Why We Sleep
A New York Times bestseller The first sleep book by a leading scientific expert—Professor Matthew Walker, Director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab—reveals his groundbreaking exploration of sleep, explaining how we can harness its transformative power to change our lives for the better.Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and longevity. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don't sleep. Compared to the other basic drives in life—eating, drinking, and reproducing—the purpose of sleep remained elusive. An explosion of scientific discoveries in the last twenty years has shed new light on this fundamental aspect of our lives. Now, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives us a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming. Within the brain, sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming mollifies painful memories and creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge to inspire creativity. Walker answers important questions about sleep: how do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? What really happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect us and can they do long-term damage? Charting cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and synthesizing decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes; slow the effects of aging; increase longevity; enhance the education and lifespan of our children, and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses. Clear-eyed, fascinating, and accessible, Why We Sleep is a crucial and illuminating book.

Why We Sleep Details

TitleWhy We Sleep
Author
ReleaseOct 3rd, 2017
PublisherScribner
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Science, Health, Psychology, Self Help

Why We Sleep Review

  • Bill Gates
    January 1, 1970
    Back in my early Microsoft days, I routinely pulled all-nighters when we had to deliver a piece of software. Once or twice, I stayed up two nights in a row. I knew I wasn’t as sharp when I was operating mostly on caffeine and adrenaline, but I was obsessed with my work, and I felt that sleeping a lot was lazy.Now that I’ve read Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep, I realize that my all-nighters, combined with almost never getting eight hours of sleep, took a big toll. The book was recommended to me by Back in my early Microsoft days, I routinely pulled all-nighters when we had to deliver a piece of software. Once or twice, I stayed up two nights in a row. I knew I wasn’t as sharp when I was operating mostly on caffeine and adrenaline, but I was obsessed with my work, and I felt that sleeping a lot was lazy.Now that I’ve read Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep, I realize that my all-nighters, combined with almost never getting eight hours of sleep, took a big toll. The book was recommended to me by my daughter Jenn and John Doerr. Walker, the director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science, explains how neglecting sleep undercuts your creativity, problem solving, decision-making, learning, memory, heart health, brain health, mental health, emotional well-being, immune system, and even your life span. “The decimation of sleep throughout industrialized nations is having a catastrophic impact,” Walker writes.I don’t necessarily buy into all of Walker’s reporting, such as the strong link he claims between not getting enough sleep and developing Alzheimer’s. In an effort to wake us all up to the harm of sleeping too little, he sometimes reports as fact what science has not yet clearly demonstrated. But even if you apply a mild discount factor, Why We Sleep is an important and fascinating book.Because this is a short review, I’ll answer a few questions that I suspect are top of mind for you.Does everyone really need seven or eight hours of sleep a night? The answer is that you almost certainly do, even if you’ve convinced yourself otherwise. In the words of Dr. Thomas Roth, of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, “The number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without impairment, and rounded to a whole number, is zero.”Why do we sleep? After all, when you’re sleeping—and all animals do—you can’t hunt, gather, eat, reproduce, or defend yourself. Yet Walker concludes that the evolutionary upsides of sleep are far greater than these downsides. In brief, sleep produces complex neurochemical baths that improve our brains in various ways. And it “restocks the armory of our immune system, helping fight malignancy, preventing infection, and warding off all manner of sickness.” In other words, sleep greatly enhances our evolutionary fitness—just in ways we can’t see.What can I do to improve my sleep hygiene?- Replace any LEDs bulbs in your bedroom, because they emit the most sleep-corroding blue light.- If you’re fortunate enough to be able to control the temperature where you live, set your bedroom to drop to 65 degrees at the time you intend to go to sleep. “To successfully initiate sleep … your core temperature needs to decrease by 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit,” according to Walker.- Limit alcohol, because alcohol is not a sleep aid, contrary to popular belief. While it might help induce sleep, “alcohol is one of the most powerful suppressors of REM [rapid-eye-movement] sleep,” Walker says.- If you can possibly take a short midday nap like our ancestors used to and some Mediterranean and South American cultures still do, you should (but no later than 3 pm). It will likely improve your creativity and coronary health as well as extend your lifetime.It took me a little longer than usual to finish Why We Sleep—ironically, because I kept following Walker’s advice to put down the book I was reading a bit earlier than I was used to, so I could get a better night’s sleep. But Walker taught me a lot about this basic activity that every person on Earth needs. I suspect his book will do the same for you.
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  • K.J. Charles
    January 1, 1970
    This book is genuinely terrifying. The author, a sleep scientist, lists the devastating consequences of getting less than 7-9 hours regularly and it is so much worse than you might have thought. SO much worse. We're basically all going to die. I'm not even kidding--being just an hour short on sleep a day will do serious damage to your immune system almost immediately, and the Western world is in the grip of a massive sleep deprivation epidemic. Lack of sleep is a carcinogen, literally. It also This book is genuinely terrifying. The author, a sleep scientist, lists the devastating consequences of getting less than 7-9 hours regularly and it is so much worse than you might have thought. SO much worse. We're basically all going to die. I'm not even kidding--being just an hour short on sleep a day will do serious damage to your immune system almost immediately, and the Western world is in the grip of a massive sleep deprivation epidemic. Lack of sleep is a carcinogen, literally. It also destroys your ability to control your emotions and understand those of others, your memory, your creativity; it predisposes you to eat more *and* to put on more weight; oh, and it is closely linked to ADHD for the young and Alzheimers for the old. Basically, if you go on Twitter and think "why is everyone and everything so absolutely awful" it's probably related to society-wide chronic sleep deprivation that people don't even realise they have. This book is genuinely horrifying (ironically, it will keep you up all night fretting). Some of the more striking findings are the absolute madness of night shifts and junior doctor rotas, the self destructive cruelty of school starts that require kids to be awake at 6, and the hecatombs of deaths caused by tired drivers. We've once again managed to set up a social structure apparently designed to cause as much mental and emotional harm as possible to humans. Well done us. I would really like to dismiss all this as alarmist nonsense but the weight of research and the author's qualifications for writing this makes that quite hard, so instead I might just go to bed early forever. Really very scary and depressing to read, but seriously important. (Also highly readable and clearly written, unlike many books by experts for laypeople.)
