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Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  29,539 ratings  ·  4,005 reviews
The first sleep book by a leading scientific expert—Professor Matthew Walker, Director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab—reveals his groundbreaking exploration of sleep, explaining how we can harness its transformative power to change our lives for the better.

Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and lo
ebook, 368 pages
Published 2017 by Penguin Books Ltd
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Simon Harvey No, it's not really a how-to guide. There is a two-page appendix which gives tips for getting consistently good sleep, based on the information from…moreNo, it's not really a how-to guide. There is a two-page appendix which gives tips for getting consistently good sleep, based on the information from the National Sleep Foundation.

That said, it's easy to draw conclusions from the way that light and heat have an impact.

But the biggest effect is that reading the book will convince you that you really should get all the sleep you need. You'll make sure of an early night.(less)
C.J. Shane The problem you describe impacts middle-aged and older people particularly hard. Two factors here are circadian rhythm and sleep pressure. In older…moreThe problem you describe impacts middle-aged and older people particularly hard. Two factors here are circadian rhythm and sleep pressure. In older folk, the circadian rhythm shifts so that melatonin is released earlier in the evening, signaling that it's time to sleep. Second, we experience "sleep pressure" caused by the build-up of the chemical adenosine in our brains. If you drop off in the evening, that dissipates adenosine levels so that when you go to bed, there's little adenosine-sleep pressure left. The author has some suggestions on how to change this pattern. I'll write a review later but I'll have to say now that this is one of the most important health-related books I've ever read. Please read it.(less)
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K.J. Charles
This book is genuinely terrifying. The author, a sleep scientist, lists the devastating consequences of getting less than 7-9 hours regularly and it is so much worse than you might have thought. SO much worse. We're basically all going to die.

I'm not even kidding--being just an hour short on sleep a day will do serious damage to your immune system almost immediately, and the Western world is in the grip of a massive sleep deprivation epidemic. Lack of sleep is a carcinogen, literally. It also d
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For once, I actually mean five stars in the sense of "everybody should read this book." This book is highly readable but contains stunning information I'd never seen anywhere else (and includes numerous references to serious primary literature).

I was reminded (stay with me here) of ancient Egyptian funerary practices. After carefully embalming organs like the heart and liver, and placing them in canopic jars, the Egyptians pulled the brain out with a hook and threw it away, because t
Something to ponder; every living thing on earth is subject to the circadian (24 hour) rhythm. It is understandable why animals and plants need to be awake in daylight hours. Less so for fish that for thousands of generations have lived in underground rivers and have over the millenia lost the ability to even sense light. Even less so for bacteria. But still, all of us have this endogenous clock keeping time within us, keeping time with the sun.

In the 1930s, a scientist, Nathaniel Kl
JV (semi-hiatus)
Have you ever felt knackered that you needed to catch some z's hopefully to sleep back what you've previously lost? Have you not slept a wink even if you hit the hay awhile ago and just decided to take some sleeping and other sedating drugs just to make you sleep like a log, but then you would wake up feeling like a zombie of sorts? Well, have no fear, the doctor's here! Not me, okay? Mind you!
"Ultimately, asking 'Why do we sleep?' was the wrong question. It implied there was a single function, oneyou!
Clif Hostetler
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
The less you sleep the shorter your life span will be. Do I have your attention yet? If so read this excerpt from the beginning of this book (p3-5), and you will understand why this book caught my attention.

This book is divided into four parts. Part 1 defines the nature and types of sleep, describes how the need for sleep changes over a life span, and goes on to discuss the evolutionary origins of sleep. Part 2 describes why you should sleep and lays out the dire consequences of not sleeping. Part 3 ex
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, biology
Matthew Walker really, really thinks we all need some serious shut-eye, and he's not messing around when it comes to getting you on board – he hits you with both barrels on page one, and never lets up:

Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer's disease. Inadequate sleep—even moderate reductions for just one week—d/>
This is such an excellent book, mainly because I had never thought very much about the need for a good night's rest. The first part of this book does not really address "why we sleep". Instead, the book describes "what happens if we do not get enough sleep." Not until about halfway through the book, does the question "why we sleep" really get answered.

