JV (semi-hiatus)'s Reviews > Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
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bookshelves: science, 2019, nonfiction, knowledge-is-power-guard-it-well

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, one holy grail of a reason that we slept, and we went in search of it."
For aeons, Mother Nature has been implementing this physiological need we all know as "sleep" — a "powerful elixir of wellness and vitality" that most of us take for granted (guilty me included)! Before we dive deep into this essential repose, know that this book is neither a self-help one nor it is a guide that will teach you how to have that restful sleep you're looking for, albeit there are 12 tips in the Appendix. Based on sleep science, Dr. Matthew Walker, a former psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School and now a neuroscience and psychology professor at UC Berkeley, examines sleep with in-depth analysis backed by years of scientific research letting us know that sleep and dreams are vital for our physical and mental wellness. How so? He tells us that,
"Sleep enriches a diversity of functions, including our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions and choices. Benevolently servicing our psychological health, sleep recalibrates our emotional brain circuits, allowing us to navigate next-day social and psychological challenges with cool-headed composure."
Dandy eh? For the average adult, 16 hours of wakefulness and 8 hours of sleep is the optimum balance. Caffeine and alcohol are also considered as two of the most common culprits from getting your much-needed slumber, not without evidence. Regarding insufficient sleep or not getting the same quality/quantity of it, you might want to hide under the sheets now as the next one will be a terrible and panic-inducing rollercoaster ride! Well, hang on to your pants and knickers, ladies and gents!
Sleep loss inflicts such devastating effects on the brain, linking it to numerous neurological and psychiatric conditions (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, suicide, stroke, and chronic pain), and on every physiological system of the body, further contributing to countless disorders and disease (e.g., cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, infertility, weight gain, obesity, and immune deficiency).
If that doesn't horrify you, I don't know what will! For those who are on a graveyard shift, you have been officially warned.
"A number of prominent epidemiological studies have reported that nighttime shift work, and the disruption to circadian rhythms and sleep that it causes, up your odds of developing numerous different forms of cancer considerably."
How... umm... reassuring, Dr. Walker! Nevertheless, thank you for that fact. Furthermore, have you ever heard about Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI)? Good grief! I would never ever touch that one within a ten-foot bargepole, but just so, you all must know that "a lack of sleep will kill a human being." There are also a lot of scientific terms here that might be familiar to you such as REM or NREM sleep, suprachiasmatic nucleus, circadian rhythm, melatonin, etc. None of which I will discuss in full detail lest my puny brain would unnaturally go supernova! Dreams are discussed here too, but I won't be delving on it.

By the way, if you also want to magnetise someone with your looks, sense of humour, and personality, along with increasing your chances of landing your first sloppy snog or ultimately going for a home run (a titillating yee-haw!), well mates, heed the sleep scientist's advice: have some shut-eye!
"Reproductive hormones, reproductive organs, and the very nature of physical attractiveness that has a say in reproductive opportunities: all are degraded by short sleeping. One can only imagine Narcissus being a solid eight-to nine-hour sleeper on the basis of the latter association, perhaps with an afternoon nap for good measure, taken beside the reflection pool."
And there you go, dear folks! Sleep you must and sleep you will! Because I command thee! So, fare thee well! For now, I send thee up to the wooden hill to Bedfordshire! Get it? Good!

Audiobook rating (narrated by Steve West):
Narrative voice & style - ★★★
Vocal characterisation - ★★★
Inflexion & intonation - ★★★
Voice quality - ★★★★
Audiobook verdict - ★★★ (good performance overall, but he'll make you sleepy, which is the point of this book!)
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Reading Progress

April 18, 2018 – Shelved
February 17, 2019 – Started Reading
February 26, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 83 (83 new)


Aqsa (On Hiatus) Interesting! Looking forward to your review on this.
Enjoy!


JV (semi-hiatus) Aqsa wrote: "Interesting! Looking forward to your review on this.
Enjoy!"


Thanks so much, Aqsa! 😊


message 3: by Leila (new) - added it

Leila Sounds a really interesting book JV. I too am looking forward to your review! I have lots of problems with sleep and dreams fascinate me.


