Read Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia by Patricia Morrisroe Online


A fourth-generation insomniac, Patricia Morrisroe decided that the only way she’d ever conquer her lifelong sleep disorder was by becoming an expert on the subject. So, armed with half a century of personal experience and a journalist’s curiosity, she set off to explore one of life’s greatest mysteries: sleep. Wide Awake is the eye-opening account of Morrisroe’s quest—a coA fourth-generation insomniac, Patricia Morrisroe decided that the only way she’d ever conquer her lifelong sleep disorder was by becoming an expert on the subject. So, armed with half a century of personal experience and a journalist’s curiosity, she set off to explore 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 forty million other Americans—can’t sleep at night.             Over the course of three years of research and reporting, Morrisroe 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 her 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 warning: Reading it will promote wakefulness....

Title : Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385522243
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia Reviews

  • Shirin
    2019-04-10 06:46

    Now that I've read this book, I can't remember what I thought it was going to be when I picked it up. Ironically, after the first few entertaining pages, I was having a lot of trouble getting through the first part of the book without wanting to go to sleep. The history of sleep and the science/pharmacy that it inspired was a bit dry but afterwards, the second half of the book really picked it. It's a fast read with a lot of interesting facts and tidbits. I'm glad I perserved through it. I don't know if I'll ever want to read it again but I am glad I read it the once. The book is definitely handy as a reference for anyone needing information of this sort, whoever they be. When the author got to the section about house-hunting, it seemed a little bit non-sequitir, compared to the rest of the memoir, but in the end, the author does do a nice job of tying everything together.I originally had purchased a copy of the book to give to my best friend as a gift, the subject manner would be something she and I could appreciate. I read my copy in advance to see if it was a smart gift choice after all. I'm not sure she'd like it enough to warrant the gift but perhaps I'll let her borrow my copy if she ever seems interested.The one thing I took away from the book, more than anything else: How does this woman afford everything? All these exotic trips, classes, seminars? I couldn't devote this much to my own sleep study, and that upsets me.I will say the most entertaining section came towards the end, interpreting dreams. The most interesting and enjoyable: learning about the Sami in the Arctic Circle."How can you prove whether at this moment we are sleeping and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether or not we are awake and talking to one another in the waking state?" -- Plato, as quoted by Alan :)

  • Sarah
    2019-04-09 03:26

    I’ve been an insomniac for as long as I can remember. And I’ve been a bookworm even longer. Why I’ve never thought to read books about insomnia is beyond me. But here I am, doing it now, in an effort to get some better zzz’s. This book is half memoir, half sleep science. Morrisroe uses her own insomnia as a platform to explore all the facts and theories and myths about sleep, which ends up being a pretty cool exercise. There’s definitely a lot about sleep that I didn’t know, and a lot about sleep that nobody knows. As it turns out, sleep is a mystery wrapped in a riddle. Despite the heroic efforts of our best and brightest, we still don’t even know why we sleep, let alone what sleep “disorders” might be about. Everyone has their own theories, of course, from Freudian psychologists and Hobbesian neuroscientists to mystical shamans, religious fanatics, and anthropologists… But when it comes down to it, we truly have no consensus, even in terms of the basics like why we dream or how our bodies determine how much sleep we need, and when. We don’t know how much sleep is the healthiest, or why we die without it. Although this book didn’t offer me many answers in terms of my own sleep woes as I was hoping it might, it was an interesting read nonetheless. And on a final note, there were a couple sections that got a bit boring, but that may actually be a good thing for insomniacs like me looking for something to rock them quietly to sleep.

  • Amber
    2019-03-23 10:23

    I really enjoyed Mrs. Morrisroe's story of her protracted battle with insomnia. I have had a bizarre form of insomnia mixed with becoming nocturnal since puberty, so I can relate! I was both impressed and a little appalled by the sheer number of treatments and facilities dedicated to solving the insomnia epidemic that seems to be sweeping the world. The information about the various medications that the author tried left me with the same unease about sleeping pills that I've always had. I was lucky enough to find one that works (thought it still can't make me sleep during the night) and doesn't seem to have too many side-effects - but now I'm wondering if the side-effects are just waiting for awhile before rearing their ugly heads.To cut a long ramble short, since I can't help but relate my own experiences with insomnia, I really enjoyed this book and I'm glad the Mrs. Morrisroe wrote it. It makes you feel less alone when it's 4am and you're sitting in that quiet bubble of sleeplessness.

