Do you ever feel like you need more sleep than the average person? Well, you’re not alone. After delving into Matthew Walker’s eye-opening book, Why We Sleep, I’m convinced that we’re all sleep-deprived. Despite spending a solid third of our lives snoozing, we still don’t fully grasp the wonders of sleep. Luckily, this book unravels the mysteries and highlights the crucial role it plays in our overall well-being.
In the first section, Walker explores the essence of sleep. He uncovers the incredible benefits it brings, from sharpening our memory to enhancing problem-solving skills. He delves into the captivating world of chronotypes, shedding light on whether we’re morning larks or night owls. And for parents, like myself, with teenagers in need of extra shut-eye, Walker enlightens us on the importance of morning sleep for adolescents. It aids their growth, memory retention, and learning. Not to mention, sleep is essential for our immune system and mental health. Lack of sleep can even contribute to depression, anxiety, and stress.
Walker goes further to explain the different stages of sleep. He breaks down the significance of REM and NREM sleep and how they work together to promote our well-being. With various wearable devices available to track our sleep phases (although not as accurately as the Sleep Lab at UC Berkeley), it’s fascinating to monitor the type of sleep we’re getting and understand its impact on our bodies and minds.
One aspect that stood out to me was the consequences of sleep deprivation. This section had me on edge, but there were moments of humor amidst the horror. For instance, Walker reveals that those macho men who boast about only sleeping a few hours a night might have reduced testosterone levels and smaller testicles. Additionally, he warns us that being awake for 19 hours and then getting behind the wheel is comparable to driving under the influence of alcohol. The terrifying truth is that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
I was also intrigued to learn about the effects of sleeping pills on our sleep patterns. Let’s just say it’s not pleasant news.
Why We Sleep is exceptionally well-written, and after listening to Matthew Walker on various podcasts and interviews, I’m even more impressed by his expertise and dedication to sleep research. I’ve already given copies of Why We Sleep to two people, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to optimize their life.