JV (semi-hiatus) Ana O wrote: "Enjoy ❤"

Thank you Ana! 😄


JV (semi-hiatus) Leila wrote: "Sounds a really interesting book JV. I too am looking forward to your review! I have lots of problems with sleep and dreams fascinate me."

There's so much scientific evidence here. The author explores sleep with in-depth analysis. So far, it's great and the author mentioned that whenever we feel sleepy reading his book, he will take it not as an offense, but a blessing! 😂 After all, he's a sleep-advocate.


Susan's Reviews I wonder if this book will make me sleepy?! (Just kidding) I've read similar books and articles. Let me know if sheds any new light on the subject. I don't want to "lose any sleep over it" if it is not worth ready. (I'm just being silly!) I'll wait for your review, first, though.


JV (semi-hiatus) Susan's wrote: "I wonder if this book will make me sleepy?! (Just kidding) I've read similar books and articles. Let me know if sheds any new light on the subject. I don't want to "lose any sleep over it" if it is..."

lol! 😂 It's very informative, Susan! The pacing picked up @ 30%, the juicy bits are there. I'll let you know as soon as I'm done with this. So far, so good! And the author said that it's okay if you get sleepy while reading this. 🤗


message 8: by sue (new)

sue Is it a heavy book JV, ? I’m not sleeping too good and could use it like an hammer to hit me unconscious 😂

Sorry......couldn’t resist🤪


JV (semi-hiatus) sue wrote: "Is it a heavy book JV, ? I’m not sleeping too good and could use it like an hammer to hit me unconscious 😂

Sorry......couldn’t resist🤪"


lololol! Scientifically, yes, dear Sue! 😂😂😂 My brain isn't absorbing much because I'm having some kind of a microsleep while reading this. So, hammer awaaaayyyyyy! 🤣


message 10: by sue (new)

sue JV wrote: "sue wrote: "Is it a heavy book JV, ? I’m not sleeping too good and could use it like an hammer to hit me unconscious 😂

Sorry......couldn’t resist🤪"

lololol! Scientifically, yes, dear Sue! 😂😂😂 My ..."



Hahaha!

Seriously though, sounds interesting. Quality sleep is vital to our health and wellbeing. And our brain empties (or should) some of the strains of the day to battle the next🙄🤔 so they say🥴 but that doesn’t always happen. So this book sounds helpful?


message 11: by JV (semi-hiatus) (last edited Feb 22, 2019 03:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

JV (semi-hiatus) sue wrote: "JV wrote: "sue wrote: "Is it a heavy book JV, ? I’m not sleeping too good and could use it like an hammer to hit me unconscious 😂

Sorry......couldn’t resist🤪"

lololol! Scientifically, yes, dear S..."


Yup, it's really helpful! Everything is science-based and supported by years of research with lots of evidence why sleep is important for us as well as animals and plants. 7 hours of sleep each day already deprives our body of something great and "sleeping it over" during the weekends, as the author said, will not help. Sleeping 7 hours daily is almost equivalent to one day worth of no sleep at all (since 8 hours is the optimum), that's depriving the body of our cognitive functions, motor skills, memory, etc. He also tackles quantity and quality sleep here in relation to several stages of our lives: babies, kids, teens, adolescent, young adult, and old adults. Aside from that, sleep and illness is also explored, so this is indeed a great and fantastic read! 🥰 I'm hoping this book will help you, dear Sue! Hugs from me to you! ❤️❤️❤️


message 12: by sue (new)

sue JV wrote: "sue wrote: "JV wrote: "sue wrote: "Is it a heavy book JV, ? I’m not sleeping too good and could use it like an hammer to hit me unconscious 😂

Sorry......couldn’t resist🤪"

lololol! Scientifically,..."


I’m fascinated now


Susan's Reviews I thought Sue's comments were hilarious (the British have the best sense of humour). And I agree with both of you: I get very cranky and flaky if I don't get 7 or more hours of sleep. I switched to decaf tea and coffee, and try not to eat anything that gives me indigestion, because I find that I will have nightmares if I do. (I have TERRIBLE sleep habits, because I can never seem to put a good book down, but I do try to get at least 7 to 8 hours - otherwise, Zombieland, here I come!) You read such informative books!


