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Insomniac Book May Keep You Up, But You'll Sleep Better Afterwards

Posted Dec 23 2008 9:44pm
Insomniac, a new book by Gayle Greene, who is both an insomnia sufferer and a professor, could become the "it" book for sufferers of insomnia. It is at once validating, infuriating, and instructive.

Gayle interviews sleep doctors and attends sleep conferences only to find out that insomnia is not really being studied. It is a surprisingly common condition that patients don't want to admit, for fear of being dismissed as a hypochondriac.

Personally, I never had insomnia until after I gave birth to my twins. Then, when they finally began sleeping through the night, I continued to awaken, or worse, remain awake all night in a stupor. Insomnia isn't really the issue. It's the next day when I contend with being a "mombie" -- zombie mom. At my worst, I went for a period of 3.5 months not being able to fall sleep night or day. I wanted to kill myself, which is a theme Gayle Greene mentions in the first few pages of her book. She calls it "not succumbing" to insomnia - which she explains is used as a polite euphemism for killing yourself to escape the hell. One of her interviewees estimates that 90% of suicides are due to chronic insomnia. Thanks to my twins, I did not "succumb," but I can assure you that periods of insomnia are living hell. You remain alive, but feel dead in body, mind, and spirit.

Six years later, I am harnessing the problem and have much more control over it with supplements and due to lifestyle changes - like exposing myself to the early morning light and not using my computer after 8pm (that's a tall order that I can't always abide by). I've also discovered that my chronic mono virus causes insomnia, and to the extent I can control the virus, my sleep is much improved.

I wish Insomniac had been published years ago. It's a breath of fresh air for sufferers and will be an eye-opening read for the many sleep doctors who don't really understand their patients, the condition, and its devastating consequences.

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