  • Keith Akers
    2019-04-03 11:28

    If you are looking for a general overview of theories of insomnia and practical advice as to how to deal with it, this is a good place to start. But what makes "Wide Awake" really good is that it is a scream to read. I was not seeking it out because it was funny. But I finished the book, reading it like it was a novel, because it was funny. I checked this book out because I was interested in the subject of insomnia and wanted more information and ideas as to how to treat it. What I got was something which might actually be even better, a personal memoir about the author's struggles with insomnia. You get a quick tour of the major ideas and theories from a very personal point of view: that of an author who has been there and done that. Topics include sleeping pills, sleep clinics, cognitive behavioral therapy, sleep courses, hypnotherapy, wake-promoting drugs, shift-work disorder, sleep apnea, mattresses, power napping, searching for a quieter neighborhood, trying to sleep in an ice hotel north of the arctic circle, meditation, and the study of dreams.Morrisroe is on a mission, to get some sleep, and so it is a succession of stories as she tries one thing after another. None of them are completely without merit, but none of them give her satisfaction until a combination of factors at the end finally seems to get her back on track. I won't reveal the ending, but I am not convinced that what worked for her will work for everyone, and she doesn't seem to think so either, and certainly isn't promoting it. In fact, it's not even clear what it was, exactly, that helped.She leaves the impression that there is no real "science" of sleep. Even the best, brightest, and smartest of those in the field are still struggling to make sense of the whole thing. The really smart people understand that while we've got quite a bit of interesting research, there are just a whole bunch of things that we still don't really know -- like why we sleep at all, for example. Because it's a memoir, and because the author doesn't present herself as an expert, she isn't committed to defending or attacking this or that idea or set of ideas. In the end this is actually more helpful for us than it would be if she had just tried to write a more systematic treatise. Thanks for the book!

  • Hannah Jo Parker
    2019-04-05 07:49

    I had high hopes for this book, as someone who enjoys memoirs and has struggled with insomnia most of her adult life, but I ended up disappointed. I consider myself a sympathetic/empathetic person, but I lost my patience with the author over lines like, "I've never taken a nap in my life and have always been highly suspicious of people who do..." I am not much of a nap taker, either, but I think it's ridiculous to NEVER take one if you truly are going without sleep at night. And, it's ridiculous to be "suspicious" of people who take them. You know who I'm suspicious of? People who say they've never taken a nap, especially people who were children once -- children who took naps.

  • John
    2019-03-26 08:40

    Quite well-written, and I'd read more by the author. However, on occasion it goes a bit deep into medical-scientific theory; I was forced to skim those parts. Still, a worthwhile addition to the self-help-exploration genre: Helping Me Help Myself, All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, And Only Slightly Enlightening Headache, etc.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-01 06:40

    Too technical at times; definitely a cure for insomnia at others. But I liked this one well enough. It was good to read someone else's insomnia experience, if only to reassure myself that my case of insomnia is not so bad.

  • Traci Nicole
    2019-04-12 06:31

    I found it to be really interesting. It was educational without being textbook dry. Well, in the beginning anyway. By chapter 10, I was just ready for it to be over.

  • Ashley
    2019-04-09 03:36

    An ok read. The author details her struggle with insomnia and her quest to find a cure. She tries meditation, medication, a sleep study, and moving, just to name a few. While there was some interesting medical info in the book, I felt like the author was whining most of the time. Obviously wealthy, she's able to indulge in treatments that the majority of the population wouldn't be able to. The most glaring example of this is her and her husband's house search to find a county home that may aid in her search to find a good night's sleep. In particular, they looked at home next to one owned by Ralph Lauren and one in the same neighborhood as Martha Stewart. Really? You think that will help anyone relate to you and your struggle with waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep? Not exactly how I'd choose to endear myself to my audience. I also found the dream-intrepretation chapter a little annoying. It was interesting to hear from the so-called experts, but Morrisroe unfortunately tried her hand at the same, with results that made me laugh out loud at the sheer ridiculousness. The gist: she had a dream that she was being blocked from a meditation garden by a pit bull handled by two men. The dog had a spike collar made of popsicles. Somehow, Morrisroe decided that the popsicle was a metaphor for the pope and her Catholic teachings and the dog, obviously, symbolizes Catholic dogma. Um, ok. I know it's a very subjective "science", but seriously? I wish Morrisroe had stayed out of the story a little more, as the science and history behind sleep disorders was actually quite interesting.

