Why should we read Fast Asleep? We asked the author:
Sleep is something we all do; in fact, we spend around a third of our lives in this strange, unconscious state. And yet until recently we understood very little about what sleep is for, how much we need, and the role that dreams play in improving our mental health.
The reason I particularly wanted to write a book about sleep is because, for the last 20 years, I have suffered quite badly from intermittent insomnia, to the point where I was in real despair. I wanted to find out what I was doing wrong and, of course, I wanted to find out what I could do to make it better.
I wasn’t always a poor sleeper. When I was a teenager, I could sleep any time, anywhere. I once slept in a photo booth (I had missed the last train home). Another time I slept in a telephone kiosk. I never worried about going to sleep or staying asleep, because that came naturally.
Then I became a parent, and that resulted in many nights of disrupted sleep. By the time I entered my forties, our children were sleeping through the night. But by then I had begun to show classic signs of insomnia. I had difficulty going to sleep and kept waking up at three in the morning with thoughts rushing through my head. I would lie there for what felt like hours, and going to bed, which was once a real pleasure, was something I began to approach with a sense of unease. Would this be a good night or a bad night? Would I get up feeling shattered or would this be one of those rare nights when I would sleep through until morning?
I also began falling asleep at inappropriate times, like at the cinema or at parties! Naturally enough, I wanted to understand what was going on and what I could do to get back to the days of blissful, effortless sleep.
So, I talked to lots of sleep researchers and tried a lot of self-experimenting. I discovered that much of the advice out there is either obvious or useless, but that there are surprising and highly effective ways to improve your sleep quality, ensuring you fall asleep rapidly, get plenty of deep sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. It really has changed my life.
Dr Michael Mosley, writer and presenter of Trust Me, I’m A Doctor