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Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Self Loathing



Author: Matthew Walker
Narrator: John Sackville
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Length: 13 h 31 m
Genre: Science & Technology
Published: 2017
Reviewer: Anonymous

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If for some reason you are looking to feel bad about how little sleep you are getting, how it is literally killing you, then this is the book for you. It is not too far off to think of sleep as the default state of living creatures. It is not so much that ants do not sleep (as the old assumption goes) but it is that they never "wake up". Like any physical system seeking the lowest energy equilibrium, sleep is that equilibrium for animals. For us, the most important functions of sleep seem to be restoration and enhancement, sleep heals both the mind and body.

Author, Matthew Walker addresses many human afflictions and in turn, traces its root cause to a lack of sleep. People that sleep more tend toward more happiness, longer lives, higher IQ's and more. Lack of sleep in turn causes depression, stress, higher rates of divorce and even suicide. The point is made excruciatingly clear, you need more sleep, I need more sleep, everyone needs is be asleep 8 hours a night in a dark quiet room, no questions asked. That is the minimum, if you care about yourself or the people around you, you will see to the 8 hours plus a minimum of a 1 hour nap around noon. We need to turn off all light emitting devices three hours before we get into bed he tells us, especially no blue tinted LED's, the worst apparently.

But there is more bad news, those "sleeping aids", they don't work and they are killing you. Dr. Walker tells us (clinically) there is no such thing as a sleep aid, we have sedatives, but that's it. We can sedate ourselves, but there is no one that considers sedation the same as sleep. Studies show that indeed, these two states are not the same, just because a person is non-responsive does not mean they are in one of the well defined "sleep stages". Even melatonin, says the author, is at best a placebo that is harming your kidneys. If for some reason you want to be unconscious in your bed at a given time, then sleep aids work, but as far as getting to sleep or staying asleep, the author says there is no compound that has ever been show to be effective.

I loved this book. I knew I was not getting enough sleep but this book gave me the initiative and tools to work toward a better night's sleep. After a month of trying what I read in Why We Sleep I can't say I feel any better, I put up darker shades in the bedroom, I try to drink less coffee, go to bed earlier, but nothing really feel different. Dr. Walker is able to and does a great job of tell us what is wrong and what to do better, but my guess is that most of us are treating our own bodies like crap not because we don't know any better but that we don't care or even worse, are downright self destructive and withholding sleep is a well know method of torture.