Sleep Demons

An Insomniac’s Memoir

For as far back as he can remember, Hayes has had trouble sleeping. He’d wander his parents’ house at night, “existing on nothing but the fumes of consciousness,” jealously wondering how everyone else slipped into dreamland so easily. From these nocturnal ramblings grew an unblinking, lifelong fascination with sleep (or the absence of it), which Hayes has transmuted into a skilled and graceful work of narrative nonfiction that variously reads like a journey of scientific discovery, a personal memoir and a literary episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

This updated edition from the University of Chicago Press includes a new Preface by the author.

Reviews for Sleep Demons

“What if the hum [of sleep] never comes? That’s what writer and photographer Bill Hayes explores in his magnificent book Sleep Demons, part reflection on his own lifelong turmoil in the nocturne, part sweeping inquiry into the sometimes converging, sometimes colliding worlds of sleep research, psychology, medicine, mythology, aging, and mental health.”

“Reissued with a new preface, this intimate and beautifully written book brings scientific research alive in a heartfelt and deeply personal narrative.”

“A skilled and graceful debut that variously reads like a journey of scientific discovery, a personal memoir, and a literary episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not….An intelligent, beautifully written book, Hayes’ curious hybrid will delight readers who snore past dawn as well as those who pace away while the midnight oil burns.”

-- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, pursues sleep as avidly and lyrically as Nabokov pursued butterflies.”

-- San Francisco Chronicle

“Who knew insomnia could be so much fun?”

-- Kirkus Reviews

“Sleep Demons is a lovely weave of memory and science, great characters and compassionate humor. Insomniacs will love it for the sense of connection and solution; the rest of your (grrr) for its wisdom and wonderful writing.”

-- Anne Lamott, author of Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird