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“A thoughtful tour through the still dimly understood state of being asleep … Why We Sleep is a book on a mission. Walker is in love with sleep and wants us to fall in love with sleep, too. And it is urgent. He makes the argument, persuasively, that we are in the midst of a ‘silent sleep loss epidemic’ that poses ‘the greatest public health challenge we face in the 21st century’ … Why We Sleep mounts a persuasive, exuberant case for addressing our societal sleep deficit and for the virtues of sleep itself. It is recommended for night-table reading in the most pragmatic sense.” —New York Times Book Review
"The director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab explores the purpose of slumber. Understanding the 'why,' it turns out, just might help you with the 'how to.'" —People
"A neuroscientist has found a revolutionary way of being cleverer, more attractive, slimmer, happier, healthier and of warding off cancer — a good night’s shut-eye ... It’s probably a little too soon to tell you that Why We Sleep saved my life, but I can tell you that it’s been an eye-opener." —The Guardian
"This is a stimulating and important book which you should read in the knowledge that the author is, as he puts it, 'in love with everything that sleep is and does.' But please do not begin it just before bedtime." —Financial Times
"Fascinating ... Walker describes how our resting habits have changed throughout history; the connection between sleep, chronic disease, and life span; and why the pills and aids we use to sleep longer and deeper are actually making our nights worse. Most important, he gives us simple, actionable ways to get better rest—tonight." —Men's Journal
“Walker is a scientist but writes for the layperson, illustrating tricky concepts with easily grasped analogies. Of particular interest to business owners, educators, parents, and government officials, and anyone who has ever suffered from a poor night’s sleep.” —Library Journal, starred review
"Why We Sleep is simply a must-read. World-renowned neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker takes us on a fascinating and indispensable journey into the latest understandings of the science of sleep. And the book goes way beyond satisfying intellectual curiosity, as it explores the cognitive, health, safety and business consequences of compromising the quality and quantity of our sleep; insights that may change the way you live your life. In these super-charged, distracting times it is hard to think of a book that is more important to read than this one." —Adam Gazzaley,co-author of The Distracted Mind, founder and executive director of Neuroscape, and Professor of Neurology, Physiology, and Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco
“Most of us have no idea what we do with a third of our lives. In this lucid and engaging book, Matt Walker explains the new science that is rapidly solving this age-old mystery. Why We Sleep is a canny pleasure that will have you turning pages well past your bedtime.” —Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard and author of Stumbling on Happiness
"In Why We Sleep, Dr. Matt Walker brilliantly illuminates the night, explaining how sleep can make us healthier, safer, smarter, and more productive. Clearly and definitively, he provides knowledge and strategies to overcome the life-threatening risks associated with our sleep-deprived society. Our universal need for sleep ensures that every reader will find value in Dr. Walker's insightful counsel." —Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D., former NHTSA Administrator, NTSB member, and NASA scientist
About the Author
Matthew Walker is a professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at UC Berkeley, the Director of its Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, and a former Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University. He has published over 100 scientific studies and has appeared on 60 Minutes, Nova, BBC News, and NPR’s Science Friday.
Amazon calculates a product’s star ratings based on a machine learned model instead of a raw data average. The model takes into account factors including the age of a rating, whether the ratings are from verified purchasers, and factors that establish reviewer trustworthiness.
After hearing the author on the Joe Rogan podcast I excitedly bought the book...and then regretted it. The author went on a nauseating rant by telling us that sleep is important in 312 different ways...and yet didn't really offer any solid advice to help us get more sleep. In other words he stated the obvious, but didn't offer anything concrete or practical. I have no doubt he is an amazing sleep expert, but we all know that sleep is good for you. The challenge is figuring out how to get more of it or better quality.
I'll save you the money by summarizing the book: "Sleep is really, really, really, really, really important. If you don't get enough sleep, you could have many problems because sleep is really, really, really important. I'm not going to tell you how to get better or more sleep, I will only tell you that sleep is really important."
Personally, I think he's holding out on this information for his next book. Grrrrrrrr.
I'm about 75 pages into this book and it is already one of the most fascinating, important, and engaging books I've ever read. And it's funny, too, which was unexpected. This should be required reading by EVERYONE. After you read this book, I can't imagine how you could not prioritize getting an 8-hour night of sleep every night. Some astounding facts: -Routinely sleeping less than 6 or 7 hours a night increases your risk of cancer by 50%. -Every species every studied, preceding the emergence of vertebrates even, sleeps. Some species can sleep with only half their brain (!!). Sleep is an incredibly risky thing for an animal to do because you are completely vulnerable to predators when you sleep. But sleep is THAT important that it was preserved by evolution. -After even one night of less than 5 hours of sleep, natural killer cells (which kill cancer cells that appear in your body EVERY DAY) drop by 70%. Just one night!!! Buy it, read it, and then share it with everyone you know.
Well researched and full of powerful anecdotes. A couple of problems stop me from enthusiastically recommend it though:
1. It doesn't live up to the tile: the book is mostly a collection of facts and interesting research results and it fails to provide any kind of overarching theory of why we sleep.
2. The main tool used in the book is the scare tactic: "here's what happens if sleep quality is compromised". It works, and it might even be the right approach in many cases (schools starting before 9am is simply barbaric). The problem is, for someone going though sleep troubles, this can dramatically make things worse. It took me ~6months to recover from this book.
Reviewed in the United States on December 17, 2017
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I love this book! As a life-long poor sleeper, I've read dozens of books that supposedly held the answer to solving my sleep problems. None have, until now. The author not only gives you lots of ideas on how to get a better night's sleep, he tells you why it's so important to get in your nightly 8 hours. Who knew there were so many areas of life impacted by sleep, particularly the lack of it! There is a lot of information here, all of which I found very interesting and quite helpful. At the end of the book he lists a number of ideas that you can put into use immediately. I have seen a great improvement in the quality and amount of sleep I'm getting now, so I feel very comfortable about recommending this book.
I am an editor for one of the most visited natural health sites and as such had an opportunity to review a prepublication copy of this excellent book. Sleep is one of the most under rated health strategies and if you haven’t ever taken a deep dive in how to understand and optimize your sleep this is one of the best resources out there to optimize your sleep.
Are you tired? If your answer is yes, it would seem relatively straightforward to assume you're not getting enough sleep. Yet, signs of sleep deprivation may not always be this obvious (and there are other factors besides sleep loss that can make you feel fatigued).
Dr. Walker does an outstanding job of helping you understand the mystery of why we sleep and unravels some of it mysteries, like why your brain shuts down motor control to your muscles during the most active part of sleep, REM sleep. During REM sleep, there is a nonstop barrage of motor commands swirling around your brain, and they underlie the movement-rich experience of dreams. Thankfully Nature tailored a physiological straitjacket that forbids these fictional movements from becoming reality which protects you from harming yourself. Your brain paralyzes your body during REM sleep so your mind can dream safely.
Dr. Walker also consults for many professional teams and helps their athletes understand how sleep is one of the most sophisticated, potent, and powerful—not to mention legal—performance enhancers that has real game-winning potential. Sleep can radically reduce career or season ending injuries and massively improve performance if optimized correctly.
On the downside he reviews the dangers of what most of us do every night. Not sleep enough. This coming week, more than 2 million people in the US will fall asleep while driving their motor vehicle. That’s more than 250,000 every day, with more such events during the week than weekends for obvious reasons. More than 56 million Americans admit to struggling to stay awake at the wheel of a car each month. As a result, 1.2 million accidents are caused by sleepiness each year in the United States. You may find it surprising to learn that vehicle accidents caused by drowsy driving exceed those caused by alcohol and drugs combined. And if you happen to be drinking or using drugs the results are not additive but synergistically exponential radically increasing your risk of an accident, injury or death.
These are only a few examples of the highly useful information you will receive by reading this book. Highly recommended.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 7, 2018
*WARNING* Don’t read this if you suffer from any sort of sleeping problem. It will just make you worse. I thought it would be interesting but actually it just made me feel really anxious about sleeping, so much so that I developed full-blown insomnia! It’s all a bit scary for someone who is prone to sleeping problems. Read only when you’re in a healthy state of mind.
This book has been eye opening for me. Are there days when you don't have a clear mind? Are you sometimes forgetful? Are you sometimes less optimistic than you used to be? How patient are you? Do you feel you're not performing well enough at sports? Do you sometimes feel dizzy? Do you have headaches? Why do you think that is? Are you having too much coffee? Are you having too little? Maybe you have high blood pressure? Or low? Maybe you need glasses or maybe it's your glasses or contact lenses that are making you dizzy and not focused and giving you headaches?
Well there could be a much simpler explanation. You could be sleep deprived. Lots of people are and many don't even know.
This book explains why we sleep, the positive effects of sleeping in your mind, body and health and the negative effects that not sleeping enough has on them.
I really enjoyed this book. I am sleeping more now and I definitely feel a lot better, more clear minded and energetic. I can now clearly understand the effect a few nights in a row of not sleeping enough have on me... and I can detect it and easily fix it by just going to bed earlier! Life changing.
Everyone should read this book - and act on its advice. it's a thorough and wide-ranging review of all aspects of sleep and its impact on the individual and on society locally and globally.
First addressing the process of sleep, why the different phases of sleep are necessary to health, and how modern life and technology disrupt healthy and natural sleep patterns, Walker sets a persuasive context for the problems caused by lack of sleep, from "drowsy driving" (responsible for more avoidable deaths than alcohol and drugs combined) to medical errors by sleep-deprived doctors, from depleting personal happiness to severely hampering the immune system.
