Sleep difficulties affect millions of people—and the problem is getting worse. The deluge of sleep advice out there, referred to collectively as “sleep hygiene” rules, consists mostly of isolated recommendations for things not to do, such as: Don’t drink coffee close to bedtime. Don’t watch TV in bed. Despite the popularity of these old rules, Dr. Rafael Pelayo tells us, sleep hygiene alone is rarely effective in helping people with serious sleep problems. We need new rules that reflect the growth of knowledge in sleep science and can effectively improve our health.
Pelayo’s approach is to first take a step back and teach us how sleep works. He explains that nobody sleeps through the night; that the need for sleep is biological, but the way we sleep is learned; how much sleep you actually need each night, and that you can’t get by with less. Then, once readers understand sleep and why it’s so essential to our health and well-being, he offers a clear path to better sleep, with a flexible approach that will work for anyone. He offers a strategy for combatting jet lag: use your circadian rhythms to your advantage by maximizing your exposure to daylight. He advises you to think of napping like snacking: snacks are fine to tide you over during long stretches between meals, but if snacking too much or too late keeps you from eating dinner, it’s a problem—same goes for naps and a good night’s sleep! And he cautions that alcohol is a double-edged sword: it may help you fall asleep, but it also disrupts your sleep cycle. The information in this friendly, accessible book will help readers sleep better, wake up refreshed, and have a healthier life.