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    For once, I actually mean five stars in the sense of "everybody should read this book." This book is highly readable but contains stunning information I'd never seen anywhere else (and includes numerous references to serious primary literature).I was reminded (stay with me here) of ancient Egyptian funerary practices. After carefully embalming organs like the heart and liver, and placing them in canopic jars, the Egyptians pulled the brain out with a hook and threw it away, because they didn't For once, I actually mean five stars in the sense of "everybody should read this book." This book is highly readable but contains stunning information I'd never seen anywhere else (and includes numerous references to serious primary literature).I was reminded (stay with me here) of ancient Egyptian funerary practices. After carefully embalming organs like the heart and liver, and placing them in canopic jars, the Egyptians pulled the brain out with a hook and threw it away, because they didn't really know what it was for. This is how most modern people approach sleep. We know it must be sort of important, because why else would it be there, but we're quite foggy on the specifics and tend to give it short shrift. At worst, we see it as an "annoying and enfeebling" obstacle to other uses of our time. Some standout topics here: your natural day/night pattern and the buildup of a chemical called adenosine in your brain that makes you sleepy, which contribute independently to your sleep cycle; and how caffeine and jetlag get you off your rhythm. (This was particularly interesting to me because I read this on a long flight. I never sleep on flights to Europe and this book explains why: I'm not sleep deprived enough to have excess adenosine to make me sleepy, plus it doesn't feel like nighttime yet when we depart. So my brain isn't interested in sleeping. When I arrive, my goal is to stay awake until 9pm and at first, it's easy. That's the "day" part of the circadian rhythm giving me a bit of a boost. But soon, that fades away and the extra adenosine comes crashing down.) The role of sleep in processing memories and new information: sorting out what's important, solidifying newly gained understanding, and turning traumatic experiences into bearable memories. How all creatures sleep, but in different ways that make the brain-repairing effects of sleep compatible with their environments. Some things that we think aid sleep, like alcohol and sleeping pills, are only useful if your goal is to lie inert in bed; they don't lead to true, restorative sleep. Oh, and the doctor who developed the system for medical residents, and insisted that long shifts and little sleep were essential training, was a big-time cocaine addict.There's some genuinely frightening information here as well. Sleep deficits cannot be made up (sleeping in on the weekends doesn't help) and lead to shorter lifespans. Lack of sleep contributes to Alzheimer's disease, mental illness, and cancer. (The WHO categorizes night shift work as a probable carcinogen.) Drowsy driving is more common than drunk driving and more dangerous. We may be seriously harming the country's teens by forcing them to wake up and go to high school at an hour so inimical to the circadian rhythm of that age group. I already follow the author's advice about "sleep hygiene" so I was mostly attuned to the scientific information and arguments here about social ills. Many people in my sleep-deprived cohort may be genuinely alarmed to read this book. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't! I read so many nonfiction books with titles like this one that are ho-hum--but this one's a humdinger.Review copy received from Edelweiss.
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  • Petra-X
    January 1, 1970
    Something to ponder; every living thing on earth is subject to the circadian (24 hour) rhythm. It is understandable why animals and plants need to be awake in daylight hours. Less so for fish that for thousands of generations have lived in underground rivers and have over the millenia lost the ability to even sense light. Even less so for bacteria. But still, all of us have this endogenous clock keeping time within us, keeping time with the sun.In the 1930s, a scientist, Nathaniel Kleitman and a Something to ponder; every living thing on earth is subject to the circadian (24 hour) rhythm. It is understandable why animals and plants need to be awake in daylight hours. Less so for fish that for thousands of generations have lived in underground rivers and have over the millenia lost the ability to even sense light. Even less so for bacteria. But still, all of us have this endogenous clock keeping time within us, keeping time with the sun.In the 1930s, a scientist, Nathaniel Kleitman and a colleague attempted to change their body clocks. They spent a month in a cave, 140 feet underground with no natural light and a constant temperature of 54 °F. They used lanterns to regulate their "daylight". Each day they slept for 9 hours, worked for 10 and rested for another 9. They measured the rhythm of their body temperatures but could not adjust either that or themselves to the 28-hour cycle, it stubbornly remained at 24 hours no matter what. One of the most intractible sleep disorders is that where the person's body clock does not conform to the universal circadian rhythm. The example given in the book is of a boy whose cycle shifts by an hour a day. For a few days a month he sleeps and is awake and working efficiently at the same time as his schoolmates. But nothing the doctor, the author could do, or any medication, could stop his natural wanting to sleep and wanting to wake to a 24 hour rhythm. The disorder made education very difficult, but as a man, he can work for himself and choose his own hours.
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  • JV (semi-hiatus)
    January 1, 1970
    Have you ever felt knackered that you needed to catch some z's hopefully to sleep back what you've previously lost? Have you not slept a wink even if you hit the hay awhile ago and just decided to take some sleeping and other sedating drugs just to make you sleep like a log, but then you would wake up feeling like a zombie of sorts? Well, have no fear, the doctor's here! Not me, okay? Mind you! "Ultimately, asking 'Why do we sleep?' was the wrong question. It implied there was a single function, Have you ever felt knackered that you needed to catch some z's hopefully to sleep back what you've previously lost? Have you not slept a wink even if you hit the hay awhile ago and just decided to take some sleeping and other sedating drugs just to make you sleep like a log, but then you would wake up feeling like a zombie of sorts? Well, have no fear, the doctor's here! Not me, okay? Mind you! "Ultimately, asking 'Why do we sleep?' was the wrong question. It implied there was a single function, one holy grail of a reason that we slept, and we went in search of it." For aeons, Mother Nature has been implementing this physiological need we all know as "sleep" — a "powerful elixir of wellness and vitality" that most of us take for granted (guilty me included)! Before we dive deep into this essential repose, know that this book is neither a self-help one nor it is a guide that will teach you how to have that restful sleep you're looking for, albeit there are 12 tips in the Appendix. Based on sleep science, Dr. Matthew Walker, a former psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School and now a neuroscience and psychology professor at UC Berkeley, examines sleep with in-depth analysis backed by years of scientific research letting us know that sleep and dreams are vital for our physical and mental wellness. How so? He tells us that, "Sleep enriches a diversity of functions, including our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions and choices. Benevolently servicing our psychological health, sleep recalibrates our emotional brain circuits, allowing us to navigate next-day social and psychological challenges with cool-headed composure." Dandy eh? For the average adult, 16 hours of wakefulness and 8 hours of sleep is the optimum balance. Caffeine and alcohol are also considered as two of the most common culprits from getting your much-needed slumber, not without evidence. Regarding insufficient sleep or not getting the same quality/quantity of it, you might want to hide under the sheets now as the next one will be a terrible and panic-inducing rollercoaster ride! Well, hang on to your pants and knickers, ladies and gents! Sleep loss inflicts such devastating effects on the brain, linking it to numerous neurological and psychiatric conditions (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, suicide, stroke, and chronic pain), and on every physiological system of the body, further contributing to countless disorders and disease (e.g., cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, infertility, weight gain, obesity, and immune deficiency). If that doesn't horrify you, I don't know what will! For those who are on a graveyard shift, you have been officially warned. "A number of prominent epidemiological studies have reported that nighttime shift work, and the disruption to circadian rhythms and sleep that it causes, up your odds of developing numerous different forms of cancer considerably." How... umm... reassuring, Dr. Walker! Nevertheless, thank you for that fact. Furthermore, have you ever heard about Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI)? Good grief! I would never ever touch that one within a ten-foot bargepole, but just so, you all must know that "a lack of sleep will kill a human being." There are also a lot of scientific terms here that might be familiar to you such as REM or NREM sleep, suprachiasmatic nucleus, circadian rhythm, melatonin, etc. None of which I will discuss in full detail lest my puny brain would unnaturally go supernova! Dreams are discussed here too, but I won't be delving on it. By the way, if you also want to magnetise someone with your looks, sense of humour, and personality, along with increasing your chances of landing your first sloppy snog or ultimately going for a home run (a titillating yee-haw!), well mates, heed the sleep scientist's advice: have some shut-eye! "Reproductive hormones, reproductive organs, and the very nature of physical attractiveness that has a say in reproductive opportunities: all are degraded by short sleeping. One can only imagine Narcissus being a solid eight-to nine-hour sleeper on the basis of the latter association, perhaps with an afternoon nap for good measure, taken beside the reflection pool." And there you go, dear folks! Sleep you must and sleep you will! Because I command thee! So, fare thee well! For now, I send thee up to the wooden hill to Bedfordshire! Get it? Good! Audiobook rating (narrated by Steve West):Narrative voice & style - ★★★Vocal characterisation - ★★★Inflexion & intonation - ★★★Voice quality - ★★★★Audiobook verdict - ★★★ (good performance overall, but he'll make you sleepy, which is the point of this book!)
