Thursday, May 27, 2010

Patricia Morrisroe's "Wide Awake"

Patricia Morrisroe received a B.A. from Tufts University and an M.A. from NYU. She is the author of Mapplethorpe: A Biography and was for many years a contributing editor to New York magazine. She has written for numerous other publications, including Vanity Fair and Vogue.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia, and reported the following:
My book Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia is a first-person account of my struggle to “find” sleep, as well as a look at the many facets of the $24 billion sleep industry. Poor sleep runs in my family. Both my mother and maternal grandfather had insomnia, so I learned from an early age that sleep wasn’t a natural process but a gift from the fickle gods, who, at any moment, could snatch it away. Moving to New York after college, I lived in a series of increasingly noisy apartments and began to feel totally at odds with nature. I couldn’t see the sky from my windows. I hadn’t seen a moon in, well, a moon. I began to wonder if city living was contributing to my insomnia.

As part of my research, I traveled to Las Vegas, where I attended a continuing medical education course with 300 doctors. If New York is the city that doesn’t sleep, Vegas is the Village of the Damned – a neon metropolis that glows so brightly that its lights are visible from eight national parks. After spending nearly a week there, I didn’t know what day it was, or even if it was day. I felt incredibly unhealthy. Page 99 finds me sitting in a conference room at the MGM Grand Hotel listening to Dr. Fred Turek, a circadian biologist, talk about the research he’s conducted on the effects of sleep deprivation on mice. Not only did the mice get fat, but they developed diabetes and high cholesterol – symptoms seen in overweight people. His research is supported by studies done by Dr. Eve Van Cauter, who showed the effects of short-term sleep on healthy young men. After two nights of four hours of sleep, they had lower levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, and higher levels of ghrelin, an appetite stimulant. As Turek said in the lecture, he believes that one of our big problems is that we’re increasingly out of sync with nature – my feelings exactly.
Read an excerpt from Wide Awake, and learn more about the book and author at Patricia Morrisroe's website.

--Marshal Zeringue