Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world – Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes – has very strong causal links to deficient sleep.

Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why its absence is so damaging to our health. Compared to the other basic drives in life – eating, drinking, and reproducing – the purpose of sleep remained elusive.

Now, in this book, the first of its kind written by a scientific expert, Professor Matthew Walker explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves in to everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence.

My Thoughts:
This book was absolutely fascinating. I got this a couple of months ago from the PasionFuel Book Box and I hadn’t been in the mood to get around to pick it up but after a series of really strange nightmares, I decided it was about time to pick it up.

I have learnt so much about the effects of little sleep and how to get a better nights rest. I had no idea the number of repercussions that not enough sleep will create.

Walker talks about the effects of caffeine on your sleep cycle, I obviously know caffeine can affect your sleep but the amount of issues it can cause is incredible, I had absolutely no idea about half of the information provided in this book.

I was also fascinated by the effects of sleep deprivation and that if you are sleep deprived the different sleep cycles that you go through will last different times when you finally get to sleep. for example, when you are normally sleeping one of the cycles will last longer but when you are sleep deprived a different cycle will last longer.

It is so interesting that when we sleep in a new bed, e.g. a hotel bed there is different brain activity than normal. When we are sleeping in a new place our brains function more like a dolphin or a bird, when these animals sleep they are capable of shutting down one side of their brain at a time so as they can rest. So when we are in a new location our brains act similarly to that, obviously not to the same high functioning capability of birds or dolphins, but that’s why we don’t sleep as well in an unfamiliar place.

I can really understand why this book was doing the rounds during the first lockdown because so many people were struggling to get a good nights rest. Walker actually provides some tips on getting a better night of sleep.

The only down side I have for this book is that, I wish that Walker had provided some more information for shift workers and that’s only because I am a shift worker but apart from that I think this was an incredibly interesting book full of fascinating information.

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