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  • Clif Hostetler
    January 1, 1970
    The less you sleep the shorter your life span will be. Do I have your attention yet? If so read this excerpt from the beginning of this book (p3-5), and you will understand why this book caught my attention. This book is divided into four parts. Part 1 defines the nature and types of sleep, describes how the need for sleep changes over a life span, and goes on to discuss the evolutionary origins of sleep. Part 2 describes why you should sleep and lays out the dire consequences of not sleeping. The less you sleep the shorter your life span will be. Do I have your attention yet? If so read this excerpt from the beginning of this book (p3-5), and you will understand why this book caught my attention. This book is divided into four parts. Part 1 defines the nature and types of sleep, describes how the need for sleep changes over a life span, and goes on to discuss the evolutionary origins of sleep. Part 2 describes why you should sleep and lays out the dire consequences of not sleeping. Part 3 explains how and why we dream, and Part 4 takes on the broader societal issues in dealing with sleep needs. An Appendix is included for "Twelve Tips for Healthy Sleep."The primary message of this book is to emphasize the importance of adequate sleep. There are some suggestions included for obtaining adequate sleep, but the primary message is why it's important for health. An indication of how important is that lab mice that are deprived of sleep die sooner than those deprived of food. The book ties the lack of sleep to numerous illnesses, and then proceeds to make the case that lack of sleep is either the cause or part of a negative feedback loop making the illness worse. By describing physiological and neurological interactions the author is able to show how lack of sleep is involved in these processes. Then population and diseases statistics are referenced to verify the involvement sleep or lack of sleep.For many readers of this book the author will come across as an alarmist because he takes issue with so many things that we assume to be part of normal life. He makes a case that the early hours for beginning school makes no sense for optimum student performance. He sites one study that showed the average IQ of students in a school district was increased by starting school later. The author also makes a case for ending the practice of giving medical interns long work hours. Some readers will not appreciate the negative things that the author has to say about caffeine and alcohol. Incidentally, if you think alcohol helps you to sleep you need to see what this book has to say about that.The following are four things I learned from this book that I decided are worth highlighting here:1. Sleep is the process by which the body removes waste products of metabolism from the brain. (This includes amyloid proteins which are associated with Alzheimer disease.)2. People who are sleep deprived show reduced sensitivity to insulin. (This is a precursor for diabetes.)3. Sleep deprived people experience hormonal changes that increases hunger and decreases satiation. (This leads of obesity and the resulting consequences including diabetes and heart disease.)4. Sleep plays an important role in changing new memories into long term memories. (Sleep is better than studying all night.)The following are excerpts and quotations taken from the book with my introductory remarks:Are you a night owl or morning lark? Here's a link to an excerpt (p20-25) on that subject.Here's a link to an excerpt (p68-61) about Biphasic sleep.Lack of sleep is such a common experience for many of us that at first it's hard to believe the case being made by this book: "...linking it [lack of sleep] to numerous neurological and psychiatric conditions (e.g. Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, suicide, stroke, and chronic pain), and on every physiological system of the body, further contributing to countless disorders and disease (e.g., cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, infertility, weight gain, obesity, and immune deficiency). No facet of the human body is spared the crippling, noxious harm of sleep loss." (p133) The book makes a convincing case that: "We are … socially, organizationally, economically, physically, behaviorally, nutritionally, linguistically, cognitively, and emotionally dependent upon sleep." (p133)I've included the following quotation since it applies to many today who live busy lives, including me somtimes. Researchers have evaluated performance of sleep impaired individuals and have found some sobering facts: Most worrying from a societal perspective, were the individuals in the group who obtained six hours of sleep a night, something that may sound similar to many of you. Ten days of six hours of sleep per night was all it took to become as impaired in performance as going without sleep for twenty-four hours straight. (p136)Here's another quotation that caught my eye:There is no major psychiatric condition in which sleep is normal. This is true of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. (p149)Regarding cardiovascular health:Adults forty-five years or older who sleep fewer than six hours a night are 200% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke during their lifetime, as compared with those sleeping seven to eight hours a night.(p165)Concerned about cancer?…the scientific evidence linking sleep disruption and cancer is so damning that the World Health Organization has officially designated nighttime shift work as a "probable carcinogen."(p186)Lack of sleep can leave you more prone to Alzheimers disease.
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  • Warwick
    January 1, 1970
    Matthew Walker really, really thinks we all need some serious shut-eye, and he's not messing around when it comes to getting you on board – he hits you with both barrels on page one, and never lets up:Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer's disease. Inadequate sleep—even moderate reductions for just one week— Matthew Walker really, really thinks we all need some serious shut-eye, and he's not messing around when it comes to getting you on board – he hits you with both barrels on page one, and never lets up:Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer's disease. Inadequate sleep—even moderate reductions for just one week—disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic. Short sleeping increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path to cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure […] sleep disruption further contributes to all major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality.And this is supposed to help me sleep better!? At least before, I just used to lie there going over the same three lines from ‘I Just Can't Wait to be King’; now, if I so much as drift into momentary consciousness at two a.m., I end up paralysed with alertness, calculating the gradually rising odds that my obese, cancer-ridden body will only cease to be a concern thanks to the merciful onset of my crippling dementia.Eventually Walker just comes right out and admits that as far as the science is concerned, ‘wakefulness is low-level brain damage’, at which point you start to wonder how far he's really going to take this whole unconsciousness thing. But by then the damage is done. Your life is different. Come evening, when Hannah is pouring herself a glass of Sancerre and playing Gaga, I now appear in the doorway in my slippers, with a hot-water bottle clutched under one arm and a toothbrush jutting from my jaws. It may feel antisocial, but anything seems preferable to inviting the heart disease, obesity, cystitis, tennis elbow and plagues of locusts that Walker is otherwise promising.A while back I got a Fitbit, which allows me to see in appalling detail just how much sleep I sometimes fail to get – the hypnograms, with their discrete stages of slumber, never quite stretching as far as you'd like them to. Thanks to this book, it's now possible to quantify exactly what I'm missing out on during such nights, as scientists have mapped more of the neurochemical processes involved than I ever realised: the deep, NREM sleep where memories are carefully transferred from short-term to long-term memory; then the ‘informational alchemy’ of REM-sleep dreaming, which sharpens creativity and conjures up solutions to our daytime problems.The importance of sleep can be further appraised by its evolutionary heritage – it goes back about as far as life on earth. Walker finds that even ‘the very simplest form of unicellular organisms that survive for periods exceeding twenty-four hours, such as bacteria, have active and passive phases that correspond to the light-dark cycle of our planet’. Sleep is about the first thing natural selection locked in for us, and as far as we can tell every animal does it.One always understood that sleep was a healthy thing, but somehow a full night of it is still often viewed as a luxury. On the evidence of this book, it's more like a medical necessity. Given working practices in many parts of the world, this is a big problem, and indeed part of Walker's mission is to explain that much of the developed world is suffering from a serious, chronic sleep deficit which is ultimately ‘a slow form of self-euthanasia’ – he is talking not just to individual sleepers, but to businesses and governments who have some responsibility to take what he says into account.The difference between a four-star book and a five-star one is that while I might love both of them, I can keep a four-star book to myself, whereas a five-star book is one I can't shut up about to everyone around me. On that basis, despite its occasional infelicities, Why We Sleep makes the grade. It's passionate and clearly written, summarises a huge amount of research about which I knew little, and addresses a subject that obviously deserves the attention. It would take someone a lot more cynical than me to read this and not silently decide to make a few lifestyle changes – on which note, if you'll excuse me, I have some intensive, hi-octane pillow time to get to.
