Why We Sleep - Book Review

The New Science of Sleep and Dreams.

Like most things in life, I was first introduced to the concept of sleep through the Joe Rogan Podocast. Well, obviously I knew what the concept of sleep was, I just didn't understand it in any depth, or even think about it in any way apart from it being a bit of an inconvenience. 

Then Dr Matthew Walker made a guest appearance to talk about his work. You can watch the full podcast below.

I immediately brought his book, I was fascinated! It was as if the veil had finally been lifted from over my eyes and I could see clearly. My mindset had completely shifted, how had I been able to overlook a state that I've spent about a 3rd of my life in and how is it I was so comfortable to not understand what was happening to me during this.

The book is really an extension of the podcast, it goes into depth about sleep in ways I didn't even imagine. The underlying message of the book is that almost everybody needs to get 8 hours of sleep a night. But by the time you've finished reading you will also welcome it. 

The great thing about this book is the way that he makes the science and statistics easily digestable for non-academics such as myself. I actually found it a fairly easy read.

Anyway, without further ado I want to give you a few of my favourite key points from the book that should entice you to want to understand further.

We don't know our true baseline.

Many people live in a chronically sleep deprived state, the worst thing is that they think that it's normal. They get so used to how they feel from 6 hours of sleep and a lot of caffeine that this becomes their base line. It doesn't have to be this way, you can feel better, look better, be healthier by having more sleep.

You need sleep to learn.

A study was done where 2 groups had to learn a keyboard sequence. One group learnt in the day and was tested 12 hours later at night, the other group learnt in the night and was tested 12 hours later in the morning. So basically both groups had 8 hours in-between learning & testing but only one group slept during that time. Surprise surprise, the group that slept in-between were 20% quicker and 35% more accurate than the other group.

Different parts of sleep are responsible for different things.

A nice follow on point from above, they identified at which part of sleep was stimulating the area of the brain that was responsible for learning these motor skills. They found that this area of the brain was stimulated the most during the 7th and 8th hour of sleep! So you really need that 8 hours! 

8 Hours makes all the difference in elite sport

A study was conducted on NBA players comparing a group who slept for 8 hours a night and a group that slept for under 7 hours a night. The results showed the 8 hours group played for 12% more minutes, 29% increase in points per minute, 2% increase in three-point percentage and 9% increase in free throw percentage. The less than 7 hour group? Well, they had a 37% increase in turnovers and 45% increase in fouls. For those of you unfamiliar with NBA terminology, i'm sure you get the picture - when competing at an elite level you need to get the full 8 hours if you want to get to the top of the foodchain.

Danger of Death

The final point is a more sombre one. This study looked at data from 7000 car crashes in the USA. The study highlights the tragic consequences of not having enough sleep. If you have less than 5 hours sleep you are three times more likely to be involved in a car accident.
If you have had less than 4 hours sleep, you are 11.5 times more likely to be involved in a car accident!! 


These points are just a tiny selection from the book, I personally think this is one of the best books I have ever read, sheerly due to the impact it has had on my life - if you are absolutely determined not to spend any money, at least watch the podcast, you never know how much it could change for you.

Why We Sleep (Book) - Matthew Walker
Buy 'Why We Sleep' now from Amazon! 


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