  • Laura Hancock
    2019-03-29 09:49

    I loved this book, a combination of memoir and good journalism. Morrisroe, in her 50s, has struggled with insomnia her entire life. Personally, I can relate: I struggle falling asleep. Morrisroe can fall asleep but in the middle of the night she wakes and cannot return to sleep. In fact, she's a fourth generation insomniac, and I was touched by the stories of her family members' insomnia, especially those of her beloved grandpa. Yet Morrisroe writes with sharp wit, especially as she describes her adventures with overnight sleep studies, napping service companies, insomnia drugs, dream therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, hypnosis, music therapy, mattresses that promise a good night's sleep and even a second home in the country. But the book's more than a funny story about an overnight sleep study: Morrisroe parses through research on sleep and sleepness using her fine-tuned background in journalism to help novices like myself understand what really can be known for sure on the subject. I've learned about the iffy science, business interests and New Age hokus pokus behind insomnia. Just as important, however, I learned that freedom from insomnia requires solutions that are individual and could involve some of the very solutions Morrisroe questions.Morrisroe ultimately finds an effective solution to insomnia. You'll have to read it to find out what that is!

  • Jes Pedroza
    2019-04-19 03:49

    "Wide Awake" is a thoroughly researched book on just that...., staying wide awake and having difficulty sleeping for the recommended 8 hours.The author suffers from insomnia and searches for the answers to her own questions that doctors can not seem to give her. Because there is so little research done in the field of sleep (especially after REM was discovered), the few scattered studies that exist do not paint a clear picture of how do deal with problems as they arise. It is however recognized that sleep is very, very important!She gives examples of the dire consequences due to sleep deprivation, including the Libby Zion case, where over worked residents made poor decisions, leading to Zion's death which eventually changed US law to limit the hours a doctor can work in a day.Morrisroe tries every pill under FDI approval but finds them to have scary side effects without actually helping her sleep. She turns to hypnosis, music therapy, purchasing a new "sleep situation" (e.g new mattress, pillow and house!) and finally yoga, which in the end, aids immensely.It's great to see her finally get some relief and inform readers on what they may not know about sleep but most definitely should!

  • William
    2019-04-09 11:32

    I put this book on my to read list back when I was having a lot of trouble sleeping. Hoping I could get some insights into overcoming the problem. That was back in 2010 and I'm happy to report that I no longer suffer from sleeplessness. But this turned out to be a really good book. not only chronicling the authors struggles with insomnia but all of humankind's efforts to eradicate it. From the Billions made annually by big pharma pushing worthless sleeping pills...pills proven in sturdy after study to increase sleep time an average of only 11 minutes more than placebo's and to work less well than amphetamines! The book covers the history of sleep and all of our attempts to get a good nights one through bedding, snoring cessation devices, dental apparatus, and electrodes. The author describes sleep clinics, dream interpreters, and some of the truly bizarre lengths people will go to to get a good nights sleep. The book is very informative and entertaining. The author conquers her insomnia in the end just as I did mine. I wont spoil it and tell you how she did it but I can tell you how I did. I retired, so I can sleep all day long if I want too!

