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Book Reviews


Take a Nap! Change Your Life
Sarah Mednick, Mark Ehrman

Review by Pat Endicott

In recent years I have come to know the importance of a good night’s sleep. In the mid 1990’s I was studying for a number of qualifications and the only time to get the homework done was when my then teenage boys had finished theirs and gone to bed.  So I would be up until 1:00 and 2:00 in the morning and sometimes later if an assignment was due in. 

Over a period of time I learnt to catch up by sleeping in at weekends and on holiday.  Nevertheless, in time I also found it increasingly difficult to get to sleep and I never seemed to be really refreshed in the mornings – a bit like having a hangover but without the enjoyment of the alcohol!  To compensate, my caffeine intake shot up to alarming proportions.

Then the dreaded hyperthyroidism struck and it was time to take a look at my lifestyle.  In point of fact it was an imposed change and not by choice – a real ‘wake up’ call (please excuse the pun!).  The importance of sleep was drummed into me by the extremely kind and caring doctor I consulted and over six years I have made gradual and substantial improvements in my sleep routine.  Professionally, I also moved into the field of Stress Management and this reinforced the deleterious effects of late nights and early mornings.

And so it was that in the Spring of 2008 I found myself manning the stand for our professional body at the Health at Work exhibition in Birmingham.  Directly opposite us were two great guys with an incredible looking contraption they called a ‘sleep pod’.  To be honest it was a bit futuristic and looked more like a dentist’s chair with a canopy over it!  I was assured it had all been scientifically evaluated and was beneficial to relaxation and thus enhanced wellbeing and increased productivity at work. 

As Marcus explained to me, the concept is that one sits back in the chair, closes the canopy and sets the timer to however long one wishes to nap.  Gentle music plays and coloured lights help one nap contentedly, waking refreshed and ready for anything.  Sounds almost too good to be true!  I was promised a 20 minute slot but, sadly, had to forego this in order to leave early to deliver an evening presentation many miles away.  However, Marcus did insist that I read ‘Take a Nap! By Sara C Mednick PhD and indeed I did.

‘Take a Nap!’ is an interesting review of Mednick’s research into sleep and in particular how taking a nap can help restore our energy and productivity.  Mednick begins by reviewing sleep patterns over the ages and much of her information makes fascinating reading.  For instance, did you know that the term siesta is derived from the Roman sexta meaning 12 noon, or the sixth hour of the day by their counting.  At 12 noon the Romans would take a nap!

It would also seem that left to our own devices we would take a mid-day nap.  Dr Jurgen Aschoff refurbished some abandoned WWII bunkers in the 1950s with all the amenities of small one-bedroom flats, except there were no windows or clocks, radios or newspapers.  In fact, there was no way in which to tell the time of day or night.  The volunteers assisting with his research went through a short transitional phase and then began to settle into a new regime where they would experience a large dip in energy in the middle of the night when they would sleep for six to seven hours.  Roughly 12 hours later they would experience a mini-dip that would drive them back to bed for a shorter period of sleep.  Mednick goes on to suggest that the invention of the clock in the middle ages followed by the industrial revolution brought about a scenario whereby we came off of the land and began to ‘go to work’ in factories by day, sleeping by night.  She also cites many instances when sleep deprivation has led to disastrous results, including the Exon Valdeez tanker that ran aground and friendly fire on troops in Iraq.

So what does Mednick believe napping can do for us?  Described in her books as ‘free, it’s nontoxic and it has no dangerous side effects’ one wonders why napping has been given such a bad press over the years.  In truth, I wish I could master the art; my father could drop off to sleep at the drop of a hat and wake refreshed 20 minutes later, and my youngest has ‘power napped’ his way through his Masters Degree and almost to a PhD – so there must be something in it, surely.

Mednick gives 20 reasons including increasing alertness, speeding up motor performance (apparently there is an ideal time of day to thrash your partner on the squash court!), improving accuracy and decision making, preserve youthful looks, and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.  Better still, it can help to lose weight as studies show that sleepy people reach for high-fat, sugar-rich snacks more often than people who are properly rested.  Wow! I really need to give this a try! 

