I can't work, I can't think, I can't connect with anyone anymore.... I mope through a day's work and haven't had a promotion in years.... It's like I'm being sucked dry, eaten away, swallowed up, coming unglued.... These are voices of a few of the tens of millions who suffer from chronic insomnia. In this revelatory book, Gayle Greene offers a uniquely comprehensive account of this devastating and little-understood condition. She has traveled the world in a quest for answers, interviewing neurologists, sleep researchers, doctors, psychotherapists, and insomniacs of all sorts. What comes of her extraordinary journey is an up-to-date account of what is known about insomnia, providing the information every insomniac needs to know to make intelligent choices among medications and therapies. Insomniac is at once a field guide through the hidden terrain inhabited by insomniacs and a book of consolations for anyone who has struggled with this affliction that has long been trivialized and neglected.


The cure for insomnia? Get plenty of sleep.
W. C. Fields

The first thing to go is your sense of humor. Then goes the desire to do the things you used to do, then the desire to do anything at all. Parts of your body ache that you don’t even know the names of, and your eyes forget how to focus. Words you once knew aren’t there anymore, and there’s less and less to say. People you once cared about fall by the way and you let them go, too.

Insomnia is a problem most insomniacs don’t want to talk about. In fact, it’s a problem many of us don’t know how to talk about. “Oh, you know, a bad night,” I say to a colleague’s “What’s wrong?” on one of my walking-into-walls days. “Why, Gayle, what do you have to lose sleep about? You’ve got no problems,” says my colleague, eyebrows raised. If I’d been up with a bad tooth or a sick child, that’s something he would understand. If I just plain can’t sleep, that’s weird. Anyhow, chronic insomnia is not just “a bad night.” Chronic (i.e., lasting, constant, continuous) insomnia is a bad night that goes on and on.

Look on the Web, read what insomniacs say on and, and you’ll find stories of lives wrecked by this affliction, marriages ruined, educations abandoned, jobs lost, careers destroyed. I can’t work, I can’t date, I can’t connect with anyone anymore. I had to drop out of school. I used to be a lawyer; now I’m the walking dead. I was a teacher once; there’s no way I could face a classroom now. It’s like being punished for something, only I don’t know what I did. Does anybody have any advice? Please, please, can somebody tell me what to do? (Here—and throughout the book—I’ve italicized the words of insomniacs. Since most of the names I’d attach to insomniacs’ quotes would be pseudonyms, I’ve left names off, except where speakers have told me they’re willing to be identified.) . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.