Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Review: Sleepfaring: A Journey Through the Science of Sleep by Jim Horne

Sometimes I seriously question whether or not I should be as open on here as I am about depression and OCD and therapy and all the crazy that is me.  I wonder if people I know in real life will find it and think differently of me or if I ought to be reminding myself that the internet never forgets and this could come back to haunt me one day.  But last week I was reminded why I'm open when an in real life friend came and told me she had read about my depression on here and wondered if she could tell me about hers.  Totally worth the risk.

And by now you're wondering what that has to do with a book about sleep.  Sleep has always had a huge impact on my depression, or maybe depression has had a huge impact on my sleep.  Either way, I have had periods of insomnia where I would only sleep one of every three nights and I've had periods of hypersomnia (not sure that's a word) where I slept for sixteen hours a day.  It's always been a trouble spot for me emotionally.  I get really worked up over sleeping conditions and knowing exactly where and what conditions I'll be sleeping in each night.  I also have several time consuming/inconvenient rituals that center around going to bed and being in the "right" mood for sleep.  I tend to become obsessed with how much I'm sleeping or not sleeping. 

So one of my assignments recently in therapy was to do some sleep research and find out what exactly is happening in my body while I sleep and what "normal" sleep patterns look like.  So after researching all of my options via Goodreads, this is the book that seemed to best adress various issues regarding sleep from an accessible and scientific standpoint. 

The writing fit my criteria of accessible for a non-scientist, but still academic.  I have to say though that it was fairly dry.  A lot of the information was interesting, but the author's writing made it less palatable.  It just came across very much like a textbook.  I found myself picking up anything and everything else.  It probably took me a good three weeks to finish and I typically read non-fiction of the same length in 3-4 days.

Entertainment Value
I feel like I learned a lot.  I wasn't really reading it to be entertained, I was reading it to learn whether or not I fit in with normal sleep patterns and whether or not my brain will explode if I get more or less sleep than "normal" (Spoiler alert: your brain will not explode due to over or under-sleeping).  The author spends a good portion of the book talking about how dangerous sleep deprivation can be while driving.  Which is true, but even chapters that were unrelated seemed to somehow come back to the topic.  I wanted to hear more about exactly how crazy I am compared to the rest of the world.  Apparently a lot of people drive while sleepy, but I don't, so it bored me.  And let's face it people, it's all about me.

Meh.  If you're really interested in the topic of sleep and want a fairly wide range of information/fun facts, I'd say give it a try.  I'd recommend getting it from the library though.  It was rather pricey, even in paperback, and not as interesting as I had hoped.


  1. Thanks for the review. As a fellow depressio-battler, I totally understand your concerns about sleep.

    I recently discovered a sleep app that helps you to see the quality of sleep you're getting by tracking your movements while you sleep. The idea is if you're moving, you're not in the desirable deep REM sleep. I found the dataitgenerated interesting and helpful.

    Apps are available for both iPhone and Android platform. Lifehacker had reviews of the apps in April.

  2. Oh man, don't even get me started on sleep... thought I would comment and let you know that I LOVE your openness, it's good. As you said, totally worth it.

    I know about the obsession about when and where your sleeping conditions need to be. I freak out about it a lot when we go on vacation and stuff like that. I struggle a lot with being super angry if I don't get enough sleep. Like, I could take somebody's head off because I didn't get enough sleep last night... it's scary.

    I would like to start weaning myself off ambien, did they talk about that at all in the book? I just don't like the fact that I seriously take it every night.

    Love you friend!

    1. They didn't talk about weaning off of sleeping pills, but I wish they had. I'd love to be off Ambien too, but I am really not sure the best way to do it.

  3. I second getting a sleep app. I can't say it helped me get a better sleep but it doesn't show you great stats.
    I've started to pay more attention to what I did the day of a good sleep.