At my age, the particularly powerful wake-up call (ho ho) for me is the much greater chance of premature death, even in your sixties.
We're reading this book for the BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club in June, and I'm glad this will help give his findings more of an audience. It's already an international bestseller, but I wonder how many people have truly changed their sleeping habits long term as a result? I hope I can find the resolve to change mine before it's too late, and I will be pressing this book on everyone I know with evangelical zeal. Part of me is also gratified to find scientific confirmation of old wives' tales and instincts about sleep: "an hour before midnight is worth two after", "Sleep is nature's healer", "Got to get my beauty sleep", etc. These and many more are all unassailable according to Walker. if we put old wives in charge of the world, it would be a much healthier, happier and peaceful place.
3.0 out of 5 starsDon't bother unless you're a doctor
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 3, 2018
There is far more detail than most people would want. I feel he rather overstates his case - you are given the impression that if you don't get 8 hours, and get it every single night, you're doomed to a life of failure and mediocrity. And I didn't find much prescription. If you are having sleep trouble, what's the good of being told how terrible that is without being told how to do something about it?
I have given 3 stars on account of the serious research that has gone into the book. Otherwise it would be even less.
5.0 out of 5 starsA game-changing view that clearly explains the importance of good, regular sleep.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 23, 2018
This book was recommended by a work colleague, and although I have only just begun reading it, I am already discovering some eye-watering details about how the inevitable, relentless lack of sleep, and disturbed sleep, encountered in my profession (I am a long-haul airline pilot) is doing my health serious long-term damage! If you are a long-term shift-worker, or enjoy (!) burning both ends of the candle, you must read this.
Matthew Walker's writing style is engaging, as are his Youtube videos, and you will learn important information that could, literally, prevent your life from being prematurely curtailed!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 29, 2018
I'm afraid this book is undermined by too many nonsequiturs. The fact that two things typically occur together does not mean that one causes the other. I note the huge number of glowing reviews on the book cover and within its introductory pages are written by journalists, not scientists. I'd be interested to know what scientists in the author's line of business thinks of it. Be very wary of accepting it's conclusions without a great deal of scepticism.
For normal folks like you and me, and for doctors or scientists as well, sleep's been always a mysterious phenomena. We humans sleep (preferably) one third of our whole life. This is an enormous amount of time which demands some attention. Though historically the attention has not been allotted to sleep it deserves, academically or culturally. If you read this book (and you should; whether you love or hate or enjoy or avoid or have problem with or have some queries on sleeping) you'd understand why the evolutionary process didn't eliminate sleep from our biological dictionary. Why, though seemingly unnecessary/time-wasting/futile/unproductive, we still need to get a good night's sleep to get a long list of physiological, biological, psychological benefits. And if you by any chance fail to get the necessary amount of sleep (voluntarily or otherwise), you're a big gambler who doesn't have the idea about the grave repercussions. (No kidding.)
This book will be beneficial to everybody except those smart dudes who have unwavering faith in some generic and prejudiced sayings like: "Six hours of sleep is enough for a functional adult" or "You'll have chance to sleep all you need when you're dead" or "Our great leader sleeps only four hours/day, hence I should do the same to be like him." etc.
Don't trust them for Kumbhkarna's sake. Don't mess with sleep.
Some curious takeaways from the book: ● Not only the starting phase of sleep is important, when you're going to wake up in the morning is equally significant too. If you get up earlier without fulfilling your sleep-quota, there will be consequences. Serious consequences. ● Melatonin doesn't make you feel drowsy; it just reminds your brain, "Time to go to bed, fella." Part of a whole set of timekeeping mechanism actually. The chemical substance which in fact pressurize your system to make you feel sleepy is named Adenosine. ● Dreaming makes you more visionary/creative/shrewd, really. And dreaming is not just some "commercial breaks" between slumber, it has serious impact on your mindset/thinking/worldview/self assessment and many things more. ● Homo sapiens is "biphasic" in case of sleep requirement. That is, we humans are biologically inclined to get sleep two times a day. Taking a siesta is not just a cultural phenomena in origin, but deeply biological. Dozing after lunchtime is absolutely human-like, nothing shameful if you think so. ● It's not mere practice that makes a person perfect. Practice, followed by a good night of sleep is what required for perfection. And the writer is serious about that. ● You can sleep as many hours trying to recover/make up the sleep that you've lost or skipped; but make no mistake, humans can never "sleep back"/rebound the sleep once lost. ● "Night owls" are real, not myth. As real as the "Morning larks" are. Don't bully them; or feel guilty of being one. ● Caffeine is the most widely used (rather abused) addictive psychoactive stimulant drug in the world. It is also the only addictive substance that we readily give to our children and teens. ● And a lot more.
