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Book review

Sleep and You: Sleep Better, Live Better


This book is full of fascinating information on everything from dreams and insomnia to snoring and sleep disorders!

Sleep and You: Sleep Better, Live Better
By Diane B. Boivin
Dundurn, 2014, $22.99, 172 pages
ISBN: 978-1-45972-352-8

Sleep is one of those things in life you may not fully appreciate until you’re desperate for it. And not getting enough is something everyone has experienced, whether you’re a breastfeeding mom, a worker facing an impossible deadline, or a student studying for an important exam.

It’s also the subject of an intriguing new book by Montreal-based doctor and sleep researcher Diane B. Boivin, founder and director of the Centre for Study and Treatment of Circadian Rhythms at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute.

Sleep and You: Sleep Better, Live Better is full of information on everything from dreams and insomnia to snoring and sleep disorders. But if the idea of reading about sleep has you assuming it will put you to sleep, think again. Boivin is never soporific, even when she’s delving into complex neurological and biological mechanisms of the relaxation and recovery period that follows a waking period.

Boivin seems to have a genuine desire to help people understand sleep itself, as well as why they need it and what they can do to enhance it. She writes in an accessible tone, including fun factoids throughout. Some examples: did you know giraffes sleep for a total of about four and a half hours a day in naps lasting no more than six minutes? Or that when dolphins swim in a pod, those on the outside sleep with one eye open to spot possible predators?

Then there are other scientific findings: when someone is in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the brain is almost as active as when it’s awake, but the loss of muscle tone indicates that the person is paralyzed. Sleep deprivation of even a few hours a night affects sugar and fat metabolism, increasing the risk of being overweight. Meanwhile, women of all ages need a bit more sleep than men but are twice as likely to have insomnia.

What makes this book especially useful is that it’s a resource for the whole family, with Boivin addressing sleep-related issues among people of all ages and life stages.

Among the 10 commandments for insomniacs, for instance, are to avoid napping even if you feel exhausted during the day; banish cellphones, TVs, laptops, and iPads from the bedroom; and avoid email, work, or housework if you wake up in the middle of the night and are having trouble getting back to sleep.

With the guidance you’ll get from Sleep and You, you’ll be that much closer to sweet dreams indeed.

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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD