James Hartley's Reviews > Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
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Read 2 times. Last read April 3, 2018 to April 5, 2018.

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 aren´t: they´re 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 in or out of order - covers all the topics you would expect (Why We Sleep, Why We Dream, etc) and if there is a message it is that modern life and modern technology (not to mention pills, booze and other drugs) are affecting our natural sleep patterns and having grave societal consequences.
The problem for me with the book is the style. This book is popular science by numbers and, while informative and, in a few cases, enlightening, it is on the whole exactly what every other popular science book is like. There are the "let me make this simple for you" analogies. There are the descriptions of experiments included as evidence as "ingenious", "clever", "fascinating". There is the slightly over-baked flagwaving on behalf of a subject - in this case - "sleep" which sometimes tips over into ridiculousness (Walker says at one point that life´s natural state is sleep, not wakefulness, although he almost immediately takes it back).
I don´t know. Maybe I just took it wrong. Maybe I just don´t sleep enough (my neighbours woke me this morning banging about at 6am) and as I write that I can almost hear Walker humming and rubbing his hand through his fringe and saying, "ya see? ya see?"
Too much popular and not enough science for me.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 3, 2018 – Started Reading
April 3, 2018 – Shelved
April 5, 2018 –
page 70
April 5, 2018 –
page 70
20.59% "This is a book about the science and importance of sleep. It´s written by a neuroscientist and is divided into 4 parts - This Thing Called Sleep, Why Should You Sleep, How and Why We Dream and From Sleeping Pills to Society Transformed. Basically, his argument is that modern society and its pressures have created grave disruptions to our natural (and necessary) sleep patterns. It´s interesting..."
April 5, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson Ooops, not as good as I expected it would be. Thanks for the honest review, James.

James Hartley Jill, you might like it more than me - there´s lots in it. I just didn´t like the guy´s style - reminded me of that scene in Indiana Jones when he´s lecturing and the girl has "I love you" written on her eyelids. Haha. Maybe not as bad as that, but it had that vibe.
The actual parts on sleep/insomnia etc are quite good but nothing new or groundbreaking. I found the parts about sleep in the animal kingdom the most interesting - about how some animals, birds, for example, sleep by using half a brain at a time - some even switch about to keep guard on the others, changing the side of the brain they sleep with!

message 3: by Jules (new)

Jules As I suspected would be the case, I think I'll be giving this a miss, and continue with my insomnia as normal ;-) Didn't think it would have much to offer on that front. Well, not anything I don't already know. I think it would take a miracle to make me sleep through the night. Oh well, I'll keep holding out for that miracle to come along one day :-) Maybe, I'll give the bird technique a go, ha ha :-)

James Hartley Ha, though insomnia sounds awful Jules. Yep, there wasn´t a lot of stuff in there apart from the usual, as far as I could see. Maybe other people who´ve read it will put me straight, if I missed something. He was very anti-drugs and very pro ambience in the room and talked a lot about sleep strategies (don´t know how you´d call it) but all natural. Good luck with sleeping - hope someone reading this thread can help you out better than me.
Take care!

George Miles Couldn't agree more, I started writing similar review but it disappeared so I'll settle for liking yours for now :)

message 6: by Sne (new) - rated it 1 star

Sne Not every popular science book is "popular science by numbers". Try Nick Lane https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... . He writes about the cells, it's popular science, because I understand it without being a microbiologist, but his books do not repeat the same facts again and again.

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