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  • Trevor
    January 1, 1970
    So, this book is both a must read and deeply, deeply disturbing. I’ve been having trouble sleeping for the last few years and now I’m going to have to do something about it, simple as that, because the consequences of not sleeping properly are appalling. For instance, it provides you, free of charge, with an increased risk of diabetes, dementia (in all its fun and various guises), weight gain, heart disease and even accidental death. And the situation is getting worse. We are losing sleep at a So, this book is both a must read and deeply, deeply disturbing. I’ve been having trouble sleeping for the last few years and now I’m going to have to do something about it, simple as that, because the consequences of not sleeping properly are appalling. For instance, it provides you, free of charge, with an increased risk of diabetes, dementia (in all its fun and various guises), weight gain, heart disease and even accidental death. And the situation is getting worse. We are losing sleep at a rate of knots as we squeeze the nights from both ends. Add to that the fact that our world is now awash with night-time blue light – the frequency of light we have used to tell us it is day-time ever since before we were even fish – and this particular self-created train wreck just keeps a-roll’n along.There were times in this where he would say things and I would think, ‘oh yeah, see that, you’ve gone too far this time’ – for instance, his saying that driving with a sleep deficit is worse than driving while drunk, having done both, I figured I knew better. But then he justifies this by saying that when you are drunk your reaction times are reduced, but you generally still react – but when you are sleep deprived you drop (without warning) into micro sleeps and while in them you do not react at all. You know, you are asleep. And then he reminds us of the stereotypical truck driver (by the way, in most states in the US, there are more truck drivers than any other occupation). Truck drivers are often over-weight, which is directly correlated with sleep apnoea, that is, a condition likely to increase the number of times you fall into micro-sleeps. Did I mention I found this book terrifying?The other bit of this that really struck me was the correlation between anxiety and a lack of sleep. It is almost as if we are unable to trust people as we get less and less sleep. And this also translates into an inability to lay down new memories – that is, learn things. In fact, something students often do is stay up all night studying for an exam – on the basis of ‘never do today what you can do five minutes before it is almost too late’. But such a lack of sleep is likely to leave them feeling under-confident, anxious and also seriously impaired in their ability to actually learn and remember anything they have spent the night staring blankly at. This is part of the reason why he says the shift in the US towards earlier school starting times is such a bad idea. He presents an evolutionary biology just-so story that goes: adolescents need a safe-ish way to move out of the parental nest. They do this by their body clock shifting so they stay awake later (when their parents are asleep), so they can interact with other young people in a relatively safe environment, and this means they therefore wake later than their parents too. But then we force them out of bed at 6 or earlier to cross town to go to a school that starts at 7am, and getting up at that time feels to them like getting out of bed at 4am, bad things are likely to happen. How can they possibly learn in that state? Whether or not the evolutionary story is right, it does seem teens do need to stay up later and to sleep in longer, and we ought to respect that. It also seems there is such a thing as night-owls, and our forcing them to work at the crack of dawn is just as cruel and just as stupid as our forcing teenagers to do the same thing.You need to get hold of this book and to read it – and it is written by someone who does research in the field, so, not just some random guy who likes nice good sleep-in in the morning and figures you should like it too. I can’t tell you how many times I thought while reading this, ‘oh, for god’s sake’. This was not the mirror I felt I needed to look into at the moment, but then, I guess that means it is exactly the mirror I needed to look into.
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    This is such an excellent book, mainly because I had never thought very much about the need for a good night's rest. The first part of this book does not really address "why we sleep". Instead, the book describes "what happens if we do not get enough sleep." Not until about halfway through the book, does the question "why we sleep" really get answered.The author, Matthew Walker, is a professor of neuroscience and psychology. I always prefer to read science-related books that are written by This is such an excellent book, mainly because I had never thought very much about the need for a good night's rest. The first part of this book does not really address "why we sleep". Instead, the book describes "what happens if we do not get enough sleep." Not until about halfway through the book, does the question "why we sleep" really get answered.The author, Matthew Walker, is a professor of neuroscience and psychology. I always prefer to read science-related books that are written by scientists who are actively doing research in the field. They are the most authoritative, and they best understand all of the nuances involved in the interpretation of experimental results. As long as the science book is well written--and this book is definitely written in an engaging style--I always prefer to read a book written by an active researcher.The author divides a night's sleep into two primary portions; the early portion is characterized mostly by NREM (non-REM) sleep, while the later portion is mostly REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movements). Both portions are essential. NREM sleep helps one to cement memories into permanent storage, while REM sleep helps one to apply past experiences to solve problems. If you skimp on either portion, then your brain has a very difficult time recuperating. The book describes, in just the right amount of detail, a host of experiments that have shown the deleterious consequences of insufficient sleep. And, I was really surprised by the range of consequences, and their seriousness. This book has thoroughly convinced me to make every effort to get a full night's sleep; at least 7 hours, and preferably 8 hours.I am not going to try to recap the myriad consequences of insufficient sleep. Suffice it to say, they are truly scary. This is a fascinating book, and I highly recommend it to everyone who sleeps.I didn't read this book; I listened to the audiobook version, as narrated by Steve West. He does a very good job keeping my interest throughout his narration.
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  • Hamad
    January 1, 1970
    This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” I am still on a quest to discover more non-fiction books, that started last year and I am willing to continue this year. So when Tala (Who also happens to be a medical student in my class) recommended this, I knew that I had to read it! I also had the same first question that most of us will think of: How a ~370 pages book is filled with things on This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”🌟 I am still on a quest to discover more non-fiction books, that started last year and I am willing to continue this year. So when Tala (Who also happens to be a medical student in my class) recommended this, I knew that I had to read it!🌟 I also had the same first question that most of us will think of: How a ~370 pages book is filled with things on sleep?! This book answered many questions that I had thought about in my long sleepless nights. It explains why do we need to sleep, the evolutionary role of sleep, why do we dream and what are the benefits of dreaming, Why do we as teenagers and new adults like to go to sleep late while adults go early, why do you feel tired after you pull an all-nighter but then gradually get energized! And one of my favorite things is explaining why we like to keep one foot out of the bed at night!!🌟 What is cooler about this is that it does so in a simple language that everyone can understand. No need to be in the medical field to do so. If you are interested in sleep then you should read this!🌟 One of my professors once told me that people like to view the world in what they are best at. So a doctor will see everything as physiology and pathology, an engineer will see things as equations, numbers and drawings, a chemist will announce the secret of life as Alchemy. So a sleep scientist will explain everything by -you guessed it- Sleep!As much as I enjoyed the book, I thought it was trying too much sometimes! There was a graph depicting the relationship between Obesity and sleep and it shows that through the years we have been sleeping less and thus becoming more obese. Which has a certain truth to it but we can not ignore the changes in food and lifestyles too!🌟 Also the author would tell you that if you don’t sleep well (I assure you that 99% of us don’t) then you will get Alzheimer, cancers, obesity, diabetes and all sort of things… If you find this idea uncomfortable then you may want to skip this.🌟 Summary & Prescription: I really enjoyed this book as much as I expected to. It is kind of scientific but still awesome to read. I like that the author provided concrete evidence -Although I want to discuss some things further more- through the book and that it was not all theories. I recommend this for all of you looking for a non-fiction book and are interested in Sleep!Happy reading and Sleep tight I guess?
