rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 3: p. 265
Sources: Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreams: The Evolution, Function, Nature, and Mysteries of Slumber
Korey Brunetti

Reference and Instruction Librarian/Collections Coordinator, California State University, East Bay, Hayward

A uniquely focused reference tool, Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreams (ESD) brings together scholarship from a range of disciplines, including sleep medicine, psychology, and anthropology. The editors, both leading authorities on the study of sleep and dreams, sought a current, clinical focus in compiling this work, directing contributors to cite “specific findings from the sleep medicine clinic or the cognitive lab” (xxiii). Given the emphasis on emerging research in sleep studies, it is not surprising that ESD offers timely content on a range of issues. Entry topics include “Sleep and Dreams in Psychiatric Disorders and Autism,” “Sleep Disturbances in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” and “Ecstasy (MDMA) Use and Sleep Problems.” These topics should appeal to a range of users, but often the content seems tailored for specialists; some entries read more like literature reviews than reference overviews, with little in the way of general introduction that would appeal to a novice. Other topics, particularly those addressing anthropological and cultural aspects of sleep and dreams, are written for a wider audience. An entry on African American dream beliefs and practices, for example, provides an engaging review of dream-related themes in this culture. ESD also offers a useful selection of concise entries on dream theory, including several on Jung’s work, and on dream content, such as animals in dreams and nightmare content in adults.

Entries, which average two to five pages, are authored by academics, physicians, practicing psychologists, and related professionals. Most include useful references, but in some cases entries only include references to the authors’ own, previously published work. ESD does include an extensive appendix highlighting further sleep and dream-related publications.

ESD is well organized. Entries are listed alphabetically by title, and the editors have included a guide to related topics, which organizes entries under umbrella terms. This is particularly useful in a work that spans so many disciplines and seemingly unrelated issues. As an example, the topical term “Dreams and Therapy” joins entries for “Cancer Patients and Dreamwork” and “Neurofeedback for Sleep Problems.” While this organization is helpful, it also reveals ESD’s professional focus. Some topical terms could use clarifying definitions to assist the non-specialist (for example, Parasomnias). Most entries include “see also” references. Illustrations, tables, and photos permeate and enrich the work.

While some of the content in ESD can be found in existing, subject-specific reference resources such as Facts on File’s Encyclopedia of Sleep and Sleep Disorders (2010, 3rd ed.), no current work so comprehensively covers both sleep science and dream studies. One title with similar scope is Mary A. Carskadon’s Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming (Macmillan, 1993). This single-volume work achieves a more consistent, accessible tone and does a better job providing narrative overviews of broad topics that contextualize other entries; it continues to hold value for newcomers to this area of study. However, this work was published almost twenty years ago and there is no revised edition.

ESD should prove a valuable supplement to academic library collections, particularly at universities with programs in psychology or sociology, but its unevenness make it less suitable to public library or high school collections.



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