Napping can reduce your risk of developing diabetes as sleep deprivation increases insulin and cortisol levels, which in turn raise the risk of diabetes in later life.  This interested me because it fits with research conducted into stress, which also increases cortisol levels and runs amok with insulin levels, increasing the risk of diabetes.  Indeed, similar research has shown that a poor night’s sleep causes the body to produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol the next day in order to get one through the energy slump caused by lack of sleep, which then leads to another poor night due to the ‘burn’ effect of those very hormones.  So maybe Mednick is on to something here, including her other claims that napping improves stamina, elevates mood (sleep increases serotonin [the happy hormone], apparently), boosts creativity, reduces stress and dependence on alcohol and drugs and helps our memory – now, where had I got to?

‘Take a Nap!’ goes into some pretty complicated information on natural sleep cycles, circadian rhythms and much more but the basics are that to optimise napping one needs to follow a complicated algorithm.  ‘Ah’, you sigh – ‘I’m not up to that, I’m too tired!’ Indeed, so was I when I read this so I just used the Nap Wheel on the front cover of the book to calculate my best nap time which is dependent on when one wakes in the morning.  For instance, if one wakes at 7:00 am, a 90 minute nap at 1:00 p.m. would be considered the ‘perfect nap’ by Mednick.  But we can nap for much shorter session, even 10 – 20 minutes can be beneficial.  Equally, the time of the nap, relative to morning waking time produces different properties; a nap early in the day inspires creativity, later in the day improves alertness and motor skills and even later will increase the ability to concentrate well on complex issues.  Is this, perhaps, why I find it easier to study in the early hours of the morning, and so too my son?   

Equally important to know is that for a quick nap one needs to restrict a nap to less than 20 minutes to ensure one reaches only stage 3 of the 4 levels of sleep (1 = high, 4 = deep sleep).  Dropping into stages 3 or 4 in the daytime may mean waking feeling rather grumpy and just as tired as your pre-nap state.

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Hypothyroidism Type 2: Epidemic

Mark Starr

Review by Jane Bull

This enlightened book will be a breath of fresh air to those who have long believed that hypothyroidism, like its sister endocrine disorder diabetes, should be defined as having two types, Type 1 and Type 2.

Dr. Starr defines Type 1 as “The failure of the thyroid gland to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones necessary to maintain ‘normal’ blood levels of those hormones and ‘normal’ levels of TSH produced by the pituitary”.  Type 2 he defines as “Peripheral resistance to thyroid hormones at cellular level”.

It is the effects of this second definition which are consistently disregarded by so many doctors despite the vast array of hypothyroidism symptoms that may be experienced by a patient.  Dr. Starr suggests that as a result numbers of patients in this category have already reached epidemic proportions.

He addresses many of the hypothyroid symptoms individually and explains, from both historical information and his own practice and research, how Type 2 hypothyroidism can affect patients in many diverse ways from childhood to old age.  Some of the photographic work is very striking.  He also highlights the effects on thyroid function caused by toxins present in our atmosphere, water and food as a result of our modern lifestyle.

This informed and interesting book is a very easy read and I thoroughly recommend it.

As a footnote, Thyroid UK has contacted Dr. Starr and he has agreed to write an article for us on the much neglected subject of childhood hypothyroidism.  Unfortunately, as in the UK, successful thyroid doctors in the USA are not immune to the attentions of the thyroid establishment and Dr. Starr has been forced to move to another state in order to be able to continue to practice medicine. However, he has promised us an article as soon as he has re-organised his affairs.

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Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Sympoms? When My Lab Tests are Normal
Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS


Dr Kharrazian’s book is a bit technical but it covers so many topics. He feels, as we do, that hypothyroidism is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis and that thyroid replacement hormones may bring wellness to some people but to others it’s just the start of the better health journey.

This book has a lot of information on Hashimoto’s, blood sugar, digestion health - particularly gluten intolerance, adrenals and hormone pills.

Here at Thyroid UK we deal with a lot of people who get well on different medications such as levothyroxine, natural thyroid hormone, T3, adrenal supplements, B12 and Vitamin D, but we also get quite a few people who do not get well or only partially improve. It’s possible that this book will help you and/or your healthcare practitioner to look at other avenues towards wellness.

Dr Kharrazian’s book is full to brimming with references and has an excellent resource section.

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The Treason Within:
Are Our Doctors Misled by Governments and Big Business?

Dr John Millward B.M. B.Ch.

This is a really courageous book that I wholeheartedly recommend to members. I was so impressed by the book that I went to Bournemouth to meet the author - Dr John Millward - who kindly gave me a demonstration of the Vega machine that he uses in his practice.

