I came to this book as a mindfulness teacher who sometimes works with people suffering insomnia, not as an insomniac myself (though I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep). So I can’t vouch for whether it works. What I can say, though, is that this is a wonderfully thoughtful, clear and coherent application of mindfulness principles, as they are understood with in ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).
Meadows’s approach starts from the observation that good sleepers don’t do anything special to get to sleep, but poor sleepers end up employing a battery of pills, techniques and rituals that often, somehow don’t seem to solve the problem. In fact, if the underlying cause of sleeplessness is the mental activation that goes with worry, he suggests, it will be counter-productive to employ problem-solving approaches to sleep itself. They may work up to a point, but beyond that point they just reinforce the sense that there’s a problem. The alternative, which is the heart of the programme in The Sleep Book, is learning to accept difficult thoughts and feelings, as well as the urges and impulses that accompany them. The way to do that is through our old friend, mindfulness. Meditation only comes in in the form of short awareness practices. The key is your attitude.
I look forward to exploring this material more fully with clients and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to explore a mindful approach to sleeping better. A full mindfulness course would offer a better way to explore the mindfulness aspects of what Meadows is advocating, but this book applies it to sleep with confidence and authority.