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  • Kamil
    January 1, 1970
    There's an overwhelmingly positive experience I had with this book. For most of it, Walker talks about his research (and his colleagues) surrounding the sleep and those arguments are fascinating and convincing. However, there are moments, mostly closer to the end of it, when you feel like you are listening to a sales pitch. First of all, I dislike when somebody uses percentage without reference, ie "it's a 150% growth" as it might easily mean it was 1% in the past and now is 2,5% (150% growth), There's an overwhelmingly positive experience I had with this book. For most of it, Walker talks about his research (and his colleagues) surrounding the sleep and those arguments are fascinating and convincing. However, there are moments, mostly closer to the end of it, when you feel like you are listening to a sales pitch. First of all, I dislike when somebody uses percentage without reference, ie "it's a 150% growth" as it might easily mean it was 1% in the past and now is 2,5% (150% growth), which in some situation might be significant in others not at all. Second, the seek for real-life examples of dangers of the lack of sleep was on the border of simplification, as even though I didn't research it I'm pretty sure (due to the simple application of logic) that most outcomes are caused by a conglomerate of factors. When he talked about a drop in teenage accidents when school hours were moved one hour later, I couldn't stop thinking, that maybe it's not all necessary due to the fact that they drive better being well rested. For sure that's a factor but maybe if school started at 9, the hour most of the office jobs start, maybe some parents would drive the kids to school. This is just an example but that was bugging me.When he mentions in passing Chernobyl disaster and blames it on lack of sleep, I was thinking it's such a shame that he sells himself so short, as this book is a great scientific study of sleep while this argument is just bananas. Sure tiredness played some role but the disaster was mostly caused by inherent design flaws and violation of safety measures. All in all, a good read, just bear in mind he probably has a good intention in mind but is sometimes a bit blinded by his agenda.
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  • Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    You know, I'm not usually one to tout NY Times bestsellers, but in this particular case, I want to mention that...This kinda should be required reading for everyone. Why? Because despite the rather innocuous title and no-nonsense factual information being presented, with no less than 750 scientific studies supporting the findings within, the author OUGHT to have been screaming that we're all freaking fools and morons.Sure, I've heard of some of the studies, such as the ones related to the huge You know, I'm not usually one to tout NY Times bestsellers, but in this particular case, I want to mention that...This kinda should be required reading for everyone. Why? Because despite the rather innocuous title and no-nonsense factual information being presented, with no less than 750 scientific studies supporting the findings within, the author OUGHT to have been screaming that we're all freaking fools and morons.Sure, I've heard of some of the studies, such as the ones related to the huge probability of obesity and depression and cancer rates for people who don't get 8 hours of sleep, but when we see all the other facts involved with it are all laid out, I frankly despair. Our societies are made up of complete idiots. Most of the most powerful and necessary REM sleep happens in the last block of sleep, between 6-8 hours. Most of us are reducing our sleep to 6 or less. Learning and retention and memory decrease as if you're constantly drunk, and the long-term effects short circuit all rational behaviors. We eat more because we act high. We get into more car accidents. Test performance is abysmal, as is our moods, our ability to digest foods properly, and our ability to resist the flu drops from an 18% chance at 8 hours of sleep to a whopping 50% chance when you get less than 6 hours. These are studies, based on people who, in a controlled environment, are swabbed with the sick. Think about that. Add VERY significant numbers to cancer, suicide, and total life dissatisfaction, and the picture becomes very dire.Oh, and sleeping pills short-circuit the REM cycle. As do drugs for ADHD. This is the funniest and most horrible thing I picked up here: Teens all have a natural change in their circadian rhythm. They all become night owls. So WTF are we forcing them to get up earlier and earlier to go to school? They AREN'T getting enough sleep. So what happens? They go in, do abysmally in school, show all the same symptoms as ADHD, get diagnosed with ADHD, and then get drugs to help them concentrate while only making the fundamental problem of not getting enough REM sleep WORSE.*slow clap*Idiots.And I'm talking about ALL of us. Long term sleep deprivation is the thing we do to TORTURE PEOPLE WE DON'T LIKE. And yet, there's this thing about rewarding long work cycles, turning people in unthinking zombies with decreasing work productivity JUST BECAUSE we're trying to squeeze out that last hour of work? It's KILLING US. Literally. Our minds aren't working well enough to even realize there's a problem. Put a STOP to this! Seriously, folks! This is right up there with dancing around in a cloud of radium. Oh, look, it's so pretty!This is science, folks. Not a fad. Don't be an idiot.
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  • Lubinka Dimitrova
    January 1, 1970
    Hands down, one of the best books I read this year (more like ever, to be honest). So, a miracle drug has been discovered. A revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Sleep! Who would Hands down, one of the best books I read this year (more like ever, to be honest). So, a miracle drug has been discovered. A revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Sleep! Who would have imagined?! And on the other hand, failing to get this drug will result in extensive damage to your overall health, and no aspect of your biology would be left unscathed. Sleep deprivation! Many of us are bizarrely convinced that getting by with constantly less hours of sleep is actually a sign of coolness and exceptional abilities to function as a super-human. Due to this utter ignorance about the importance and the complexity of sleep’s role in our lives, we do a great disservice to ourselves and mostly to our children, who grow up with the notion that getting enough sleep could be labeled as laziness. Instead, we should realize that our sleeping hours are not an endless resource from which we can borrow limitless amounts of time "to do productive work", as I personally very often do (I really wished to be able to say "did", but alas, I've only managed to lightly reduce this vice). They are not. And the work of a sleep deprived person isn't as productive as one'd imagine. Eventually the constant low level exhaustion becomes our accepted norm. We fail to recognize how our habitual state of sleep deficiency has come to compromise our mental aptitude and physical vitality, resulting in the slow accumulation of ill health. I picked up this book with an inquiring mind, perhaps hoping to find a technique or two to improve my sleep, after obtaining a better understanding of its underlying mechanisms. As it turns out, it gave me nightmares. Still, I'm glad that I got this insight before I die a depressed, obese, demented diabetic, because I "must" work late or I "must" watch the silly movie till the end, well beyond midnight. Next, I'm reading "Go the fuck to sleep".
