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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  115 ratings  ·  24 reviews
I can't work, I can't think, I can't connect with anyone anymore. . . . I mope through a day's work and haven't had a promotion in years. . . . It's like I'm being sucked dry, eaten away, swallowed up, coming unglued. . . . These are voices of a few of the tens of millions who suffer from chronic insomnia. In this revelatory book, Gayle Greene offers a uniquely comprehensi ...more
Hardcover, 520 pages
Published March 10th 2008 by University of California Press (first published February 9th 2008)
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Greene is a literature professor (Shakespearean) with a lifelong intractable sleep-maintenance insomnia issue. She has over the years immersed herself in the medical research in this space as well as, it seems, all literature and thinking on insomnia. And so the book is a fascinating catalog of her more than 60 years of experience and research -- with chapters on pharmacology, on alternative medicine, on sleep clinics, and the like.

As a resource on the state of science (albeit a few years old),
Mar 26, 2014 mark rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are not in perfect health
"Insomnia" sometimes haunts me. Last night it did, after finishing this book, which is, fascinating and well written. So what is Gayle Greene's problem? She has trouble sleeping, so what? Most people do, don't they, sometimes? She takes pills and that helps her get "enough" sleep. She's happily married and successful in her career. Love and work, what else is there? I think this book is mostly about psychology; but Greene makes the case that insomnia is mostly about biology--hormones and genes. ...more
This is a study of insomnia. The author's suffering from the condition is all too apparent. She has the tone just right----somewhere between sleepy crankiness and sleep-deprived hysteria. It's hard to like this book, but it is enlightening. I thought I suffered from insomnia till I read this book and then realized I just have occasional sleep problems. The insomniacs described here are like characters from "The Night of the Living Dead". I feel so sorry for them that it's hard to criticize, but ...more
I often imagine a book promises more than it actually delivers (a friend once asked kindly, somewhat perplexed: "what were you *expecting* from 'A History of Dust'?") However, this book delivers. Gayle Greene answers all the questions that I, as a sometime-insomniac, have asked myself as I lay awake in the wee hours. She writes well and critically, as one might expect from a feminist Shakespearian scholar; she writes intelligently about the science of sleep; and she writes with welcome humor, wh ...more
May 20, 2008 Staci rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: pharmacists, medical professionals, insomniacs & friends of insomniacs
All that I have read on the subject of insomnia has said the same thing, over and over, until now. This book is written from the point of view of a sufferer of chronic insomnia, who has explored the subject from every perspective possible and finally says what no other medical article on insomnia dares to say: science doesn't know why we sleep and so why some of us don't sleep is equally a mystery. It has given me much-needed insight into my insomnia patient's struggles and seeming "overuse" of ...more
I was going back and forth between 2 and 3 stars for this book, and if GR had half stars, it probably would've gotten a 2.5.

There was some interesting information in the book, but it was drowned out by the sound of the author's whining. I know she's tired. She's an insonmiac. And I feel for her. But her surly tone went more than a little overboard. And, ultimately, the entire 400 pages were a lot of "gripe gripe gripe nothing works gripe maybe the future will see more research."
What better reading for an insomniac (at 11:30pm) than this book? Reassuring to know I'm in such abundant good company. Exhaustive research on the subject that doctors ignore and restful sleepers minimize. Identifies sleep deprivation as a factor in emotional distress, joblessness, suicide, divorce and overall humorlessness. Identifies all drugs, alternative therapies, sleep lab operations...Author is scathing, cynical, and TIRED.

As someone who suffers frequent trouble with sleep I found this a very informative book. My only reservation is that the writer focuses solely on what works for her so that chapters on methods she didn't like are scant and poorly researched. This is more a "state of the research and lack thereof" than a self-help type book.
Greg Heath
Gayle Greene's exhaustively researched "Insomniac" was certainly eye-opening for me. Equal parts memoir and collected research & analysis, it reads as both harrowing personal tale and desperate call to action. A chronic lifelong insomniac herself, Greene approaches the subject with an appropriate mix of scorn and whimsy, keeping things deadly serious but injecting some humor and optimism in as well. The book covers an extraordinarily wide range of information on the oft-overlooked condition, ...more
This is a great book for anyone who struggles with insomnia. It doesn't promise any miracle cures for this condition, but it does provide a very thorough review (from the perspective of an insomniac) of the current state of understanding of the causes and treatments for insomnia.

