Title: The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience and the Secret World of Sleep
Author: Guy Leschziner
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Page Count: 368
Publication Date: 2019
Category/Genre: Non Fiction, Science, Mental Health, Health, Sleep, Sleep Disorders, Case Study
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.98)
My Rating: ★★★★☆(3.8)
For Dr. Guy Leschziner’s patients, there is no rest for the weary in mind and body. Insomnia, narcolepsy, night terrors, sleep apnea, and sleepwalking are just a sampling of conditions afflicting sufferers who cannot sleep–and their experiences in trying are the stuff of nightmares. Demoniac hallucinations frighten people into paralysis. Restless legs rock both the sleepless and their sleeping partners with unpredictable and uncontrollable kicking. Out-of-sync circadian rhythms confuse the natural body clock’s days and nights.
Then there are the extreme cases. A woman in a state of deep sleep who gets dressed, unlocks her car, and drives for several miles before returning to bed. The man who has spent decades cleaning out kitchens while “sleep-eating.” The teenager prone to the serious, yet unfortunately nicknamed “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome” stuck in a cycle of excessive unconsciousness, binge eating, and uncharacteristic displays of aggression and hyper-sexuality while awake.
With compassionate stories of his patients and their conditions, Dr. Leschziner illustrates the neuroscience behind our sleeping minds, revealing the many biological and psychological factors necessary in getting the rest that will not only maintain our physical and mental health, but improve our cognitive abilities and overall happiness.
The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep is akin to Oliver Sack’s “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” where each chapter is a different case study and examination into various patients that have various conditions and disorders of the brain.
Dr. Leschziner has a very empathetic approach with his patients that is apparent and often describes his and their frustrations when trying to diagnose or discover root causes.
He delves deep into neuroanatomy and neurophysiology in language that is accessible and creates a well-rounded glimpse into the person, the disorder, and the brain.
I thoroughly enjoyed and was fascinated by many of these cases and am now very grateful that I do not suffer any sleep disorder that would impact my life and relationships to such a degree that others have.
Incredibly insightful, I highly recommend it to anyone that is curious about sleep, the brain, or case studies.