SLEEP SOUNDLY EVERY NIGHT, FEEL FANTASTIC EVERY DAY
By Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg
I did an extensive research about how to sleep more soundly and regularly when I wrote my book A Plan for Life. In the chapter on HEALTH I include a considerable amount of information and resources. But I learned several new things by reading Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg’s new book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day.
Dr. Rosenberg is the Medical Director of the Sleep Disorders Center in Prescott, Arizona and is board certified in sleep medicine, pulmonary medicine, and internal medicine. He writes a popular newspaper column about sleep disorders and has been an expert contributor to several magazines and TV shows. So, he has the creds.
The book is very well laid out and easy to read. Like most readers (I presume) I found myself skipping around and reading whatever interested me. In the end I read the entire book. Dr. Rosenberg has accomplished the delicate hat trick that few authors can accomplish…he has presented material that is often rather technical, but made it very easy to read for the lay person.
The book begins with a Sleep Disorder Checklist. The results of this brief test becomes your baseline for understanding and acting upon the information presented in the book.
Part One is, naturally, an introduction to sleep and its value. Dr. Rosenberg points out how the quality of sleep affects nearly every aspect of your life…from your ability to think to emotional balance to health. Yet 30% of Americans get less than six hours of sleep a night (seven to nine hours is recommended), according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Lack of sleep can have very serious consequences. You are 48% more likely to develop or die from heart disease, 15% more likely to develop or die from a stroke, and sleep deprivation can seriously compromise your immune system.
Several tips on improving your sleep are provided. Many of these you may have read before, but there is a lot of new information. Few people know that the color of your room can affect your ability to sleep. Blue rooms offered the best color environment to lasting sleep…7 hours and 52 minutes. Pale yellow also scored well. Green was in third place and produced an average sleep length of 7 hours and 30 minutes (nearly half an hour less than a blue room). Reducing “blue” light though helps create better sleep. The blue light from computers, smartphones, and TV can disrupt the production of melatonin (necessary for sleep) and increase stimulation. Other tips like taking a warm bath before bedtime (it helps internal body temperature to drop, signaling the body to enter sleep), and avoiding caffeine later in the day, are included.
Part Two explores the various sleep disorders…or dysomnias, as they are called. There are 30 altogether and Dr. Rosenberg addresses the five most prevalent disorders: restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement syndrome, insomnia, circadian rhythm disorder, and sleep apnea. He provides a description of the symptoms of each disorder and steps to take to alleviate them.
In a question/answer format the author recounts the stories of actual patients who have suffered from a sleep disorder and provides answers. I learned that there seems to be a connection between ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and restless leg syndrome (RLS). In one study 39% of the RLS patients were also diagnosed as having ADHD, compared to a control group that had less than 15%. There also appears to be a correlation between varicose veins and RLS. Another study found that people who suffered from fibromyalgia were 10 times more likely to have RLS.
The author explains how poor sleep hygiene can lead to insomnia. Counterproductive habits such as viewing the blue light from a laptop late at night can disrupt the natural circadian rhythm so badly that it is virtually impossible to get to sleep. A problem for those who smoke is that nicotine is a major stimulant. So a cigarette before bed will disrupt sleep. If insomnia isn’t controlled it can develop into chronic insomnia (10% of the population).
There are many causes of insomnia and just as many treatment modalities. Dr. Rosenberg explains them all in easily understood laymen’s language. However, he keeps the reading easy with short paragraphs, many subheads, and a nice visual layout to the book.
I found the chapters on Sleepwalking and Night Terrors…and Sexsomnia (a problem I had never heard of before) to be fascinating. More than 8 million Americans are prone to sleepwalking. Some people have even “sleepwalked” in their car…driving miles without being fully awake or conscious.
Imagine making love in the middle of the night and realizing your spouse is fast asleep. Well, some married folks might say their spouse is asleep during sex all the time! Seriously though, sexsomnia is a sleep disorder recognized by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It’s a “parasomnia,” a complex behavior that occurs during non-rapid eye movement (non-REM sleep) and is a result of brain functioning. The higher brain functions remain asleep while the basic functions and limbic system remain active. The results can be pretty dramatic…intercourse, oral sex, even sex talk are possible while being asleep. A recent study by Stanford found that most sexsomnia patients can be treated successfully.
The chapters on sleep disorders and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) will be of interest to the hundreds of thousands of veterans and active duty soldiers who suffer from it. For many it can be a lifetime affliction…nearly 1/3 of American Vietnam War vets suffer from chronic lifetime PTSD. A study of World War II veterans showed recurrent nightmares in 60% of the subjects…40 years after the war ended. Insomnia and other sleep disorders exacerbated by PTSD must be treated by a sleep professional, as well as other healthcare professionals such as psychologists and medical doctors.
There’s much more in this excellent book, even though it’s only 250 pages long. Since in the United States approximately 50 – 70 million people suffer from chronic sleep issues, and many more have occasional sleep problems, Dr. Rosenberg has written a book that can help more than 1 in 5 people function more successfully in their lives. Unfortunately, this book is so interesting that it’s NOT a good choice if you want to read it to help you get to sleep. But the information and advice in it will.