  • Leah
    2019-04-03 11:41

    This book presents an overview of the history and the current state of the science of sleep and dreams, overlaid with (and motivated by) the author's own attempts to get her lifelong insomnia under control. I've had some struggles with insomnia myself (who hasn't, really?) so it was particularly interesting to me on that level. She did a great job of presenting the science of sleep and dreams, and least from a layperson's point of view, and it was made all the more sympathetic by her openness about how her insomnia was affecting her daily life.Where she lost me, though, was when she veered away from the science and into the woo. Spoiler alert: the author's insomnia is never really cured, but through meditation, she becomes better able to deal with it somehow? The book isn't really clear - it ends with her being up in the middle of the night, enjoying the beauty of the full moon, so obviously she hasn't conquered it. Anyway, I'm glad she's feeling more in control of her sleep issues, and that meditation has helped her. I just felt that the book could've done without the chakras and the Ayurvedic medicine and so forth.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-05 10:47

    This book is a great read, especially for anyone suffering with insomnia. Unlike other books about sleeping problems, this author incorporates humor into her writing. Her wit will definitely keep readers turning the pages, even if it is to skip over a couple of really dry spots. Otherwise, I found myself cracking up at least once in every chapter, especially when she talks about her buddy Alan. The only thing that I did not like about this book was her house-hunting quest. At the beginning of the book I had the impression that she was of a moderate income level, but when she is looking for a home it is clear that she and her husband have money to spare, and probably lots of it. I do not like reading about real people moving into homes directly next door to Ralph Lauren; it's very pretentious. Overall, I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone who seriously needs help sleeping.

  • Angie Fehl
    2019-04-11 11:42

    A little disappointing. I myself have DSPD (Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder), have had sleeping issues my entire life, so I enjoy reading about other people's experiences with sleeplessness. Here though, I often found myself a little bored with Morrisoe's story. Morrisoe writes well, and it is humorous at points, I just wasn't super riveted throughout. I personally cannot feel oneness with tales of jetting off to Lapland, Finland to try to find sleep in a swanky ice hotel or swooning over a house that boasts Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart as neighbors, but some of what she talks about did echo a few of my own experiences. I did pull quite the insomnia-inspired TBR from this one though! Didn't keep me "wide awake" but I did glean a bit from it.

  • Kate Lawrence
    2019-04-07 06:34

    Most people wouldn't find it funny to miss sleep night after night, but the way Morrisroe tells it, chronic insomnia can be hilarious! Think Nora Ephron, or Erma Bombeck. Morrisroe's quest through state-of-the-art sleep research, as well as numerous less scientific remedies, is informative as well as being entertaining, including interviews with some of the top names in the field. She's willing to try just about anything that might help, and ultimately she finds an answer that works. I won't say what it is--no spoilers here. This would be a good choice to read the next time you're awake in the night, but stay well away from sleeping family members--you won't want to wake them up when you laugh out loud.

  • Laura
    2019-03-21 09:48

    Pretty rambling and disconnected. I've read a lot of books about sleep and did not really learn anything new. Although I did chuckle a few times in this book (one particularly memorable line was when she was thinking about taking up meditation but said that if she were going to do that she would do it right and study under a guru in India but that when she did make it to India, she was too busy shopping and sightseeing). I felt like she came up with this idea for a book and managed to get a good-sized advance to research and write it - but that she really wasn't able to find enough material to fill a whole book. The chapter on dreams especially did not fit.

  • Dinah
    2019-04-07 06:34

    I expected this to be a memoir of a sleep-deprived individual who finally found the key to good sleep and wanted to help others do the same. However, this book offers so much more. It is packed with interesting research, scientific questions/implications, and a thought-provoking analysis of the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the way insomnia is addressed by the medical community. I would recommend it with caution to people who have any recurrent problems with sleep, as it gives you a heightened awareness of your own sleep issues, which (in my case!) can intensify them. Overall, an informative and enjoyable read.

  • Vy
    2019-04-06 08:24

    I'm sorry to say I did not like this book as much as I had thought I would. There is nothing wrong with it in particular. Some parts were funny and some were engaging, but I could not stay interested overall. In the 6 weeks that I had this book out from the library, I honestly really only found myself reaching for it late at night if I was having trouble sleeping. As I don't think it was meant as a cure for insomnia, I finally decided to abandon the book after only getting 1/3 of the way through.