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.
5.0 out of 5 starsMade me understand the impact of sleep in learning
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 20, 2018
This is the best book I read in years. The author is a neurologist and talks about how the brain works when we are sleeping. How sleep helps the learning process, memory, etc. There is a science behind sleep, that few people know about. I wish I had read this book when I was in university.
Nein, diese Wahrheit bezieht sich nicht auf den Snooze-Button des Weckers, sondern auf die Wichtigkeit des Schlafes. Den Snooze-Botton sollte man nämlich nach Möglichkeit gerade NICHT drücken, sondern mit dem ersten Weckerklingeln aufstehen. Warum – und unglaublich viel anderes wissenswertes – erklärt Matthew Walker in seinem Buch Why We Sleep. Walker ist Professor für Neurowissenschaften und Psychologie an der UC Berkeley und einer der führenden „Schlafforscher“ weltweit. Dabei forscht er nicht nur im Labor und am Schreibtisch. Walker war auch schon als Berater für Teams aus der NBA, NFL und der Premiere League tätig, sowie für Pixar, Regierungsorganisationen, Technologiefirmen und Firmen im Finanzsektor.
Das Buch ist in vier Teile eingeteilt: (1) This Thing Called Sleep: Hier erklärt Walker die biologischen Grundlagen des Schlafes und vermittelt ein Verständnis für die unterschiedlichen Schlafphasen. (2) Why Should You Sleep?: Hier geht es um die absolute Wichtigkeit des Schlafes und die Folgen von mangelndem Schlaf. (3) How and Why We Dream: Hier wird die Bedeutung von Träumen erläutert. (4) From Sleeping Pills to Society Transformed: Hier wird der gute und der schlechte Umgang mit Schlaf in unserer Gesellschaft dargestellt und ein Weg in die Zukunft gezeigt. Ein Anhang mit zwölf Tipps für gesunden Schlaf rundet das Buch ab.
Wer ein wissenschaftliches Interesse mitbringt, wird einiges lernen können (obwohl das Buch allgemeinverständlich geschrieben ist), aber auch der Leser, dem es primär um den praktischen Umgang mit dem Schlaf geht, kommt absolut auf seine Kosten. Man muss nicht jedes wissenschaftliche Detail verstehen, um von dem Buch profitieren zu können. Warum ist eine Stunde mehr Schlaf oft produktiver als eine Stunde mehr Lernen? Welchen Einfluss haben Alkohol und Drogen auf unseren Schlaf? Wie kann man Schlafproblemen entgegnen und warum sind Schlaftabletten oft die falsche Lösung? Welche Rolle kann ein Power Nap haben? Wie kann man mit Jetlags umgehen? Und… warum sollte ich den Snooze-Button meines Weckers lieber nicht nutzen? Auf diese Fragen und viele andere hat Matthew Walker Antworten. Absolut lesenswert!
2.0 out of 5 starsImportant subject but poorly written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 17, 2019
I didn’t enjoy reading this book although I think the subject is immensely important. I forced myself to read through till the end because it’s a timely subject and not many people are talking about it. However the book is tedious, repetitive and very poorly edited. It is not pleasant to read, at times depressing, too technical and the editorial staff are obviously on leave. The book contains at the very end a one-page list of tips to improve your sleep, thrown in as an afterthought, whilst it should deserve a full fledged chapter and it was clearly the most useful and practical part of the book.
This guy might be a professor but bless him, he can’t write for love or money. He has a tin ear and it’s very excruciating to read. He’s onto something however. I think that the fitness and nutrition industry will (or should) wise up to the need of adequate sleep. In that sense this book is a piece of sensible advice and warning.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 17, 2018
This book is extremely well written and so eye-openingley informative. Being interested in all aspects of sleep hygiene and the mechanism of sleep, I was delighted when I found this book. I suffer badly with a sleep disorder and live with permanent sleep deprivation, so am always keen to read up and learn as much as I can to ensure I am doing everything I can to get a handle on the deprivation.
I feel now, having read this book, that I have read everything there is to know and understand about sleep, why we sleep and more importantly, the dreadful damage that lack of it does to us. The book is so thorough and in-depth and I feel all aspects of the topic have been fully covered. It is written in plain language, so very easy to understand.
I have learned so much about sleep deprivation now and the harm it does to physical and mental health. I understand a lot more about the dreaming stages and I feel fully 'trained' to go out there and sleep to the best of my ability, for the sake of my life!
As someone who has sleeping problems I was slightly sorry I read this book. It's bad enough not being able to sleep without being told the side-effect in full gruesome detail - heart disease, dying early, falling asleep at the wheel, difficulty finding employment! Scientificallly written and interesting in a way, it doesn't really offer much in the way of solutions to the problem.
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