The Nocturnal Brain

The Nocturnal Brain: Tales of Nightmares and Neuroscience

Author: Guy Leschziner
published: March 7, 2019

The Nocturnal Brain opens a window into some of the most extreme cases of sleep disorders. Understanding these conditions can help us understand how our brain functions in healthy, normal circumstances.  

Sleep Disorders

The author built the book around a few case studies of patience with extreme sleep disorders. Unfortunately, most of these cases are untreatable, rendering the patient and his family’s life extremely difficult. Even more, in some instances, the disorder is very difficult to diagnose, due to its scarcity and extremeness. 

Guy Leschziner meets his patience after other doctors have refereed them to him. He is a sleep specialist and neurologist. Besides trying to cure or help his patience, he uses these extreme cases to understand less severe disorders. Furthermore, he tries to understand how the brain functions in normal circumstances. 

Observing how clinical cases are affected by their disorder we can understand the role and function of sleep:

“The link between your snoring, your work shift pattern, your noisy bedroom, your anxiety and your experience of sleep is so much more direct: these factors so much more fundamental to the difference between feeling rested and alert or exhausted beyond belief.”

A few Conditions of Sleep Disorders

A few conditions explored in this book are: sleep apnoea, sleep walking, night terrors, narcolepsy and catalepsy.

These conditions are not completely unknown to the public. However, Guy Leschzine offers us some very extreme cases. For example, one of his patients  is riding her motorcycle while asleep. Another patient locks his fridge in order to prevent himself from night-eating. Finally, a few conditions are so severe and rare that doctors are dismissing their patience, unable to comprehend that this could be a real illness. 

Luckily, doctors refer this cases to the sleep specialist, Guy Leschziner.

Dark night over dark water and moon shining down representing sleep disorders.
Sleep disorders almost always affect the mental ability of a person.

Compassionate Writing 

Guy Leschziner has infused this book with his genuine drive to help his patience. Even more, he tells the stories with the patient’s best interest in mind. Even more, he is highlighting the human suffering and the impact these conditions have. 

Because of this, at times, he needs to act as counselor for his patience, as these conditions are extremely difficult on their family also.

Do Not Self Diagnose Sleep Disorders

A word of caution is needed for the enthusiastic reader. You should not use this book to self-diagnose your own sleep difficulties. This is because the book presents extreme conditions both in manifestation and in their prevalence. Even more, some milder forms of this disorder have the same symptoms, tricking the non-specialist. 

Bedroom with bed in white linen and blue light: sleep disorders.
Our mental health is essential for our own well-being.

Final Words

Our mental health is essential for our own well-being. Sleep disorders almost always affect the mental ability of a person. Sleeplessness can make us more susceptible to illnesses like  Parkinson’s, as we age. Or, much more immediately, it makes us unable to focus. Lack of sleep always has a negative impact on our health.

This is an educational book. It contains many specialized notions. However, they do not hinder the flow of the story. Guy Leschziner goes to great lengths to keep a good balance between the human suffering of his patience and the science he is conveying can help those afflicted by night terrors, understand they are not alone in their struggle. Sleep conditions are extremely common in their mild forms. Scientists are only now starting to understand them. 

Recommended Books

Why we sleep – a book about sleep. See review in this site

The Unthinkable – brain disorders that help us understand the normal functionality of the brain. See review in this site.

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