JV (semi-hiatus) Susan's wrote: "I thought Sue's comments were hilarious (the British have the best sense of humour). And I agree with both of you: I get very cranky and flaky if I don't get 7 or more hours of sleep. I switched to..."

Oh yes, I love Sue's comment! ❤️ Sue, can you hear me still guffawing from here? 😂

By the way Susan, caffeine and sleep has a correlation. The author explains it very well in this book and sleeping at least 8 hours is for optimum health. If I recall correctly, it's better to drink coffee, tea, or anything caffeinated in the morning, but not in the afternoon and hours before you go to sleep. And I love learning new things, added knowledge! 🤗


JV (semi-hiatus) sue wrote: "JV wrote: "sue wrote: "JV wrote: "sue wrote: "Is it a heavy book JV, ? I’m not sleeping too good and could use it like an hammer to hit me unconscious 😂

Sorry......couldn’t resist🤪"

lololol! Scie..."


Will post my thoughts soon, dear Sue! 🥰 A must read as it covers a lot of topics from illnesses, dreams, sleep deprivation, etc.


message 16: by sue (new)

sue I can’t drink caffeine so I pass 👍 I still maintain I need a hammer lol

I need 10 hours than I’m fine less than that I’m a zombie even less I’m worse than grumpy from the dwarfs in Snow White


JV (semi-hiatus) sue wrote: "I can’t drink caffeine so I pass 👍 I still maintain I need a hammer lol

I need 10 hours than I’m fine less than that I’m a zombie even less I’m worse than grumpy from the dwarfs in Snow White"


I'm going there now and I'm lending you my hammer this time! 😂

With so many things you're currently juggling, you really need rest, dear Sue! Sending my love and hugs! 🤗❤️


Susan's Reviews Okay, you guys have talked me into it. JV: I will nix the coffee and tea after 12 noon, and stash my eReader after midnight in a place where I can't find it. (Sniffle, sniffle!) Then, after I get a good night's sleep, I will read this book!
Sue, I think hammers are a bit drastic, and, wow, 10 hours of sleep sounds wonderful, but think of all the lovely books you could read with an extra two hours of reading time. Bad enough we have to work so many hours during the day. I absolutely HAVE to read something every day, or I feel the day was a complete write off! I love to get lost in a novel - the world just fades away....


JV (semi-hiatus) Susan's wrote: "Okay, you guys have talked me into it. JV: I will nix the coffee and tea after 12 noon, and stash my eReader after midnight in a place where I can't find it. (Sniffle, sniffle!) Then, after I get a..."

That's the spirit! The author has 12 useful tips, it can be found in the Appendix. Hope you'll enjoy Susan! Just don't listen to the audiobook, it will make you really sleepy! 😂 I needed to play that at 1.45x speed to keep me awake!


Susan's Reviews JV wrote: "Susan's wrote: "Okay, you guys have talked me into it. JV: I will nix the coffee and tea after 12 noon, and stash my eReader after midnight in a place where I can't find it. (Sniffle, sniffle!) The..."
That was funny! Can you hear me laughing all the way from Canada? I'm sure I woke my neighbours with my guffaws. Okay. End of this thread! (But it was fun: sometimes I joined the Goodreads polls - loved the "Would you rather be stuck in a library or a book store overnight" poll. The threads go on forever sometimes. Happy reading!


JV (semi-hiatus) Susan's wrote: "JV wrote: "That was funny! Can you hear me laughing all the way from Canada? I'm sure I woke my neighbours with my guffaws. Okay. End of this thread! (But it was fun:"

Haha! Thank you Susan! Happy reading to you as well! 🥰


Pedro I’ve read this book as well. Great review, JV. And now, time for a 15 minutes nap. Catch you later. 😴


message 23: by classic reverie (last edited Feb 26, 2019 07:08AM) (new)

classic reverie Wonderful review, JV! 🌸 I know my sleep has been stressed to minimal over the years by working nights and staying up due to things that need to be done. I know how one can hallucinate and do things strange for lack of sleep. (Putting ice cream in cabinet instead of freezer and hearing things; there are more examples but I will spare everyone! )😊 Just from what I have experienced over the years, I can see how the whole body is prone to have troubles or illness. You did a wonderful job in warning us all! I am going to miss my nap today but hopefully tomorrow, I will catch up! 😆💤


message 24: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Terrific review, JV! I think I"ll go stock up on some sleeping pills now 😴


message 25: by Richard (new)

