The Promise of Sleep

By William C. Dement, MD, PhD, and Christopher Vaughan (Dell Trade, 2000)

Most U.S. adults average far less than eight hours of sleep a night, and as our brains register this deficit, we accrue a “sleep debt,” which impairs our alertness, creativity and overall quality of life.

William Dement, founder of the Sleep Disorders Clinic at Stanford, claims this condition is more chronic (and far more consequential) than most realize. Studies show that a third of traffic accidents are fatigue related, and sleep-deprived children suffer serious behavioral and academic difficulties.

To alert us to sleep’s significance, Dement reveals a number of fascinating insights: the impact of sleep debt on thought processes, the relationship between age and circadian rhythms, the risks and benefits of stimulant use, and sleep’s effect on the immune and nervous systems.

He also explains a host of sleep disorders and how their diagnoses have helped resolve many health dilemmas. Promoted as a “prescription for a sleep-sick society,” The Promise of Sleep offers more than a laundry list of sleep tips. It’s a highly informative study of an oft-neglected aspect of good health. Perfect bedside reading for your favorite sleep-deprived overachiever.

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