How to Sleep Soundly Tonight
Barbara L. Heller
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buy *How to Sleep Soundly Tonight: 250 Simple and Natural Ways to Prevent Sleeplessness* online How to Sleep Soundly Tonight: 250 Simple and Natural Ways to Prevent Sleeplessness
Barbara L. Heller
Storey Books
192 pages
March 2001
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Barbara L. Heller's How to Sleep Soundly Tonight: 250 Simple and Natural Ways to Prevent Sleeplessness is a primer for good sleep. Obviously, like many self-help books, Heller's book has a specific audience in mind: the sleep-challenged. But many Americans have trouble sleeping. Sometimes the problem stems from major illness and health issues such as hypoglycemia, dehydration, chemical imbalance and depression. But more often than not, according to Heller, people have trouble sleeping because they make wrong lifestyle choices and because they are ignorant of the nature of sleep and basic health habits. In writing this copiously-researched book, Heller seems to be trying to stop what she considers an epidemic of sleeplessness by enlightening the reader about the spiritual, psychological and physical benefits of sleep.

Heller gives her readers a sweeping overview of sleep. No aspect of sleep is left untouched, including the mechanics, chemistry, culture and psychology of sleep. She also gives brief descriptions of various sleep disorders sleep apnea and insomnia are just two examples-- and then gives a passing nod to the emotional and physical benefits of dreaming. Once she has shown why the human brain and body needs sleep, she advances to her main topic: the many causes, effects, and many simple cures of sleeplessness. Heller believes that Americans are in an epidemic of sleep deprivation. The cause for this epidemic is that Americans generally lack a healthy respect and appreciation for sleep.

Heller argues that not only is sleep not respected, sleep is simply denigrated. Work hours, after-hours socializing, the advancement of technology, and electricity all have contributed to the American habit of curtailing sleep. Because Americans don't truly understand the benefits of sleep, rest, and dreaming and they suffer sleep deprivation without being entirely aware of their "sleep debt". Americans often equate sleep with laziness and inefficiency.

Lack of appreciation for sleep is the main cause. But other causes include hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies and imbalance, and lifestyle choices. Effects include health issues, job efficiency and depression. Using accident statistics culled from governmental resources statistics, Heller shows that the epidemic of sleeplessness can often be life-threatening. But she believes the epidemic can be halted.

Heller includes strategies for managing the sleep habits of infants, teenagers and the aging. The sleepless might have to do some experimenting before she hits on the cause of her sleeplessness. With 250 strategies liberally scattered through its pages, and packed with a lot of easily-digested information, the average insomniac will find that this is an inexpensive book with many helpful and inexpensive therapies that just might help if the reader is willing to make a change.

Some of the required changes are minor. Others, are not-so-minor. Among the minor lifestyle changes are bedtime rituals, temperature management, aromatherapy, relaxation techniques such as meditation, and exercise especially the sun-drenched walks that re-boot one's circadian rhythm. The major lifestyle changes include dietary changes --avoidance of items like additives, high fats, and allergens-- and work schedules. At the end of the book, she lists other resources such as sleep labs for those whose sleep disorders are particularly resistant.

With Heller's informative, conversational and motivational writing, many desperate readers might be inclined to use some of these simple natural ways instead of using over-the-counter drugs which may become addictive or increase the sleep imbalance. The book is not exhaustive, but it is helpful. The reader will receive an overview but will not be overwhelmed by overly- scientific or academic studies.

Those who are untroubled by sleeplessness will find interesting facts about sleep. At the most, it might be a good starting place to explore dreams, relaxation or the cultural attitudes toward sleep. For those teenagers or adults who don't who find nighttime stressful because of chronic or periodic inability to sleep through the night, this book, sprinkled liberally with quizzes, quotes and helpful advice might be helpful. All readers will learn something. Barbara L. Heller has succeeded in giving sleep the respect it deserves.

© 2002 by Carole McDonnell for Curled Up With a Good Book

buy *How to Sleep Soundly Tonight: 250 Simple and Natural Ways to Prevent Sleeplessness* online
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