I was once visited by a monster. I had just woken up, facing the wall, and I saw the shadow of the demon, could feel its black, misty paw reaching over me, heard its breathing. I thought that the reason I couldn’t move was because I was too afraid, but the reason was because I was experiencing sleep paralysis and the hallucinations that come with it. I frequently have sleep paralysis. Henry Nicholls says that around half of us will experience some kind of sleep dysfunction in our lives. I’m one of those half. This year, three new books are published on sleep cycles, dreams, and disorders.
Sleepyhead: Narcolepsy, Neuroscience and the Search for a Good Night by Henry Nicholls
A writer and biologist, Henry Nicholls explores the science of disordered sleep. From a CBT course to tackle insomnia to a colony of narcoleptic Dobermans, his journey takes him through the half-lit world of sleep to genuine revelations about his own life and health. When Nicholls was twenty-one, he was diagnosed with narcolepsy: a medical disorder causing him to fall asleep with no warning.
Nodding Off: The Science of Sleep from Cradle to Grave by Alice Gregory
In Nodding Off, renowned sleep researcher Alice Gregory explores every aspect of sleep, from the different stages of sleep and how our sleeping patterns change throughout our lives, to what happens when things go wrong and getting some shut-eye becomes more of a trial than a pleasure. Using cutting-edge findings in the field, Gregory tackles the big questions, such as How do things that happen before we are even born affect our sleep, what sleep problems should raise a red flag in children, how do genes influence the way we sleep, what are the consequences of sleep problems in the elderly, and why are scientists turning to sleep disorders such as sleep paralysis to try to understand paranormal experiences?
On sale November 20th, Alice Robb draws on fresh and forgotten research, as well as her experience and that of other dream experts, to show why dreams are vital to our emotional and physical health. She explains how we can remember our dreams better—and why we should. She traces the intricate links between dreaming and creativity, and even offers advice on how we can relish the intense adventure of lucid dreaming for ourselves.
Also recommended: (audio) “The Science of Sleep,” The Infinite Monkey Cage. Richard Wiseman (author of Night School: Wake Up to the Power of Sleep) explains my (shared) experience of sleep paralysis hallucinations in several episodes.