Psychodynamic Psychotherapist and Counsellor in Canterbury, Kent

Format: Kindle edition, 341 pages

Published: 28 September 2017 by Penguin

Genres: Nonfiction, science

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

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.

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 into 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.

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

This book has entirely changed the way I view sleep. As Dr Walker is an expert in his field, this book is quite heavy on science, but that makes it more helpful to understand why sleep is so important and how it impacts our day-to-day functioning. As a person who is not big on technical jargon, I found this book relatively easy to read. Dr Walker is particularly gifted in creating analogies that communicates ideas in a way anyone can understand.

The author makes recommendations throughout the book as to how one can improve their ‘sleep hygiene’, including limiting the use of electronics before bed (which I did not succeed in, having read this book mostly before bed on my Kindle). The author makes recommendations for changes to school hours to help teenagers get the most out of their education, and also makes suggestions for improving efficiency at work by adjusting work hours and encouraging flexibility.

Why We Sleep is a must-read for humans everywhere. I frequently found myself talking about this book to others while I was reading it, in the hope of impressing on them the important things I learnt from this book. I take some parts with a pinch of salt, e.g. while the author suggests a healthy sleep pattern can reduce the risk of cancer, that does not necessarily mean it will prevent cancer as the synopsis suggests. But this book will open your eyes to the detrimental impact of sleep deprivation, and I would strongly recommend this book for everyone everywhere.

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