K.J. Charles's Reviews > Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
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bookshelves: horror, non-fiction

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 destroys your ability to control your emotions and understand those of others, your memory, your creativity; it predisposes you to eat more *and* to put on more weight; oh, and it is closely linked to ADHD for the young and Alzheimers for the old.

Basically, if you go on Twitter and think "why is everyone and everything so absolutely awful" it's probably related to society-wide chronic sleep deprivation that people don't even realise they have. This book is genuinely horrifying (ironically, it will keep you up all night fretting). Some of the more striking findings are the absolute madness of night shifts and junior doctor rotas, the self destructive cruelty of school starts that require kids to be awake at 6, and the hecatombs of deaths caused by tired drivers. We've once again managed to set up a social structure apparently designed to cause as much mental and emotional harm as possible to humans. Well done us.

I would really like to dismiss all this as alarmist nonsense but the weight of research and the author's qualifications for writing this makes that quite hard, so instead I might just go to bed early forever. Really very scary and depressing to read, but seriously important. (Also highly readable and clearly written, unlike many books by experts for laypeople.)
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Reading Progress

September 24, 2017 – Shelved
September 24, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
October 4, 2017 – Started Reading
October 4, 2017 –
20.0% "This is making me really want to go back in time and get a lot more sleep for the last 20 years. :/"
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: horror
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: non-fiction
October 6, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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message 1: by Nick (new)

Nick Pageant I'm afraid to read this. I frequently get called in to work at 4 am and function for weeks at a time on 3-4 hours sleep per night. Then I get sick and miss a few days. It's a horrible cycle that takes an awful toll. I think I'll give this to my boss for Christmas.


message 2: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Obida Damn! I really need to sleep more.


message 3: by Darío (new)

Darío I sleep like 5 hours in intervals because I keep waking up. @ Capitalism if you stopped pressuring me I wouldn't be so stressed.


message 4: by Justin (new)

Justin This makes me feel better about sleeping for 9 hours every night. I used to regret it because I thought I was wasting time sleeping.


Fogovonslack This is an immensely important topic, explored masterfully by the author. As a long term insomniac myself and recent retiree, I know what my priority is. Natural sleep for more than 8 hours a night. Thank you Professor Walker.


message 6: by Aaa (new)

Aaa Poor my memory, my creativity :((


message 7: by Rita (new) - added it

Rita Capitalists: your just reward for overperformance.


~☆~Autumn♥♥ This book sure kept me awake last night. I was horrified and amazed.


message 9: by Trevor (new) - added it

Trevor Folker He was just on the Joe Rogan podcast. Highly recommend listening to it if you like the book.


message 10: by Laurie (new) - added it

Laurie Wright Nick I'd give him a little hand with a boxing glove
...whack


Lubinka Dimitrova Love the shelf you chose for this book.


Nowhere Girl So basically that episode of pokemon where "The City That Never Sleeps" is filled with terrible people and then Jigglypuff sings to them and puts them all to sleep and the sleep makes them better people is accurate. good to know.


WENDELL FOX I've finally made a Dr's appointment for my insomnia. Can't get in for another 3 weeks. Yay, two more sleeps!


Pinkkevin Agree entirely. This was fascinating and terrifying. Apparently my two children who are both under 4 and have never slept through the night really will be the death of me


message 15: by Johan (new) - added it

Johan Hereora Hummerhielm Just remember: some people actually work perfectly sleeping 4 hours. It's the same with mecial treatments or how one eats.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Johan wrote: "Just remember: some people actually work perfectly sleeping 4 hours. It's the same with medical treatments or how one eats."

So true! We are all different.


message 17: by Beth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth It mentions in the book that people that can do well on less than five hours sleep make up only 6% of the population. Meanwhile plenty of people are so used to going with lack of sleep they are causing themselves low level brain damage. Thatcher was one of the later.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Beth wrote: "It mentions in the book that people that can do well on less than five hours sleep make up only 6% of the population. Meanwhile plenty of people are so used to going with lack of sleep they are cau..."

I sure did wonder about Thatcher.


message 19: by O (new) - rated it 5 stars

O I love this review. You articulated everything I was thinking perfectly.


Silas I swear about half the time I get to a goodreads page and it turns out you've already reviewed the book masterfully; in this case, I can only point at what you've said and go "yes, pretty much, and I've already changed my habits quite enthusiastically".


message 21: by VWFOP (new)

VWFOP I'm scared to read this now. I'll just go to sleep early from now on. Actually, I'll go to sleep right now.


message 22: by Cindy (new) - added it

Cindy Your review made me laugh out loud while my boyfriend was sleeping.


message 23: by Cindy (new) - added it

Cindy I just shaved a day off of his life because of you.


Gayathri Muralidharan I have always been a person who negected sleep and never stopped a second in my life to realize the repurcussions of the same. This book has been a great eye-opener and has changed my perspective towards sleep. Every line in the book has explained the science behind why we should sleep. Mr.Mathew has definitely done a great job in this field and i'm happy that my manager recommended this book to my team. All of us have started sleeping for 8 hours now!


Mateo Shija I read each page carefully , i even revisited some pages, i was scared sometimes, but it has been an eye opener . I do agree we are all different, but everyone need enough sleep. I need to sleep right now. GREAT BOOK. thanks Matthew


message 26: by Caroline (new) - added it

Caroline "Basically, if you go on Twitter and think "why is everyone and everything so absolutely awful" it's probably related to society-wide chronic sleep deprivation that people don't even realise they have."

That's great food for thought.

This is already on my TBR, but I'm moving it up now.


message 27: by Leah (new) - added it

Leah Calm down everybody and go take a nap!


message 28: by Peter (new) - added it

Peter Wells This book has got me to give up caffeine and have regular sleep time. Also now get into work on time.


Kristin Butler Totally napping regularly now!


Heather Boggini So...I’m afraid of this book. Afraid it’s going to tell me I’m screwed! But maybe I’ll learn a few tricks or new habits to get the quality sleep I desperately need. Ordering it now but still scared!


Franco Shelves: *horror*


message 32: by Mary Lou (new) - added it

 Mary Lou I swear this is the best review ever written on the planet.


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