Gayle Greene is a literature professor who spent years researching this book, in an effort to understand her own struggle with insomnia. Her stories in the chapter about what she learned by attending sleep conferences a
My senior year of high school, I stopped sleeping at night. It wasn't uncommon for me to get maybe an hour or so between 5 and 6AM, before having to slog off to school and be a walking zombie. No one else had this problem, so I jumped to the conclusion that it was my fault. I never got any treatment, it was just something that happened. I've wanted to read a book about insomnia ever since, and i was thrilled to find this last month.

As a memoir, this was frustrating. It was hard to watch the aut
Once i got about half way through, I was having some trouble continuing to read this book. The first few chapters and the last 2 or 3 are fascinating, the middle drags and is a bit repetitive.

However, an English professor who suffers from insomnia but with no scientific background thoroughly researching and writing about this personal disorder is extraordinary. She really has done her research: attending sleep conferences, speaking to doctors of all sorts, researching treatment with drugs, behav
I very much like this book. So much info yet in terms individuals can understand. The author lends a bit of herself to the facts. Anyone with insomnia should read this. Somewhere in this book is a bit of everyone who has sleep problems.
Darshan Elena
Jul 07, 2008 Darshan Elena rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: insomniacs, their lovers and sleepmates, and popular science fanatics
Snore, snooze, and slumber when it comes to the science, this book is best when describing the author's own struggles with insomnia. I reckon that Greene would be pleased that I fell asleep (!) twenty pages into her book. It's a keeper for that simple reason. When I began this book, I startled, thinking that I was not that bad, as bad, so bad as those folks Greene introduces. But no. I'd just had several excellent nights. Alas! I remain insomniac... and somewhat proud of it. As a coping mechanis ...more
This is a candid review of Greene's relationship with sleep and insomnia. Anyone who has had that problem will relate with her frustrations and quest to find relief.

She brings up several interesting obervations from her research. The one I liked best was the theory that humans are not adapted to sleep in a continuous 6-8 hour stretch. Before electric illumination, apparently people used to refer to the "first sleep" followed by a period of awakeness then a "morning sleep" characterized by much
I haven't presently finished this book; going through it is arduous, and perhaps as frustrating as experiencing the subject firsthand is. It sets the context wonderfully, I suppose one could say. I've got a handful of sleep problems myself (to the point where I stopped driving altogether for some time because I kept falling asleep for microseconds at the wheel) but I don't think it necessarily warrants this much moaning. Ah, well, that's what I get for selecting an autobiographical account over ...more
This book was pretty interesting...all about people who suffer insomnia and how little is known about the disorder. The author has struggled with it her whole life and is desperately trying to determine what causes it. The book consists mainly of her research of the disorder in the different aspects of it - medically, psychologically, physically, etc.
Though it's a little old by now, I recommend this book to anyone who is or lives with an insomniac. There's really nothing else out there like it for insomniacs, and it sums up the plight of insomniac research quite well.
anyone who is suffering from chronic insomnia, or loves someone who suffers from it, needs to read this book! good argument for the possibility that it is a physiological problem, as opposed to a psychological one...
Interesting and entertaining read however If you don't have insomnia you may live in terror of it after this. There is actually a fatal insomnia disease!
Thank you, Gayle Greene, for writing the best book ever written on insomnia. It's rarely taken seriously and this book is remarkable.
Jul 29, 2009 Jill marked it as to-read
Alright, I haven't read this book. I'm just an insomniac. It's been a terrible 3 days without sleep and I can't take it!
If you're like me and struggle with insomnia, it's good to know there's others out there with the same problems.
I felt like I was reading my autobiography
Jana Crosby
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