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The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,343 ratings  ·  194 reviews
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 sleepl ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 23rd 2019 by St. Martin's Press
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Sheri S. I have a graduate degree in clinical psychology and I thought this book was very interesting. The case studies are fascinating and I learned more abou…moreI have a graduate degree in clinical psychology and I thought this book was very interesting. The case studies are fascinating and I learned more about the range of sleep difficulties.(less)

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Petra-X Off having adventures
Like Oliver Sacks the author is both a neurologist and talented writer. Also like Oliver Sacks, but unlike most doctors and doctor-books, he does not regard the person who suffers from a disorder as being primarily the disorder. Neither of them would ever think of someone as autistic, but as a person with autism. And both of them, again quite unlike other doctors, treat the person as an equal partner in sorting out the neurological problem.

Perhaps the most interesting of all the weirdness that
4.5 "interesting, informative and compassionate" stars !!!

2020 Honorable Mention Read

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and St. Martin's Press for an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book was released in July 2019.

Dr. Leschziner is a neurologist and a specialist in a variety of sleep disorders. He comes across as humble, intelligent, compassionate and very knowledgeable about his field. He is the type of doctor that I am sure sufferers of sleep disorders are extremely
Diane S ☔
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
An interesting and thought provoking look into many sleep related disorders. I was interested in reading this because I have been having trouble sleeping, off and on, and was curious to see what would be offered in the way of information. I found it wasn't until the last chapter that this was discussed, but the actual stories presented before that chapter, were fascinating.

Sleep eating, sleep driving, sleep eating and even sleep sex. Seems like some mammals, these people are the victims of a bra
K.J. Charles
An interesting read in the vein of the Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat about the outer shores of sleep weirdness (people who sleep-ride motorbikes, or act out incredibly bizarre dreams, or have constantly shifting body clocks for no reason). The author writes with a lot of compassion and humanity about his patients, for whom it's impossible not to feel sorry--there are some utter hells on earth being lived through, and the effects of not enough sleep are utterly horrible. (Do yourself a favou ...more
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2019
Thankfully I have never had any issues in sleeping. I put my head on the pillow and almost always I am asleep within a few minutes. I sleep deeply too, I missed the entire Great Storm in 1987 and was totally oblivious to a massive lightning storm that struck an oak tree opposite where I lived. My father has always called it a short course in death…

Sleep is essential to our health, but no one can say with any conviction exactly why we need it. If we are sleep deprived then there is a finite time
Canadian Reader
Rating: 3.5

Most of us are aware of sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome. Some of us have family members who sleepwalk or sleep talk, and most of us have probably had episodes of insomnia. In this book, Dr. Leschziner covers all of these conditions and more. He also presents a number of very unusual sleep disorders that I had never heard of, providing an overview of the relevant neuroanatomy and neurophysiology in language that is accessible to the lay reader. Some of the concepts are challengi
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc
I love this book in concept, and it definitely wasn't lacking in the data or factual basis departments. However, Leschziner crafts his work in a non-popular science manner in that readability of the concepts and case studies isn't necessarily tailored to an average knowledge base.

While I did enjoy reading some of the case studies and the bizarre symptoms of the patients, as well as theories of what was causing these symptoms on a neurological level, the organization of the information was confu
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
The grumpus23 (23-word commentary) Captivating medical stories like Oliver Sacks but from the world of sleep. If you have sleep issues don't despair, it could be worse. ...more
Karen Ng
For those who misses Oliver Sack's knowledge about neuroscience and his ability to convey his knowledge into words... read this book. I haven't seen a medical doctor that is also proficient in written words in present time since When Breath Becomes Air. ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A look at sleep disorders from the perspective of a neurologist, when most of my previous knowledge about sleep, being a respiratory therapist, came from the perspective of pulmonologists. This was interesting as the author told stories of people he had as patient with unusual sleep disorders and how the problem was addressed. If you are interested in sleep or have any sleep issues you might find this fascinating. Also it is not technical so you probably with find it was reading.
Liam Semple
A collection of clinical stories (in the spirit of Oliver Sacks, who is explicitly cited in the introduction as an influence) about parasomnias from a sleep neurologist? What a fantastic idea for a book! I was excited to read this, especially after reading the indispensable Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.

Credit where it's due, Leschziner doesn't just borrow Oliver Sacks's book format—he borrows Oliver Sack's genuine care for his patients' well-being. Both men's view of th
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Nocturnal Brain by Dr. Guy Leschziner was a very inspired and well-written book. I love the easy to follow descriptions and the writing and analysis were well-researched. This book is for anyone interested in learning more about the brain. I think everyone can get something from this book and I highly recommend it.

I received a review copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, for my honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Thanks to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of The Nocturnal Brain.

This is a fascinating book about some of the most popular sleep disorders (and not so popular) most people experience at least once in their lives, such as insomnia.

The author, an expert in his field, uses case studies culled from his patients, who were kind enough to share their troubling sleep disorders.

