A fourth-generation insomniac, Patricia Morrisroe decided that the only way she’d ever conquer her life-long sleep disorder was by becoming an expert in the subject. So, armed with half a century of personal experience and a journalist’s curiosity, she set off to uncover one of life’s greatest mysteries: sleep. Wide Awake is the eye-opening account of Morrisroe’s quest — a compelling memoir that blends science, culture, and business to tell the story of why she — and 40 million other Americans — can’t sleep at night.
Over the course of three years of research and reporting, she talks to sleep doctors, drug makers, psychiatrists, anthropologists, hypnotherapists, “wake” experts, mattress salesmen, a magician, an astronaut, and even a reindeer herder. She spends an uncomfortable night wired up in a sleep lab. She tries “sleep restriction” and “brain music therapy.” She buys a high-end sound machine, custom-made ear plugs, and a “quiet” house in the country to escape the noisy neighbors in the city. She attends a continuing medical education course in Las Vegas, where she discovers that doctors are among the most sleep-deprived people in the country. She travels to Sonoma, California, where she attends a “Dream Ball” costumed as her “dream self.” To fulfill a childhood fantasy, she celebrates Christmas Eve two hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, in the famed Icehotel tossing and turning on an ice bed. Finally, after traveling the globe, she finds the answer to her insomnia right around the corner from her apartment in New York City.
A mesmerizing mix of personal insight, science and social observation, Wide Awake examines the role of sleep in our increasingly hyperactive culture. For the millions who suffer from sleepless nights and hazy caffeine-filled days, this humorous, thought-provoking and ultimately hopeful book is an essential bedtime companion. It does, however, come with a caution: reading it will promote wakefulness.