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3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  136 Ratings  ·  25 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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Aug 07, 2013 Erika rated it liked it
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 it was amazing
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
Oct 20, 2008 Judith rated it it was ok
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
May 04, 2008 bea rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing
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
May 25, 2012 Millie rated it it was ok
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."
Nov 12, 2008 Topmar rated it liked it
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.

Aug 28, 2008 Julie rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
I found this text a fascinating addition to my drug/knee surgery/pain induced insomnia. Not that I've ever experienced anything so awful as 'real' insomnia, normally I'm one of those annoying people who fall asleep "as soon as my head hits the pillow" aside from being an annoying light sleeper who wakes up at any damn thing, but this was my companion every morning I was up at midnight or 1 or 3 or 4am icing my knee, taking a bath or popping more pain killers in the hopes of eking out a couple mo ...more
Dec 31, 2015 iarXiv rated it liked it
Shelves: english
If you suffer from insomnia or know anyone who does, this may be the book that helps you. And I don't mean help you overcome insomnia -- although some of the ideas in there might -- I mean help you know that you are not alone, not crazy, or help you understand a suffer's seemingly erratic behaviour. It's a subjective account, but this is not hidden. The author is an English professor, not a researcher in the field of Insomnia, but she has suffered this affliction for her entire life and has trie ...more
Greg Heath
Nov 02, 2010 Greg Heath rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 28, 2009 Sally rated it really liked it
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
Sep 16, 2014 Lauren rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2009 Carolyn rated it really liked it
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
Darshan Elena
Jul 07, 2008 Darshan Elena rated it it was ok
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
Sep 12, 2008 Jean-claude rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 29, 2012 Michele rated it it was ok
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
Apr 17, 2009 Holly rated it liked it
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.
May 07, 2011 Nienke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf
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.
Carrie Cooper
Oct 13, 2009 Carrie Cooper rated it really liked it
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...
May 26, 2012 Aimee rated it liked it
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!
Mar 10, 2010 Jenn rated it it was amazing
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!
Mar 03, 2013 Colin rated it it was amazing
If you're like me and struggle with insomnia, it's good to know there's others out there with the same problems.
Mar 27, 2010 Matt rated it it was amazing
I felt like I was reading my autobiography
Deepa Raghunath
Deepa Raghunath marked it as to-read
Jul 25, 2016
Spencer Jennings
Spencer Jennings marked it as to-read
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HR marked it as to-read
Jul 06, 2016
Derrick Quandt
Derrick Quandt rated it it was amazing
Jul 04, 2016
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