Richard An excellent and fascinating review JV :)


message 26: by Maureen (new)

Maureen As usual, you’ve written such an entertaining review JV but boy do I feel sleepy 💤now! 😂


message 27: by Holly (new)

Holly  B Amazing review JV!


message 28: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara Such an entertaining review, JV.! Commanded or not, I doubt I will sleep well, but I'll check this book out. Thanks, JV.


message 29: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Insightful review, JV! I feel like I learned a lot of about one of my favorite activities!


message 30: by Julie (new)

Julie Besides reading, sleeping is my favorite activity. This sounds really interesting. Great review, as always! 😊💕😊


message 31: by Mischenko (new) - added it

Mischenko Excellent review, JV! I need to read this one. Glad you enjoyed it. 😉


message 32: by Diane (new)

Diane Your review has intrigued me... Another added to the WTR Pile!


message 33: by Sandra (last edited Feb 26, 2019 09:06PM) (new)

Sandra I loved your review JV! This book sounds interesting! :D


JV (semi-hiatus) Pedro Matilde wrote: "I’ve read this book as well. Great review, JV. And now, time for a 15 minutes nap. Catch you later. 😴"

Haha! Thanks so much, Pedro! 😊 Go for that biphasic sleep!


JV (semi-hiatus) classic reverie wrote: "Wonderful review, JV! 🌸 I know my sleep has been stressed to minimal over the years by working nights and staying up due to things that need to be done. I know how one can hallucinate and do things..."

Thank you, classic reverie! 🤗 I'm guilty too when I had that year of nightshifts. It took a toll on my physical health, but it has greatly affected my mental health triggering my depression. Thank goodness I'm not into that anymore. Sending hugs to you and go get that much-needed nap 🥰


message 36: by JV (semi-hiatus) (last edited Feb 26, 2019 09:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

JV (semi-hiatus) Jenna wrote: "Terrific review, JV! I think I"ll go stock up on some sleeping pills now 😴"

Many thanks, dear Jenna! 🤗 No, don't! It interrupts our internal clock. I forgot to mention that in my review, oh absent-minded me! Here's the author's take:

"Sleeping pills, old and new, target the same system in the brain that alcohol does—the receptors that stop your brain cells from firing—and are thus part of the same general class of drugs: sedatives. Sleeping pills effectively knock out the higher regions of your brain’s cortex. If you compare natural, deep-sleep brainwave activity to that induced by modern-day sleeping pills, such as zolpidem (brand name Ambien) or eszopiclone (brand name Lunesta), the electrical signature, or quality, is deficient."


JV (semi-hiatus) Richard wrote: "An excellent and fascinating review JV :)"

Thank you kindly, Richard! 😊


JV (semi-hiatus) Maureen wrote: "As usual, you’ve written such an entertaining review JV but boy do I feel sleepy 💤now! 😂"

Thanks heaps, dear Maureen! Want me to turn the lights off for you or sing a lullaby that will keep you awake? 😂🤗


JV (semi-hiatus) Nicola wrote: "Omg !!! It’s amazing how being so titillated can make one giggle so much it has the opposite effect of making them sleepy!!! 🏳🏳2-0
Bravo dearest JV!! 😘Excellent and really interesting review too!!..."


lololol! 😂 Need some sleeping pills? Oh scratch that! I forgot that wasn't good!

Thank you dearest Nicola! 🤗🥰


JV (semi-hiatus) Holly wrote: "Amazing review JV!"

Thanks so much, Holly! 💖


JV (semi-hiatus) Barbara wrote: "Such an entertaining review, JV.! Commanded or not, I doubt I will sleep well, but I'll check this book out. Thanks, JV."

Thank you very much, Barbara! Hope you'll enjoy this insightful book! ❤️


JV (semi-hiatus) Meredith wrote: "Insightful review, JV! I feel like I learned a lot of about one of my favorite activities!"