  • Sheila Beaumont
    2019-04-07 08:36

    You don't have to be an insomniac to enjoy this entertaining, often humorous memoir about the quest for a good night's sleep. I'm a good sleeper, and I found this memoir, which goes into sleep patterns among different cultures, the nature of dreams, and from there into spirituality, fascinating. Most interesting, I thought, was the section about the pervasive propaganda of the sleep industry in convincing people that if they don't get a standard eight hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly, they are dangerously sleep-deprived and desperately in need of the industry's pharmaceutical remedies.

  • Nette
    2019-03-22 04:47

    A funny and thorough look at sleep problems and cures, covering everything from drugs to $21,000 designer beds. However, like some of the other reviewers here, I was put off by the constant reminders that she's rich, rich, rich; I really didn't need to read all about her house hunt in Martha Stewart Country or her luxury vacation at the Ice Hotel in Sweden. The reader comes away thinking, "What the hell does SHE have to worry about, she could HIRE people to do her sleeping."

  • Emily Eason
    2019-03-21 08:45

    I was somewhat disappointed with the fact that the author included so much about the history of sleep medicine and other related topics and didn't include as much about her personal experiences. It felt as if the book was about 50% sleep & historical facts and 50% memoir. That was frustrating since I was expecting mostly memoir. With that said, I did enjoy her writing style and the connections she makes between sleep & other areas of her life are interesting.

  • Julia
    2019-04-11 09:35

    I hesitated to read this at first, fearing that it would be too clinical; then at second because the Times review claimed it was too talky. I am pleased to report that I found it to be neither. Morrisoe packs a lot of information about sleep in this memoir through vignettes about her research for a better night's sleep. She does so with a great deal of humor, and the book contains some serious research which is presented for the lay person. Hence a fun and informative read.

  • William Blair
    2019-04-15 08:44

    A woman with insommnia. Her search for relief. I was hoping for insight, although I don't really suffer from it (my problems having been solved with a CPAP machine years ago). This would be a good book for someone with the problem, since she details her search and reviews the gamut of potential treatements and solutions. Some were new to me.If you don't have a sleeping problem, there's nothing here for you, except perhaps a mildly romantic story. God bless her husband.

  • Vicki Zelski
    2019-04-15 05:34

    Being an insomniac, I found this interesting. It starts with the best description of insomnia I've every read (insomnia as John Malkovich in Dangerous Liasons). The author explored every side of trying to fix sleep problems and finally realizes that meditation is the answer and she'll never be an excellent sleeper but she gets what she needs. And that sleeping is not a one size fits all thing which is why the notion that everybody needs eight hours is a myth.

  • Jody
    2019-03-31 07:44

    Fascinating and humourous read on insomnia - really! Author anecdotally writes about her lifelong issues with insomnia and provides info on sleeping aids, mattresses, meditation and other avenues she pursued to provide her slumber. It helped me -- I figured out my solution. Recommend to anyone, but especially those who went to a Catholic high school! She was classmates with Jay Leno and shares some of same type of humor. This book WON'T put you to sleep!

  • Hillary
    2019-04-06 03:44

    I enjoyed this insomniac's very well researched memoir. Her personal story is woven into the history of sleep medicine and research, resulting in a very funny and educational tale. Because I am not familiar with this author, however, I did find myself wondering how thoroughly all the information was vetted, and some of the more technical material presented was a little boring.

  • Lindsay
    2019-04-17 04:35

    Funny and informative. If you've ever struggled with sleeping, you will identify with the author's trials. She gives a history of sleep issues and weaves it with her own experiences.And at the end she reveals what changed her sleep forever, but I don't want to give it away! Needless to say I'm going to try it.

  • Tina
    2019-04-06 08:32

    De eerste helft is zeer goed. Geschiedenis, analyse en persoonlijke ervaringen met slaappillen, slaapklinieken en co. Alle info over de 'insomniabusiness' is super interessant. De tweede helft over haar zoektocht naar een rustig huis of de juiste matras kon me minder boeien. Ah en haar oplossing? Meditatie. Mja.

  • Cheryl Schibley
    2019-04-17 09:35

    A fun read. With wit, irony and a little neurosis this author takes you thru her journey to find a cure for her insomina. The book covers dreams, drugs, and all the latest science and history of how we sleep. In short, we are living longer and sleeping less mostly because our bodies are adapting to more and more stimuli. It's evolution.