Is there anything worse than insomnia? Narcolepsy for a start, says Tom Whipple ... Sleepyhead is about Nicholls’s narcolepsy, but it is also about why the insights it has given him should matter to any of us who have had sleep problems. And that’s most of us ... There is a telling passage in the preface to the book, where Nicholls said he had planned to write a book solely about narcolepsy. 'My agent and publisher encouraged me to go further.' I bet they did. Those parts of the book about his personal experience, where he expertly weaves anecdote and science, are definitely the strongest. Luckily, even when the book is broadened out to wider sleep problems, these passages are still the majority of the book.
For years, British science writer Nicholls suffered miserable daytime drowsiness before doctors made the correct diagnosis: narcolepsy. This revelation gave him a personal interest in the science of sleep, which he puts to good use in this lively, accessible overview ... A fine introduction to sleeping: when it works and when it doesn’t.
Sleepyhead takes readers through the whole world of sleep: sleep patterns, sleep biology, sleep disorders, sleep diseases, and, doggedly if fruitlessly, sleep remedies. Most of these remedies have become familiar from books and online forums in recent years, as growing numbers of people realize that they’ve allowed sleep to be crowded into a small and fractured corner of their lives. The basics are always the same: turn off your electronics well before you go to bed, keep your sleeping-place dark and cool, give yourself the number of hours you need, and be generous in estimating those hours. In short: treat your sleep with the respect it deserves, regardless of how enticing some Twitter stranger’s latest multi-part rant might seem. All the most conscientious books in the world won’t matter if over-stimulated readers don’t recognize that the over-stimulation itself is the problem, but Sleepyhead does everything it can.