Petra-X's Reviews > Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
1237196
's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2019-read, 2019-100-reviews, medicine-science, reviewed

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 Kleitman and a colleague attempted to change their body clocks. They spent a month in a cave, 140 feet underground with no natural light and a constant temperature of 54 °F. They used lanterns to regulate their "daylight". Each day they slept for 9 hours, worked for 10 and rested for another 9. They measured the rhythm of their body temperatures but could not adjust either that or themselves to the 28-hour cycle, it stubbornly remained at 24 hours no matter what.

One of the most intractible sleep disorders is that where the person's body clock does not conform to the universal circadian rhythm. The example given in the book is of a boy whose cycle shifts by an hour a day. For a few days a month he sleeps and is awake and working efficiently at the same time as his schoolmates. But nothing the doctor, the author could do, or any medication, could stop his natural wanting to sleep and wanting to wake to a 24 hour rhythm. The disorder made education very difficult, but as a man, he can work for himself and choose his own hours.
166 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Why We Sleep.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

June 29, 2019 – Started Reading
June 30, 2019 – Shelved
June 30, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019-read
June 30, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019-100-reviews
June 30, 2019 – Shelved as: medicine-science
June 30, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed
June 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Valerity (Val) Great info! I nearly got that book, as I have a rare sleep disorder.


Petra-X Valerity (Val) wrote: "Great info! I nearly got that book, as I have a rare sleep disorder."

What disorder? Maybe it is mentioned in the book.


message 3: by HBalikov (new)

HBalikov Very interesting. Thanks!


message 4: by Gayathri (new) - added it

Gayathri I am currently reading this book (not progressing because of other commitments), and I find it to be both fascinating and terrifying. I have never enjoyed a non-fiction as much as this one! Great review :)


Petra-X Gayathri wrote: "I have never enjoyed a non-fiction as much as this one! Great r..."

I think what makes it so fascinating is that the world of sleep is unknown to us as we are unconscious, yet it is the most familiar thing in all the world. The author explains this great mystery to us and we find that what we thought was really ordinary can be quite strange. Well, that's my take on it anyway!


message 6: by Gayathri (new) - added it

Gayathri Gayathri wrote: "I am currently reading this book (not progressing because of other commitments), and I find it to be both fascinating and terrifying. I have never enjoyed a non-fiction as much as this one! Great r..."

Yeah! He explains it really well, without getting either too technical or dumbing it down.


Petra-X Gayathri wrote: "Yeah! He explains it really well, without getting either too technical or dumbing it down. ..."

That's why I like Carl Zimmer so much. Mary Roach is a very popular science writer but, to me, she really dumbs things down.


message 8: by Hanneke (new)

Hanneke Fascinating review, Petra! Perhaps it's not a bad idea for me to read the book as I would like to know why I am sleeping so much less in the last years and waking up so damn early nowadays which I never did before. In fact, I was a notorious long sleeper and could even hardly talk before 10 a.m. Does it say anything about that in the book?


Petra-X Hanneke wrote: "Perhaps it's not a bad idea for me to read the book as I would like to know why I am sleeping so much less in the last years and waking up so damn early nowadays which I ..."

Outside of a disorder, it isn't unusual. It is part of age. Babies sleep the most, old people the least until they get very old (and like babies) again! But read it anyway because it's fascinating.


message 10: by Hanneke (new)

Hanneke Thanks, although that's not good news! But, yes, I'll order it as I find it an interesting subject.


back to top