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  • Bharath
    January 1, 1970
    Sleep has been a big mystery for long, as it has been unclear what purpose it serves, and why natural selection did not weed it out. After all, in earlier times, the period of sleep must have been one of considerable danger for humans (and even now for many animals and birds). And yet, sleep is a common requirement across the animal kingdom as well. In fact, birds and some sea creatures have the remarkable ability to sleep half a brain at a time. Matthew Walker is a sleep scientist and does an Sleep has been a big mystery for long, as it has been unclear what purpose it serves, and why natural selection did not weed it out. After all, in earlier times, the period of sleep must have been one of considerable danger for humans (and even now for many animals and birds). And yet, sleep is a common requirement across the animal kingdom as well. In fact, birds and some sea creatures have the remarkable ability to sleep half a brain at a time. Matthew Walker is a sleep scientist and does an exceptional job in this book of explaining what sleep achieves for us. In fact, sleep deprivation is extremely dangerous and there is not enough awareness of this. Modern lifestyle has dealt a blow to both our duration and quality of sleep, and the effects are already quite apparent.While sleep has not completely revealed all its mysteries to us, a lot is now known after painstaking research over several years. Our sleep shuffles between NREM, Light and REM sleep – and all of them have their purpose. NREM sleep fortifies our memory helping in longer term recall, while REM sleep & dreams lend emotional balance and help us get to the big picture. The book discusses a large number of experiments detailing what happens when we skip sleep. Depending on the sleep cycle and the quantum of deprivation, the ill effects are nothing short of disastrous – lower immunity, failing memory, loss of emotional balance, pre-disposition to serious diseases such as diabetes, dementia and even cancer. Getting adequate sleep (~8 hours) on the other hand makes people more creative & productive other than being healthy.Somehow, our cultures today do not emphasise the importance of sleep, as much as we do exercise and diet. So much so, that sleeping less is mistakenly regarded as a confirmation of working hard and being more ambitious. The assumption that each of us can do with varying periods of sleep is largely a myth as well. While a genetic mutation allows a few to function effectively with around 6 hours of sleep, this is extremely rare. Almost all of us do need ~8 hours of sleep. There are tips on improving sleep quantity as well as quality all through the book, such as regulating caffeine in the later part of the day. Most of us are guilty of not according sleep the importance it deserves, and this book is an eye opener. This is a book everyone should read. There are very important points of note for individuals, educational institutions, hospitals, organisations and even governments.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    We often hear that sleep, diet and exercise are the three pillars of health, but Walker, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, goes further: he believes sleep is the platform on which diet and exercise rest. Getting 7–9 hours of sleep a night is not some luxury to aim for but an absolute essential for the brain to process new information and prepare for receiving more the next day. Dreaming is like overnight therapy, and fuels creativity. Sleep deprivation has We often hear that sleep, diet and exercise are the three pillars of health, but Walker, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, goes further: he believes sleep is the platform on which diet and exercise rest. Getting 7–9 hours of sleep a night is not some luxury to aim for but an absolute essential for the brain to process new information and prepare for receiving more the next day. Dreaming is like overnight therapy, and fuels creativity. Sleep deprivation has been associated with dementia and cancer: it’s no accident that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, who prided themselves on getting by on just five hours of sleep a night, both developed Alzheimer’s. Just a few nights of insufficient sleep can weaken the immune system and increase the risks of developing a serious illness. It’s no wonder Walker calls sleep loss an epidemic.Here are some other facts I gleaned:During primate evolution, the transition to sleeping on the ground instead of in trees meant we could sleep more deeply – not having to worry about falling out – and the resulting increase in REM sleep and dreams contributed to the development of complex culture and creativity.Fetuses are asleep most of the time; they kick in their sleep. Alcohol use during pregnancy or breastfeeding can lead to a decline in the offspring’s sleep quality or quantity.People with autism get 30–50% less REM sleep than neurotypical people.The postprandial slump in energy many of us experience is evolutionarily inbuilt, and suggests that a short nap (30–40 minutes) would be natural and beneficial. For instance, some African tribespeople still regularly nap at the hottest point of the day.Walker’s sleep tips are mostly common-sense stuff you will have heard before. His #1 piece of advice is to have a sleep schedule, always going to sleep and waking up at the same time. (“Catching up” on weekends doesn’t work, though napping before 3 p.m. can.) Set an alarm for bedtime so you’ll stick to it, he suggests.It’s a fairly long and dense book, with smallish type and scientific figures, so I knew I was unlikely to read the whole thing, but enjoyed mining it for fascinating information about evolution, neuroscience and child development.Originally published, along with some personal reflections, on my blog, Bookish Beck.
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  • James Hartley
    January 1, 1970
    This is going to sound naive but it still surprises me that so many scientists can be so vain. I like to imagine them outside and above such concerns but of course they arent: theyre as human as the rest of us. They want to win prizes, "go down in history", have students applaud them in lectures and be popular.Walker is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and tours, lectures and writes on sleep and sleep science. This book - which can be read in or This is going to sound naive but it still surprises me that so many scientists can be so vain. I like to imagine them outside and above such concerns but of course they aren´t: they´re as human as the rest of us. They want to win prizes, "go down in history", have students applaud them in lectures and be popular.Walker is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and tours, lectures and writes on sleep and sleep science. This book - which can be read in or out of order - covers all the topics you would expect (Why We Sleep, Why We Dream, etc) and if there is a message it is that modern life and modern technology (not to mention pills, booze and other drugs) are affecting our natural sleep patterns and having grave societal consequences.The problem for me with the book is the style. This book is popular science by numbers and, while informative and, in a few cases, enlightening, it is on the whole exactly what every other popular science book is like. There are the "let me make this simple for you" analogies. There are the descriptions of experiments included as evidence as "ingenious", "clever", "fascinating". There is the slightly over-baked flagwaving on behalf of a subject - in this case - "sleep" which sometimes tips over into ridiculousness (Walker says at one point that life´s natural state is sleep, not wakefulness, although he almost immediately takes it back).I don´t know. Maybe I just took it wrong. Maybe I just don´t sleep enough (my neighbours woke me this morning banging about at 6am) and as I write that I can almost hear Walker humming and rubbing his hand through his fringe and saying, "ya see? ya see?"Too much popular and not enough science for me.
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  • André Oliveira
    January 1, 1970
    This was good! It contains a lot of scientific information about sleep and dreams.It was interesting and sometimes boring, but you know what, as the author says at the beginning of the book:Should you feel drowsy and fall asleep while reading the book, unlike most authors, I will not be disheartened. Indeed, based on the topic and content of this book, I am actively going to encourage you that kind of behaviour from you.
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  • Faye*
    January 1, 1970
    This was so much better than I expected! This is one of those books you just want to buy 20 of to gift to your family and friends. I seriously recommend you read this, especially all of you bookworms who read deep into the night sacrificing your sleep on a regular basis. This was so much better than I expected! This is one of those books you just want to buy 20 of to gift to your family and friends. I seriously recommend you read this, especially all of you bookworms who read deep into the night sacrificing your sleep on a regular basis. 😉
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  • Nicole (Read Eat Sleep Repeat)
    January 1, 1970
    “Sleep is nonnegotiable.”I love sleep, and I constantly find myself drawn to books on the topic. Not only was Why We Sleep was a thorough exploration of sleep and its many aspects, full of scientific fact, theory, and study, but it was also highly engaging. The audiobook narration was also spot on, making for an unputdownable reading experience. Highly recommended.
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  • Vanessa
    January 1, 1970
    I am obsessed with learning about sleep, and sleep hygiene. I will read article after article on the topic, even if it's just regurgitating the same old stuff. It just feels calming to me. Despite that though, I'm quite bad at practicing what I preach (to my husband and anyone else who will listen).This book is anything but calming however. In fact, it will put the fear of god into you. It is however the most informative text I have ever read on the topic of sleep and dreams, and I believe it I am obsessed with learning about sleep, and sleep hygiene. I will read article after article on the topic, even if it's just regurgitating the same old stuff. It just feels calming to me. Despite that though, I'm quite bad at practicing what I preach (to my husband and anyone else who will listen).This book is anything but calming however. In fact, it will put the fear of god into you. It is however the most informative text I have ever read on the topic of sleep and dreams, and I believe it will have a genuine effect on how I go about prioritising sleep from now on.It can be a touch dry at times, particularly in the first few chapters, but it is at the same time utterly fascinating. The amount of facts I have regurgitated to family and friends while reading this book is ridiculous. I drank up the knowledge this book gave me, the crazy research experiments, the humour that Matthew Walker exhibits. And often I gave into sleep after reading only a few pages at a time - not because I was bored mind you, but because the author gave me permission to. And that is amazing, and something I should give into more often in the future.Well worth a read if you have any interest at all in one of the most basic and necessary of human functions.
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  • Laurie Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone should read this book.