For each patient, Dr. Leschziner offers a brief profile and character study, how he came to his diagnosis, treatment and what par
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
To be honest, not as good a read as Walker's Why We Sleep, but equally informative about the importance of sleep for the human brain and body. ...more
Jun 04, 2020 rated it liked it
If you would like to about what people can get up while asleep this is the book for you. Everything from eating everything in the house to attempting sex on a partner are just a couple of antics some people suffer while asleep. It’s interesting and bizarre
Garry Geer
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a well-written dive into the world of sleep disorders. I have no background in biology and find myself easily befuddled, but found his explanations to be succinct and helpful. I also appreciated his hearty doses of "I don't know." ...more
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
If you have ever seen any of my social media, you know I am fascinated with sleep - the lack thereof, interruptions to, efficacy, purpose, dreams etc. This collection of case studies was similarly fascinating. I enjoyed it very much, hopefully the science is still sound. I am proud to say I’ve never self diagnosed myself with fatal familial insomnia. So I’m not a complete hypochondriac.
Hazel Bright
Aug 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
Too much blather.
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The way in which the human brain functions during sleep still remains largely a mystery. But the things we already know are quite fascinating. In The Nocturnal Brain, Dr. Guy Leschziner, neurologist, describes some real-life instances of sleep gone wrong - and by that, we mean everything from a disrupted circadian rhythm to people whose brain can be simultaneously asleep and awake.

During every fa
Ryan Alsaihaty
Each chapter is themed around one sleep disorder/condition in which the author talks about a specific real-life case (or several) that he's seen in his sleep clinic while also scientifically discussing the relevant sleep disorder/condition in terms what it is, how it occurs, why it occurs, and how it's treated. This route taken in this book is similar to Oliver Sacks’s approach in his books, and in fact Sacks is an inspirational figure to the author as he mentions in the introduction.

Monica Willyard Moen
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
First and foremost, this is a book about people with sleep disorders, not a book about diseases themselves. This book feels like an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guided tour of the human mind, how sleep works, and what can happen when our ability to sleep breaks down. I especially like how the author treats the patients and their stories in this book. He emphasizes them as people instead of emphasizing their disorder as being their defining characteristic. It’s a fine point, and it’s an importa ...more
Adam Clark
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I like that this book was very much in the vein of Oliver Sacks. I listened to the audiobook, which was read by the author and his voice is pleasant and he seems kind and passionate. There is a bit of a lull in the middle with some repetition (as noted by other reviews), but I think the book finishes strong.
Carrie Lynn
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was such an interesting book- diving deep into extreme sleep disorders and giving us a peek into how people who have them are effected.
The beginning is heavy on science but so necessary to understand and appreciate the rest.
Some extreme moments were mentioned casually and I had to stop to lift my jaw off the floor.
If sleep disorders and syndrome interest you this is a good one.
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
A book that is more technical than mainstream, the Nocturnal Brain, is a well-written and approachable book about sleep disorders. Each chapter is devoted to a major sleep disorder with examples and anecdotes drawn from case histories. It could be useful for people who have sleep issues and are wondering what ails them. It can also be fascinating reading for someone who is interested in medical issues related to the brain and sleep.
Chaitalee Ghosalkar
Oct 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Since I suffer from mild forms of at least two of the disorders mentioned in the book, my vested interest while reading this was obvious. However, I had to caution myself that if I was reading this in order to find a cure, I would come out disappointed. Instead- as I came to realize from the first case- this is about knowing more about a particular sleep disorder, its manifestations, and how family support is significant for a patient (given that he or she is asleep and has no memory of their 'a ...more
Aug 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Details on rare diseases (disorders), maybe essential to construct the core concept of the book, go beyond my curiosity, appear tedious to me, whom Chapter 13 Inception is the most relevant with.
Hypothesis, insufficient evidence, temporary “don’t know” answer and shape the understandings.
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating read on sleep. More than secret, there is just lot of pop culture influence on how we understand sleep and older theories that hamper someone from getting help or get the wrong kind of assumptions on sleep related problems.

Interestingly, I have had only 3 hours of sleep and woke up at 1:30 AM only to read this book in one sitting on Kindle device. I pretty much tick everything the author says not to do. But insomnia.
Jon L
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Considering sleep medicine
Sep 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting look at the many ways our sleeping life can go awry. The writing is not quite as compelling as in some other books about the brain's weird and wonderful activities that I've read (at times a bit too scientific), but it certainly made me grateful for every good night's sleep I've had. ...more
Courtney Lane
Feb 18, 2021 rated it liked it
Parts of it were very interesting and the case studies were helpful but overall not what I was hoping for.
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Guy Leschziner is a consultant neurologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals in London, where he leads the Sleep Disorders Centre, one of the largest sleep services in Europe, and a reader in neurology at King’s College London. He also works at London Bridge and Cromwell Hospitals. Alongside his clinical work, he is the presenter of the Mysteries of Sleep series on BBC Radio 4, is editor of the fo ...more

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