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Sleep Thieves Paperback – April 3, 1997
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From Library Journal
While Coren's (psychology, Univ. of British Columbia) main thesis is that we Americans are becoming an ever-more-exhausted and accident-prone society due to "sleep debt," his fascinating book is also an in-depth look at this mysterious activity in which we all must, by nature, engage. Coren, author of the best-selling The Intelligence of Dogs (LJ 3/15/94), sees much peril in the fact that we are sleeping less, sleeping oddly, and think we can get away with it. He takes the reader on a journey into the world of sleep, keeping the scientific jargon to a manageable minimum without sacrificing the integrity of his work. One is impressed with the facts he lays out, though he makes clear that sleep remains a necessary but still very mysterious realm of human experience. After taking us through chapters detailing what scientists have come to know about sleep and the sleep experience, he tackles sleep problems, including insomnia, and details with alarming anecdotal and statistical evidence what progressively less sleep is buying us, both as individuals and as a society. Many chapters also offer tips, hints, and questionnaires dealing with different aspects of sleep. This is a well-written, easy-to-understand book on a complex scientific subject to which everyone can relate. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.?David M. Turkalo, Suffolk Univ. Law Sch. Lib., Boston
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Coren conveys a vast amount of information about sleep with a lively feeling for the research that amassed it. He explores the basic body cycles and their effects on sleep, and he describes the human "internal clock" and the confusions arising from adjusting its 25-hour cycle to the requirements of the 24-hour day. His main theme, though, is sleep deprivation. The average person should sleep between 9 1/2 and 10 hours a night, it seems--a need Coren stresses by citing many effects of lessened sleep time, one of the most striking of which is the increase in fatal accidents during the days following the spring change to daylight saving time (there is a corresponding decrease when standard time resumes in the fall). As some frightening stories Coren tells attest, long-distance truck drivers, medical interns and residents, and nuclear plant workers especially suffer from lessened sleep. As Coren stresses elsewhere, sleep is also a vital factor in the body's ability to fight off disease. Despite the topic, few will fall asleep reading this book. William Beatty --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Lighter in tone, and much more accessible to the most techno- or medio-phobic of lay readers is Sleep Thieves by Stanley Cohen. While Cohen's book does not have the same claim to impartial accuracy of the researcher, it gains ground by its engrossing style and an ability to merge folklore with medical studies. The whole, as it appears, is then dissected, and Cohen ends up destroying as many myths as Prof. Lavie in The Enchanted World of Sleep (in many cases, the same ones). Cohen does have a purpose with his book, and that is to say that as a culture, we are running up a "sleep debt"; that is, by denying ourselves the amount of sleep that our bodies need, we endanger ourselves and others. Before he gets to this conclusion, his common ground with Prof. Lavie is visited, including studies on sleep deprivation and its results, people's perceptions of sleep, and the amount of sleep that our bodies fall into without the self-regulating clock of the sun. His conclusion is tied together neatly, with a fine work of statistical research using the time lost and gained during the change from and to Daylight Savings Time. Lack of sleep, due to cultural demands, is a major cause of accidents that are often fatal.
Cohen's book, with its amazing conclusion that lives with you, makes it obvious that "sleep debt" is not just a funny phrase, but a real problem, and one that is being ignored by almost everyone. It is time, as Cohen ironically states, for us to wake up about sleep.
There is a test you can perform in order to understand how many hours of sleep you need. It's just great.
I wish all doctors read this masterpiece and instead of giving Valium or whatever to people with sleeping disorders, were giving them advices taken from this book. Once more, thank you Mr.Coren
This book shows that this is not the case. Our western work-ethos has led us to believe that sleeping is for weaklings and that sleeping very little is a sign of discipline and diligence . This book is full of examples of the results of that attitude. As a renowned researcher into the science of sleep, the Author is able to list a considerable number of instances where a lack of sleep did not only lead to less productivity, but led to downright disasters such as the sinking of the "Exxon Valdez" or the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
I found that the book gives a real insight into the importance of obtaining enough sleep. In my case, I found it convincing enough to change some of my habits and go to bed earlier, if need be. As the author shows, a like change throughout society might safe us billions of dollars per year.