleep. It is a long and intricate book, and it reads like a grant proposal. Most of us will read the sections that apply to us, and will use the book as a reference. I didn't read the whole thing and neither did any of you. So if you plan to read the whole thing... you are dreaming. But I find myself returning to this book repeatedly, for various health-related reasons. Here I discuss the people I think will benefit from this book, and why. Then I discuss what I believe to be Dr. Dement's biases, for better or worse. Finally, I discuss some other books which you might consider in addition to, or instead of, this one.

Here are the people who will benefit from this book, and why.

1) PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TURBO-CHARGE THEIR SLEEP. You want to optimize sleep's restorative powers, and to optimize your mental functioning while awake. I believe that you are unlikely to find a better source of practical information than this book, though of course there are free sources available online. The fourth part of the book (about 125 pages) is devoted to "The Principles of Healthy Sleep." This section includes 6 chapters that include self-assessment procedures, ways to set priorities and seek professional advice, strategies for dealing with specific situations (e.g., driving, flying, difficult work schedules), ways to optimize sleep across the lifespan, ways to manage caffeine, alcohol, other drugs, diet, and exercise to improve the quality of sleep, and more. Personally, I found the tips for dealing with jet lag to be very helpful, and non-intuitive in some instances. And I've reduced my "sleep debt" significantly. And...
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105 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie on March 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yes, it's too long; and the lack of an index is frustrating. But Dement presents ideas here that need to be heard, and haven't before. Sleep is not a simple process that can be distilled into a soundbyte - and his scientist's training won't let him devolve this into a mere list of "tips to sleep better". So, it it worth wading through 450 pages? A resounding yes. My own sleep problems were helped the very night I skipped ahead to the sleep hygeine chapter (the closest things to tips in the book). My understanding of jetlag and "prime time" for creative work will help me in the future. My respect for sleep has grown and will change my decisions. My realization of how close I have been to falling asleep at the wheel is terrifyingly clear. I am sending the book to one friend who I am sure suffers from a life threatening sleep lack. And unlike the reader who found Dement's career history self serving, I hear instead a plea for more research on this vitally important subject. Fascinating, readable, likeable, surprising, and worth every minute of your time to read. Although the writer's style is easy and readable, it alone would not rate five stars. But the content is five star plus. Buy it!
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
When a friend of mine recommended that I read this book, I was slightly doubtful. I didn't really believe that a book about sleep could be all that interesting. When I did get around to reading The Promise of Sleep, however, I was really pleasantly surprised. Dr. William Dement wrote this book in a manner that neither condescends to the reader, nor confuses him or her with overly technical terms, as one might expect from the world-renowned expert on sleep. It is friendly and amusing with entertaining anecdotes form Dr. Dement's career. In this respect, the book has some autobiographical aspects to it, allowing the reader to take a look into this fascinating man's life and work. One gets the sense that this book is intended for everyone who can read it, not only for people who can't sleep at night. The sleep patterns of people of all ages are discussed: infants, children, adolescents, pregnant women, the middle-aged, and the elderly. Dr. Dement makes it clear that sleep affects every area of our lives, and he does this by providing us with fascinating, but little-known, information. For example, in spite of the fact that 9 out if 10 people are either sleep-deprived or have a sleep disorder, a large number of these cases remain undiagnosed, because most doctors are untrained in this area. And sleepy drivers have a part in about a third of traffic accidents, but few people are aware of this. It makes the reader indignant to find out about this, and the author's anger shows through as well. After all, people are dying from sleep disorders, car accidents, and industrial disasters because the public is ignorant about sleep. The Promise of Sleep serves as a self-help book as well.Read more ›
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67 of 76 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Dement knows more about sleep research than anyone, and this book should have let us all in on what he knows. It doesn't. I suspect that the problem was the publisher's pushing too hard to make it "readable" and "popular". We are given too many stories about Dement's personal life, often irrelevant to his point (by contrast-- to name a terrific science writer-- Steven Pinker's stories and anecdotes always illustrate a point). Some of Dement's ideas and key points are repeated too often; some of his other ideas need more detailing. We are talked down to. The lack of an index creates incredible inconvenience (there's an interesting comment on caffeine that I'm sure is in there somewhere but I don't know how I'll find it without reading the whole book again). Also, the lack of endnotes is unacceptable in a book of this sort (see Pinker or Jonathan Weiner for examples of how it should be done). Yes, there is a lot of insight; and as I said, the man knows more about the subject than anyone, so you will learn useful things. But I wish he'd try again, and write a book that doesn't underestimate the reader's attention span and ability. It would be much more useful.
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