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This book is much shorter than most that have recently been published on sleep disorders and is all the more useful for this. The authors have been selective in the topics that they have covered and have emphasised the management of sleep disorders in primary care. Well recognised problems such as insomnia are included, and the book also deals with common but often overlooked conditions such as the restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movements in sleep. The chapter on pharmacological aspects of sleep deals mainly with hypnotic drugs and their use in insomnia and the place of stimulant drugs, especially amphetamines, in conditions causing excessive daytime sleepiness. One of the most original and most useful chapters is that which discusses sleep disorders in children. The overlap of medical, psychological, family, and social factors which are all important at this age are carefully dissected out.
The book emphasises how patients present to medical attention, and how to assess the various symptoms of sleep disorders. The chapter on sleep disorders as preventive medicine is interesting and most of the chapters are enhanced by the inclusion of case studies. These are well chosen examples of clinical histories which exemplify how, and also how not, to manage sleep complaints. The tables, graphs and recordings from sleep monitoring records also make this book easier to read.
The authors cover each topic to a level which is sufficient for the non-specialist in sleep disorders, although some sections are rather superficial, and, as is almost inevitable in a multiauthor book, different chapters assume different levels of knowledge and understanding by the reader. The inclusion of a brief overview of the topic of some in the chapters would have been helpful. The discussion of excessive daytime sleepiness, for instance, concentrates on narcolepsy and gives little coverage of the many other disorders causing this symptom. Overall, however, this is a useful and informative book which will be helpful to both medical and non-medical staff who are involved in handling sleep problems.
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