Even after decades, or even centuries of trying to understand the nature of sleep, there are still many mysteries about it. It is the least respected need in our modern era, when workers are expected to stay on the job from early in the morning to late at night in order to stay in touch with globally dispersed customers and suppliers.
Remember the old Dick Van Dyke show episode where Rob tries to stay awake for 100 hours as a radio stunt? The author relates the true story of an American DJ named Piers Tripp, who stayed up for 200 hours. The motive for this stunt is not given , but the fact is that Mr. Tripp became a raving lunatic. He hallucinated and believed that his manager was going to kill him. After sleeping for 13 solid hours he was restored to almost normal, but the side effects lingered for nearly three months.
In 1859, a Chinese man was sentenced to death by sleep deprivation for the crime of killing his wife. It took nineteen days of round the clock guards who prevented him from sleeping, before he succumbed to his sentence.
Dr. James C. Paupst' 1975 work, âThe Sleep Book,â is a veritable smorgasbord of sleep information from which the reader may choose whatever works for him. There are chapters on the factual description of sleep cycles, sleep disorders, dreams, sleeping drugs, insomnia, inner clocks, sleep studies and research, and tips. He also kindly provides you with a short chapter titled âTo be read only in cases of extreme insomniaâ -- which turns out to be a compendium of literary quotes on sleep and historical notes on the role of the court dreamer, for example.
Our go-go global economy threatens our lives when it demands workers travel from time zone to time zone and from one business meeting to another. He relates the story of one patient who had a heart attack at the London airport after flying thru three time zones, working a stressful 12-hour day, and never allowing his body to adjust its inner clock. His best tip may be relating Air France's solution to jet lag for its crews: everyone stays on Paris time. Even tho it may involve going to bed as the sun comes up, they enjoy refreshing sleep because their sleep patterns are undisturbed.
The best and most practical chapter in this book is the one on rituals. The most important point in being able to sleep is programming yourself to get ready to do so, by following the same get-ready-for-bed process each night. Whether it involves a bubble bath or a cup of herb tea is not important, it is that you do these actions each night in the same order as part of your bedtime routine.
Modern life has enough stresses. Getting a decent night's rest helps you cope with them. This book, while not the last word due to continuing research, is a helpful tool to understanding how to get it.