Dr Millward studied medicine at Oxford University and at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. He was a GP in Bournemouth for many years, and became a pillar of the local community by serving as a non-executive director of a local hospital for 8 years; as a councillor for 15 years; and as Mayor of Bournemouth for a period in the 1990s.

That must have made it even more difficult for him to turn his back on orthodox medicine when he became dismayed at its inability to halt the rising epidemic of chronic ill-health. He retrained in alternative medicine – first in homoeopathy and acupuncture - and then left the NHS to set up an alternative medical practice with his wife Vicky, who is a homoeopath and naturopath.

Since then, Dr Millward has continued studying to increase the range and variety of his alternative medical skills, and as a result the practice now welcomes patients from all over the country and abroad. In the book, he:

  • critiques where conventional medicine fails patients
  • examines six basic causes of ill-health (one of which is candida), and
  • presents his approach to prevention and cure.

In the introduction, he says:
“I am both sad and angry that I spent so many wasted years in the pursuit of improvement in health care for my patients whilst using drugs that could never provide the results I craved. As the book proceeds you will discover not only how simple the origins of disease are but how simple safe and effective are the means of achieving both prevention and treatment. It will be for you the reader to decide if the failures of current health care are due to accident or deliberate intent.”

In Part One, Dr Millward looks at how our water, food, and the air that we breathe, have become contaminated or denatured and how that, together with unwise lifestyle choices, causes much of our ill-health. He reflects on current medical practice, and regrets the undue influence and control that drug companies have over doctors’ education. He is critical of what doctors are taught:
 “Before seeing their first patient, students receive teaching in the use of medicines. Even today, students are still taught that for a specific medical condition the drug of choice is product A. That the side effects of drug A can be countered for by the use of drug B. Thereafter drug C can be used to alleviate the effects of drug B. This perceived wisdom appears to be accepted without any question. Yet it should be remembered that nearly all medicines suppress the symptoms of disease and neither treat nor cure the underlying pathology.”

And he is critical of what they are NOT taught:
“Doctors may qualify without spending a single day learning about nutrition and body energy, both of which are essential for the understanding of disease and their role in healing.”

He points out that many diagnoses e.g. Irritable Bowel Syndrome are meaningless.
“A medical diagnosis nowadays is only a tool to assist in the search for the correct drug, and does not identify the original underlying cause of the patient’s illness.”

He points out that we are all unique and so require individualised treatment:
“It is important to realise that no single form of treatment is the sole panacea for all forms of disease. Every person’s illness is as unique as that person is also equally unique, and similarly any patient’s treatment should be equally unique to that individual.”
In Part Two, Dr Millward identifies the 6 underlying causes of all illness. They are:

  • Parasites
  • Viruses
  • Fungi / candida
  • Immunisations
  • Heredity
  • Environmental pollution

Dr Millward explains how these six factors can lead to mineral deficiencies that give rise to the symptoms associated with various illnesses.

He believes that all illness is multifactorial i.e. has more than one cause or contributory factor.
He details how he undertakes diagnoses with detailed patient histories and various diagnostic tools. He is particularly fond of the Vega Expert. Dr Millward says that use of the family of Vega machines is standard medical practice in Germany, unlike the UK. Interestingly, Vicky – Dr Millward’s wife who also practises at the clinic – told me that one of her Vega machines had been bought for her by the NHS for use with NHS patients, which does indicate some degree of recognition.

The book also contains some useful appendices. One lists some of the diseases caused by deficiencies of the 6 most important minerals:

  • Boron
  • Chromium
  • Lithium
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Dr Millward’s wife – Vicky Lee (Millward) also uses the Vega machine and treats candida. She is a registered homoeopath and naturopath who has been in practice since 1983. Vicky specialises in allergic, chronic viral and fungal conditions.
Both Vicky and Dr Millward practise at the Castle Lane Health Clinic in Bournemouth.
Contact details are:
Tel:  01202-300320
Web:  www.natural-health-care.co.uk

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Unless otherwise stated, Thyroid UK is in no way affiliated with the authors of the books reviewed on this webpage. Thyroid UK cannot accept any responsibility for any damage or harm caused by any treatment advice or information contained in these books. You should consult a qualified practitioner before undertaking treatment. The placing of any book review on our website should not be taken as an endorsement by Thyroid UK.