The author, Matthew Walker, is a professor of neuroscience and psychology. I always prefer to read science-related books that are writ
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hamad by: Tala
Shelves: e-books, 2018-reads
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”

🌟 I am still on a quest to discover more non-fiction books, that started last year and I am willing to continue this year. So when Tala (Who also happens to be a medical student in my class) recommended this, I knew that I had to read it!

🌟 I also had the same first question that most of us will think of: How a ~370 pages book is filled with
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medicine, science
So, this book is both a must read and deeply, deeply disturbing. I’ve been having trouble sleeping for the last few years and now I’m going to have to do something about it, simple as that, because the consequences of not sleeping properly are appalling.

For instance, it provides you, free of charge, with an increased risk of diabetes, dementia (in all its fun and various guises), weight gain, heart disease and even accidental death. And the situation is getting worse. We are losing sleep at a r
There's an overwhelmingly positive experience I had with this book. For most of it, Walker talks about his research (and his colleagues) surrounding the sleep and those arguments are fascinating and convincing.
However, there are moments, mostly closer to the end of it, when you feel like you are listening to a sales pitch. First of all, I dislike when somebody uses percentage without reference, ie "it's a 150% growth" as it might easily mean it was 1% in the past and now is 2,5% (150% growth),
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know, I'm not usually one to tout NY Times bestsellers, but in this particular case, I want to mention that...

This kinda should be required reading for everyone.

Why? Because despite the rather innocuous title and no-nonsense factual information being presented, with no less than 750 scientific studies supporting the findings within, the author OUGHT to have been screaming that we're all freaking fools and morons.

Sure, I've heard of some of the studies, such as the on
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sleep has been a big mystery for long, as it has been unclear what purpose it serves, and why natural selection did not weed it out. After all, in earlier times, the period of sleep must have been one of considerable danger for humans (and even now for many animals and birds). And yet, sleep is a common requirement across the animal kingdom as well. In fact, birds and some sea creatures have the remarkable ability to sleep half a brain at a time.

Matthew Walker is a sleep scientist and does an e
Lubinka Dimitrova
Hands down, one of the best books I read this year (more like ever, to be honest).

So, a miracle drug has been discovered. A revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Sleep! Who would ha
We often hear that sleep, diet and exercise are the three pillars of health, but Walker, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, goes further: he believes sleep is the platform on which diet and exercise rest. Getting 7–9 hours of sleep a night is not some luxury to aim for but an absolute essential for the brain to process new information and prepare for receiving more the next day. Dreaming is like overnight therapy, and fuels creativity. Sleep deprivation has be ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so much better than I expected! This is one of those books you just want to buy 20 of to gift to your family and friends. I seriously recommend you read this, especially all of you bookworms who read deep into the night sacrificing your sleep on a regular basis. 😉
James Hartley
This is going to sound naive but it still surprises me that so many scientists can be so vain. I like to imagine them outside and above such concerns but of course they arent: theyre as human as the rest of us. They want to win prizes, "go down in history", have students applaud them in lectures and be popular.
Walker is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and tours, lectures and writes on sleep and sleep science. This book - which can be read
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I am obsessed with learning about sleep, and sleep hygiene. I will read article after article on the topic, even if it's just regurgitating the same old stuff. It just feels calming to me. Despite that though, I'm quite bad at practicing what I preach (to my husband and anyone else who will listen).

This book is anything but calming however. In fact, it will put the fear of god into you. It is however the most informative text I have ever read on the topic of sleep and dreams, and I b
André Oliveira
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was good! It contains a lot of scientific information about sleep and dreams.

It was interesting and sometimes boring, but you know what, as the author says at the beginning of the book:

Should you feel drowsy and fall asleep while reading the book, unlike most authors, I will not be disheartened. Indeed, based on the topic and content of this book, I am actively going to encourage you that kind of behaviour from you.
Nicole (Read Eat Sleep Repeat)
“Sleep is nonnegotiable.”

