A lifelong insomniac battles the stigma attached to her disorder.
For Greene (Literature and Women’s Studies/Scripps Coll.; The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation, 1999, etc.), the frustration of insomnia goes far beyond the endless nights waiting for sleep to come, which she describes in harrowing, redolent detail. What she finds so deplorable is the fact that insomnia is largely ignored or belittled by the general public, medical professionals and even fellow sufferers. Even though sleeplessness has proven links to heart disease, diabetes, depression, weight gain and memory and concentration loss, the medical community generally labels insomnia as a symptom or syndrome, rather than a disease. Though there is no known cause or cure for insomnia, a pathetically small amount of money is allocated to sleep research. Even more problematic is how few are willing to admit their own insomnia—perhaps because patients often assume much of the burden of blame. Greene has been advised to monitor her caffeine and meal times, to increase or decrease her exercise patterns, to meditate and to engage in countless other nonmedical remedies. She has been referred to mental-health professionals, hypnotherapists and nutritionists, and has been prescribed vitamins, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication. Finally, Greene decided to take matters into her own hands, seeking out countless perspectives to find out what, if anything, works. The results are mixed. The book may prove far more effective as a wake-up call to the medical profession than as a prescriptive guide for patients, though many may find her empathetic tone helpful.
An honest, passionate and relentless quest, but at more than 500 pages, even fellow sufferers may be (perhaps happily) exhausted by Greene’s overzealous tome.