  • Olive
    January 1, 1970
    Check out my review on booktube: https://youtu.be/vKPh0TE1an8
  • Sad Sunday (If I say it's bad, it's bad)
    January 1, 1970
    Finally, the book whose author actually said that he will be happy if a reader fell asleep while reading it. Great book! I have to admit, I skipped a few chapters due to my incompetence in sleep science. But I am still rating it 5* stars since it was a great and interesting read. In my opinion M.P.Walker said everything about sleep that could be said. The thing I liked the most was the style - it had a flowing continuity that was easy to understand for an average reader (I like stuff called Finally, the book whose author actually said that he will be happy if a reader fell asleep while reading it. Great book! I have to admit, I skipped a few chapters due to my incompetence in sleep science. But I am still rating it 5* stars since it was a great and interesting read. In my opinion M.P.Walker said everything about sleep that could be said. The thing I liked the most was the style - it had a flowing continuity that was easy to understand for an average reader (I like stuff called popular science, but some authors just write pure science that is hard and complicated, and makes you sleepy too...) M.P.Walker manages to address even the oddest facts of sleep with fun and yet scientific attitude. The examples he chooses are relevant and relatable, author know how to make a point without preaching. You will get a tons of arguments to explain people why you are an owl, why school should start later, why you shouldn't take sleeping pills, and damn, why we sleep.
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  • Leah Nadeau
    January 1, 1970
    Holy crap what an AMAZING book! I looooooved this. I had no idea how important sleep was to us... Everyone should read this. There is such a lack of education from sleep. Sleep is more important than diet and exercise. As an adult you need between7-9hr of sleep per night. Sleeping pills don't do shit. Youth and elderly need sleeping the most. If you don't allow teenagers their much needed sleep it increases the chance they will have a mental conditional, higher chance of suicide and so much Holy crap what an AMAZING book! I looooooved this. I had no idea how important sleep was to us... Everyone should read this. There is such a lack of education from sleep. Sleep is more important than diet and exercise. As an adult you need between7-9hr of sleep per night. Sleeping pills don't do shit. Youth and elderly need sleeping the most. If you don't allow teenagers their much needed sleep it increases the chance they will have a mental conditional, higher chance of suicide and so much more. There was one guy who literally couldn't sleep, he didn't sleep for 10 months and he actually died. He just shrivelled away into nothing, he wasn't even able to talk, he just turned into a zombie. Sleep rejuvenates us, it cleans up the mess we made when we're awake and we learn and process everything from the day.Some plants have circadian rhythm which means plants in total darkness will still bloom during day time and close up at night even with no sunHumans circadian Rhythms actually 24 hours and 15min but that’s too confusing to work with so we use 24hrWe all synchronize with daylight, sun goes up, sun goes down. Also repeating food, exercise, temperature fluctuation, even regularly timed social interaction can set your clockDecaf doesn’t mean no caffeine it’s about 30% caffeine still in thereHalf life of a drug means how many hours did it take for the drug to be 50% gone from the system and for caffeine that’s about 5-7hr. So if you have a coffee at 6pm that means 50% of it is still in your system at 1-2am. You loose the jolt though
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  • Darian Onaciu
    January 1, 1970
    If you've ever slept you should read this book.I always thought that sleep was a waste of time which drains away about a third of our life. So why bother with it? Why would I not sleep as little as possible and spend my waking time doing things I like?Well, it seems that there are a throng of reasons why we shouldn't do this, all of them drawn from scientific research.Let me illustrate this with a quote from the book: “Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live If you've ever slept you should read this book.I always thought that sleep was a waste of time which drains away about a third of our life. So why bother with it? Why would I not sleep as little as possible and spend my waking time doing things I like?Well, it seems that there are a throng of reasons why we shouldn't do this, all of them drawn from scientific research.Let me illustrate this with a quote from the book: “Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?”Yep, that's what sleep does and guess what: you're probably doing it wrong. The tricky part is that both quantity and quality matter.The book guides you on the journey to sleep better and improve your quality of life tremendously.Given the fact that we spend so much of our life sleeping, I highly recommend this book in order to understand sleep better and improve it.
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  • Eli
    January 1, 1970
    There was nothing really new here but I really liked how the author showed the importance of sleep! I also read this in a really stressful time in my life and I'm now really convinced that sleep is the best thing everrrrrrrso yay to taking naps without feeling guilty!
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  • Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    My favourite book of 2018 so far and one of my all time non-fiction favourites.So much in there that just makes sense and explains a lot - wish that I had read this 30 years ago when I started my working life but without giving too much away I shall be making sure that I get my 7 to 8 hours sleep every night (if I do have to work late, I'll make sure that I don't have an early start the next day) , refrain from alcohol just before sleep, avoid looking at my phone in the evening (blue light which My favourite book of 2018 so far and one of my all time non-fiction favourites.So much in there that just makes sense and explains a lot - wish that I had read this 30 years ago when I started my working life but without giving too much away I shall be making sure that I get my 7 to 8 hours sleep every night (if I do have to work late, I'll make sure that I don't have an early start the next day) , refrain from alcohol just before sleep, avoid looking at my phone in the evening (blue light which makes your brain think it's daytime), never drive when feeling tired, take exercise at least 2 hours before bed. I don't drink coffee late in the day (or at all) or take sleeping pills but if you do then you need to stop ! This is the must read of must reads - everyone needs to read it to take advantage of the best medicine around - sleep. P.S. This took me longer to read than it would otherwise have done as I've now stopped staying up too late reading, no matter how addictive the book is. .....
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  • Viv JM
    January 1, 1970
    Squeezed by the vise grips of an electrified night and early-morning start times, bereft of twenty-four-hour thermal cycles, and with caffeine and alcohol surging through us in various quantities, many of us feel rightly exhausted and crave that which seems always elusive: a full, restful night of natural deep sleep. This book is a fascinating look at the purpose and benefits of sleep, including the importance of different stages in the sleep cycle. The author describes the myriad of physical Squeezed by the vise grips of an electrified night and early-morning start times, bereft of twenty-four-hour thermal cycles, and with caffeine and alcohol surging through us in various quantities, many of us feel rightly exhausted and crave that which seems always elusive: a full, restful night of natural deep sleep. This book is a fascinating look at the purpose and benefits of sleep, including the importance of different stages in the sleep cycle. The author describes the myriad of physical and mental health problems that can be caused by a lack of sleep, as well as the ways in which our modern lives contribute to a society wide sleep deficit. The scientific content is well explained and injected with occasional humour, making this a very readable book. I have always been aware of the importance of sleep to my own personal wellbeing but this book backs up my intuitive sense of this with sound scientific reasoning and I will certainly continue to carefully guard my sleep opportunities!