Many thanks, dear Meredith! 🤗 And same here!


JV (semi-hiatus) Julie wrote: "Besides reading, sleeping is my favorite activity. This sounds really interesting. Great review, as always! 😊💕😊"

Thank you very much, dear Julie! 🤗 I love it too, especially small naps in between. As the author says, "From a prescription written long ago in our ancestral genetic code, the practice of natural biphasic sleep, and a healthy diet, appear to be the keys to a long-sustained life."


JV (semi-hiatus) Mischenko wrote: "Excellent review, JV! I need to read this one. Glad you enjoyed it. 😉"

Thank you so much for your kind comment, Mischenko! 🥰


JV (semi-hiatus) Diane wrote: "Your review has intrigued me... Another added to the WTR Pile!"

Thank you Diane! This is an important read. Enjoy! 😊


JV (semi-hiatus) Sandra wrote: "I loved your review JV! This book sounds interesting! :D"

Thank you very much, dear Sandra! 🥰It was indeed interesting, but it took me a week to finish this one because I'm nodding off most of the time, which might also be the purpose of the book! 😂


message 47: by Karina (new)

Karina JV, have you thought about being a freelance writer for a magazine or something?! Dude, you had me rolling! It is about to be 10pm and I'm more interested in reading than sleeping! Which is why I look like I'm 70 not 33... Lol
Also, does it talk about technology being a culprit of non sleeping? I think the cell phone is a real addiction...
Anyway, great review!! So fun to hear about the ways lack of sleep will kill me... hugs JV!


JV (semi-hiatus) Karina wrote: "JV, have you thought about being a freelance writer for a magazine or something?! Dude, you had me rolling! It is about to be 10pm and I'm more interested in reading than sleeping! Which is why I l..."

lol! I'm glad that you're entertained, Karina! 🤗 I've never thought of doing freelance, because I'm really anxious when submitting my personal and silly thoughts! The editor might ask "who's this guy going bonkers applying as a freelancer?" 😂 If I'm ready perhaps I'll take that wonderful opportunity!

The author also talked about gadgets, blue light, and LED lights too. I'd love to put all the quotes in my review, but I fear it would be too long. So here's a snippet, it's really informative:
"Using LED devices at night impacts our natural sleep rhythms, the quality of our sleep, and how alert we feel during the day. The societal and public health ramifications, discussed in the penultimate chapter, are not small. I, like many of you, have seen young children using electronic tablets at every opportunity throughout the day . . . and evening. The devices are a wonderful piece of technology. They enrich the lives and education of our youth. But such technology is also enriching their eyes and brains with powerful blue light that has a damaging effect on sleep—the sleep that young, developing brains so desperately need in order to flourish.

Due to its omnipresence, solutions for limiting exposure to artificial evening light are challenging. A good start is to create lowered, dim light in the rooms where you spend your evening hours. Avoid powerful overhead lights. Mood lighting is the order of the night. Some committed individuals will even wear yellow-tinted glasses indoors in the afternoon and evening to help filter out the most harmful blue light that suppresses melatonin.

Maintaining complete darkness throughout the night is equally critical, the easiest fix for which comes from blackout curtains."
And thank you so much! I appreciate your wonderful and kind comment! I, too, was guilty years ago as I was working on a nighttime shift. If only I read this book first! Felt like a zombie back then! I'm 32 going 33, but boy, I'm having back pains at my age! Hugs to you too! 🤗🥰


message 49: by Karina (new)

Karina Thanks a mill JV! I'll add to my list. Sounds like something very useful and informative. And thanks for adding that quote on my behalf...

And ummm NO.. I'd rather read your reviews that are real than some snotty boring pretentious (fill in the blank!) Anyway, g'night JV. You're an awesome person to chit chat with.


message 50: by JV (semi-hiatus) (last edited Feb 27, 2019 01:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

JV (semi-hiatus) Karina wrote: "Thanks a mill JV! I'll add to my list. Sounds like something very useful and informative. And thanks for adding that quote on my behalf...

And ummm NO.. I'd rather read your reviews that are real..."


You're welcome and thank you so much, Karina! 🤗 Good night and sleep tight! 🥰


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