SLEEP PROBLEMS by Diane Holloway Cheney


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A guide focuses on alleviating insomnia through diet, exercise, and self-management. 

Prolific author and psychologist Cheney’s (Autobiography of Lee Harvey Oswald, 2008, etc.) inspired book opens with a personal history of her medical training in Dallas. She relates how her work treating patients with psychoactive medications radically differed from her research into sleep disorders and the discovery of natural remedies to treat them. From the manual’s depth, it’s clear that the author went much further than just exploring the consequences of sleep deprivation. Cheney’s expansive narrative is loaded with intriguing nuggets about sleep throughout human history, children and naptime, dreaming and REM cycles, and how family snoozing arrangements vary widely across global cultures. The text doesn’t skimp on the artfulness of slumber either. Poetry, literary references, and accessible, uncomplicated sweet and savory recipes, some from as far back as the Elizabethan era, share space with practical advice on how to improve sleep through diet and changes in personal patterns. The author’s guide expands further to decipher the fascinating cycles of light and darkness as related to Earth’s distance from the moon, the complexities of circadian rhythms, and the many catastrophes that have been blamed on a lack of quality sleep, like 1986’s Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster in 1989, and, more recently, the 2016 crash of a New York City commuter train that caused one death and more than 100 injuries. Cheney notes that sports teams are now commissioning “sleep physicians” to help keep players’ health and field performances at ideal levels. The negative effects of insomnia and sleep deprivation are also being studied, she notes, through the work of critical response and rescue personnel like firefighters, police forces, and emergency medical professionals. The narrative eventually circles back to dispense more wisdom on enhancing the quality and duration of sleep, which will prove most beneficial to those who find themselves unexplainably exhausted throughout the day. While her recommendations don’t break any new ground, they indeed serve as worthy reminders of the importance of getting optimum rest. She advocates consuming herbal tea close to bedtime to stimulate slumber and eating several easy, sleep-inducing snacks that produce melatonin or tryptophan. These suggestions may turn out to be effective alternatives to more traditional drug therapies.  

History, lore, and valuable advice blend in a sleep manual that promotes a productive life.   

Pub Date: June 15th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-5320-2505-1
Page count: 436pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020