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  • Otis Chandler
    January 1, 1970
    The author, Matthew Walker, makes a compelling case for sleep that frankly even after having read many articles about the importance of sleep, and even watching his TED talk, changed my perspective. It has convinced me that I have likely been under-slept much of the past 10 years (3 kids and a busy job will make it hard), and that has been a negative contributor to my health and well being. Specifically, I have always been of the belief that I am a person who can subsist on 6-7 hours of sleep, The author, Matthew Walker, makes a compelling case for sleep that frankly even after having read many articles about the importance of sleep, and even watching his TED talk, changed my perspective. It has convinced me that I have likely been under-slept much of the past 10 years (3 kids and a busy job will make it hard), and that has been a negative contributor to my health and well being. Specifically, I have always been of the belief that I am a person who can subsist on 6-7 hours of sleep, but this book makes me believe I need to be getting 8, and that the difference is material to both my mental and physical health. "Humans need more than seven hours of sleep each night to maintain cognitive performance. After ten days of just seven hours of sleep, the brain is as dysfunctional as it would be after going without sleep for twenty-four hours."But more so, it warns of a global sleep epidemic. And this really rings true. Sleep is something we spend (if we are doing it right), a third of our lives doing, and which should be put up there with eating well and exercising. And yet how often have you heard recommendations for eating well and exercising that don't also include a recommendation to sleep enough? The book makes a strong case that we are vastly under educating people about the benefits of sleep. This sentence for instance, both rings true and is one of the scariest in the book: "With chronic sleep restriction over months or years, an individual will actually acclimate to their impaired performance, lower alertness, and reduced energy levels. That low-level exhaustion becomes their accepted norm, or baseline. Individuals fail to recognize how their perennial state of sleep deficiency has come to compromise their mental aptitude and physical vitality, including the slow accumulation of ill health. A link between the former and latter is rarely made in their mind. Based on epidemiological studies of average sleep time, millions of individuals unwittingly spend years of their life in a sub-optimal state of psychological and physiological functioning, never maximizing their potential of mind or body due to their blind persistence in sleeping too little."If this isn't an epidemic, what is? Like me, many of us have a notion that we should work hard during the week and "catch up" later or (pre-kids) on the weekend. Interestingly, this notion is false - we can never catch up, the damage has been done."More than 65 percent of the US adult population fail to obtain the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night during the week."It's not just our culture of working too hard and looking at screens too much, there are a few specific cultural things the book rants against. First (and in my opinion, justified) is a rant against schools that have start times that are too early - teenagers in particular still have forming brains and need their sleep. Second and most ironic is our medical schools culture of 24 or 48 hour shifts - the medical community should know better, and if they don't, it's no wonder the rest of us don't take it seriously enough. Unnecessarily bankrupting the sleep of a teenager could make all the difference in the precarious tipping point between psychological wellness and lifelong psychiatric illness. This is a strong statement, and I do not write it flippantly or without evidence."I used to go to Terman Library all the time - and as a parent this was fascinating:"The Stanford psychologist Dr. Lewis Terman, famous for helping construct the IQ test, dedicated his research career to the betterment of children’s education. Starting in the 1920s, Terman charted all manner of factors that promoted a child’s intellectual success. One such factor he discovered was sufficient sleep. Published in his seminal papers and book Genetic Studies of Genius, Terman found that no matter what the age, the longer a child slept, the more intellectually gifted they were. He further found that sleep time was most strongly connected to a reasonable (i.e., a later) school start time: one that was in harmony with the innate biological rhythms of these young, still-maturing brains."So why do we sleep? One big reason is that it literally stores your memories from the day - it moves them from short term to long term storage, and if you don't get good sleep, you just lose the memories! I shudder to think of how many classes I crammed for during college on no sleep and then promptly forgot it all :(. The phrase "let me sleep on it" exists in every culture because it works - our brains will be better on a problem the following day, because the information has been moved to long term storage, and intermingled with our neural net of everything else in our brains. "Of the many advantages conferred by sleep on the brain, that of memory is especially impressive, and particularly well understood. Sleep has proven itself time and again as a memory aid: both before learning, to prepare your brain for initially making new memories, and after learning, to cement those memories and prevent forgetting.""Before having slept, participants were fetching memories from the short-term storage site of the hippocampus—that temporary warehouse, which is a vulnerable place to live for any long duration of time if you are a new memory. But things looked very different by the next morning. The memories had moved. After the full night of sleep, participants were now retrieving that same information from the neocortex, which sits at the top of the brain—a region that serves as the long-term storage site for fact-based memories, where they can now live safely, perhaps in perpetuity."When it comes to information processing, think of the wake state principally as reception (experiencing and constantly learning the world around you), NREM sleep as reflection (storing and strengthening those raw ingredients of new facts and skills), and REM sleep as integration (interconnecting these raw ingredients with each other, with all past experiences, and, in doing so, building an ever more accurate model of how the world works, including innovative insights and problem-solving abilities)."One fascinating insight was the studies that showed that the last 2 hours of sleep (from hour 6 to 8) were some of the most key hours for deep NREM sleep, which does your memory storage. When you short those by only getting 6 hours, it matters a lot!"The increases in speed and accuracy, underpinned by efficient automaticity, were directly related to the amount of stage 2 NREM, especially in the last two hours of an eight-hour night of sleep". The bits about physical performance for athletes was solidly backed and fascinating. I'd heard that "Federer gets 9-10 hours" and the such for similar top performers, but this backed it up - you really do perform 30-50% better with more sleep, AND recover 30-50% better with more sleep the next night."Obtain anything less than eight hours of sleep a night, and especially less than six hours a night, and the following happens: time to physical exhaustion drops by 10 to 30 percent, and aerobic output is significantly reduced. Similar impairments are observed in limb extension force and vertical jump height, together with decreases in peak and sustained muscle strength."The book had several convincing chapters about the improved health risks of sleeping more. It reduces chances of cancer and probably about everything else, since sleep is what helps your body repair itself. These bits were scary to read, and intended to be so. His "convincer", that he opened his TED Talk with, is that men who are sleep deprived have 30% reduced sperm count, lower testosterone, and smaller testicles. "Poor sleep quality therefore increases the risk of cancer development and, if cancer is established, provides a virulent fertilizer for its rapid and more rampant growth. Not getting sufficient sleep when fighting a battle against cancer can be likened to pouring gasoline on an already aggressive fire."Another scary stat is that Drowsy Driving is worse than Drunk Driving. How much education and laws do we have about drunk driving, and yet being drowsy is the cause of more vehicle accidents than being drunk! Time to shift our education and perhaps our laws.While the book was great at the science of what we know about sleep, it didn't go enough into what is known about how to improve sleep. But it did have good high level tips: Key Tips to Improve Sleep1. Reduce electric and LED light. Simply put, we weren't designed to stay up until midnight, and so reducing light, especially harmful blue light, will let us get to sleep easier. This means creating mood lighting hours before bedtime to start to suppress melatonin. Wear blue light glasses, especially if looking at any screens after dinner, and avoid screens 2 hours before bedtime. "A subtly lit living room, where most people reside in the hours before bed, will hum at around 200 lux. Despite being just 1 to 2 percent of the strength of daylight, this ambient level of incandescent home lighting can have 50 percent of the melatonin-suppressing influence within the brain.2. Keep a cool bedroom, cooler than you think: A bedroom temperature of around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3°C) is ideal for the sleep of most people, assuming standard bedding and clothing."3. Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends: "if you can only adhere to one of these each and every day, make it: going to bed and waking up at the same time of day no matter what. It is perhaps the single most effective way of helping improve your sleep, even though it involves the use of an alarm clock."4. Don't have caffeine after noon as it will be in your system 9 hours later. 5. Avoid or limit alcohol, which has a long half life: "alcohol fragments sleep, littering the night with brief awakenings. Alcohol-infused sleep is therefore not continuous and, as a result, not restorative."6. Don't eat within 4 hours of bedtime. 7. Don't exercise within 2-3 hours of bedtime. 8. Have a completely black sleeping environment: Maintaining complete darkness throughout the night is equally critical, the easiest fix for which comes from blackout curtains."9. Have a hot bath or shower before bed: "Hot baths prior to bed can also induce 10 to 15 percent more deep NREM sleep in healthy adults".I did want more tips on beating jet lag, which the book didn't really go into, other than to say it will take 1 day to adjust 1 hour, so it takes a week to adjust to a move from the US to EU (which I knew).I bought an Oura ring after reading this book, which gives great data and graphs about my sleep, but I am still struggling to get high Oura scores. So I'm still looking for what works for me. But now I'm committed to striving for 8 hours a night instead of 7, which has already made a big difference!
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  • Johann (jobis89)
    January 1, 1970
    It took me 2 months to get through this... it’s an incredibly important and necessary book, but some parts were so dry. I should have maybe read this instead of listened to it! 3.5 stars.
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