I love sleep, and I constantly find myself drawn to books on the topic. Not only was Why We Sleep was a thorough exploration of sleep and its many aspects, full of scientific fact, theory, and study, but it was also highly engaging. The audiobook narration was also spot on, making for an unputdownable reading experience. Highly recommended.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-2019
Check out my review on booktube:
Sad Sunday (If I say it's bad, it's bad)
Finally, the book whose author actually said that he will be happy if a reader fell asleep while reading it. Great book!


I have to admit, I skipped a few chapters due to my incompetence in sleep science. But I am still rating it 5* stars since it was a great and interesting read. In my opinion M.P.Walker said everything about sleep that could be said.

The thing I liked the most was the style - it had a flowing continuity that was easy to understand for an average reader (I like stuff called popular s
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
There was nothing really new here but I really liked how the author showed the importance of sleep!
I also read this in a really stressful time in my life and I'm now really convinced that sleep is the best thing everrrrrrr

so yay to taking naps without feeling guilty!
Darian Onaciu
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever slept you should read this book.

I always thought that sleep was a waste of time which drains away about a third of our life. So why bother with it? Why would I not sleep as little as possible and spend my waking time doing things I like?

Well, it seems that there are a throng of reasons why we shouldn't do this, all of them drawn from scientific research.
Let me illustrate this with a quote from the book:

“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new
My favourite book of 2018 so far and one of my all time non-fiction favourites.

So much in there that just makes sense and explains a lot - wish that I had read this 30 years ago when I started my working life but without giving too much away I shall be making sure that I get my 7 to 8 hours sleep every night (if I do have to work late, I'll make sure that I don't have an early start the next day) , refrain from alcohol just before sleep, avoid looking at my phone in the evening (blue
Leah Nadeau
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy crap what an AMAZING book! I looooooved this. I had no idea how important sleep was to us... Everyone should read this. There is such a lack of education from sleep. Sleep is more important than diet and exercise.
As an adult you need between7-9hr of sleep per night.
Sleeping pills don't do shit.
Youth and elderly need sleeping the most. If you don't allow teenagers their much needed sleep it increases the chance they will have a mental conditional, higher chance of suicide and so much more
Viv JM
Squeezed by the vise grips of an electrified night and early-morning start times, bereft of twenty-four-hour thermal cycles, and with caffeine and alcohol surging through us in various quantities, many of us feel rightly exhausted and crave that which seems always elusive: a full, restful night of natural deep sleep.

This book is a fascinating look at the purpose and benefits of sleep, including the importance of different stages in the sleep cycle. The author describes the myriad of physical an
India Clamp
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who knew that sleep is the “fountain of youth” yet is one of the most neglected remedies serving to safeguard us from cancer and protecting us from getting in a car crash. Matthew Walker runs a sleep lab at Berkeley and for the last 20 years has studied the "pouvoir réparateur" sleep imparts. Walker contends more sleep results in fewer mental health issues/suicides. Surprisingly, lack of sleep is linked to decrease in life expectancy.

“...across the cardiac, medical and surgical ICU units, stud
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2018
Some are getting too much, most aren't getting enough. No, I don't mean that; what I am talking about is sleep. There are people out there who seem to be able to exist on almost no sleep, people who are in the office at stupid o'clock in the morning and who are still up way after midnight. While scientists knew that we needed food and water and could explain why, no one could adequately explain why we slept, what purpose it served.

It is only recently though that scientists have been able to und
Frieda Vizel
I heard Walker on NPR and was promptly brought to hysterics over the danger of sleeping too little. I had a techy friend block the wifi on my home router from 8pm until morning, then I bought a data disabling add-on from my phone carrier for my cell phone to lock that too, and I began to measure my smartwatch sleep metrics like workout results; look at me, nine hours! I also procured the book and fell asleep to it quite a few times, which might be a twisted compliment to the author. The other da ...more
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Pecosa Collective...: July 2019 Book Club Book 1 10 Jul 08, 2019 08:53AM  

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“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” 48 likes
“Inadequate sleep—even moderate reductions for just one week—disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic.” 28 likes
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