Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

I read an excerpt of Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker in a newspaper some time ago. I found it very interesting, but also rather scary. Because Matthew Walker has studied sleep for over 20 years and has plenty of scientific evidence to prove that EVERYONE needs eight hours sleep a night. Regular readers will know I struggle with sleep. I’ve been a bit better lately – I haven’t seen 3 and I rarely even see 4, but I do wake up at 5 every single day, so I’m generally getting just under six hours sleep.

Was I brave enough to read Why We Sleep?

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have been if my friend Natalie from Plutonium Sox blog hadn’t kindly put her copy in the post for me! After she’d gone to all that trouble, I could hardly not read it, could I?

I did have another wobble, though. I read for pleasure. Reading is my way of relaxing, so I ALWAYS read fiction. I wasn’t sure about reading a non-fiction book. But I stopped wobbling and started to read.

Why We Sleep is an amazing, eye-opening book. It describes the different types of sleep and the purpose of them. It tells us there genuinely are morning people, evening people and ‘in between’ people and we can’t fight against nature. It describes what happens if we don’t get enough of the different types of sleep and, crucially, what happens if we don’t get enough sleep at all.

Sleep is essential for our health, education, work and safety. Drowsiness caused by insufficient sleep is a major cause of road accidents. Tiredness makes us less able to learn and work. And, most frightening of all, lack of sleep makes us more likely to get cancer and dementia, to name but two. We are more susceptible to infection, to weight gain and to Type 2 diabetes.

The book mentions Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, who both trained themselves to get by on around four hours sleep a night. But later in life they both suffered from dementia.

Matthew Walker believes our high-pressured society needs to change, so that we can all give ourselves time to sleep, because our lack of sleep is a ticking health time bomb. And sleeping pills are definitely not the answer.

Why We Sleep is a science book, so it’s nowhere near as easy to read as the thrillers I usually read, or even the literary novels I sometimes read. But it is pretty easy to read for a science book. I genuinely believe we should all read it, because I think nearly all of us, even those who don’t suffer from insomnia, are suffering from a lack of sleep which will bite us on the bum sooner or later, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Now all I need is to learn how to sleep better myself. For me, as a morning person, the answer probably lies in going to bed much earlier. It’s fine to wake at 5 every day, as long as I’m asleep by 9!

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Author: Sarah Mummy

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10 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you found it helpful, hope it wasn’t too scary for you because I know you have issues with sleep. I found it quite informative though, especially the bit about not working against your natural body clock. Although after many years of shift work, early starts and then parenting I’m not really sure when I would naturally be inclined to sleep!
    Nat.x

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    • It was brilliant, thanks. Thanks for lending it to me, I really appreciate it. It was scary finding out about the consequences of a lack of sleep, but I now know that I will probably never be able to sleep longer in the morning and the solution to my problem will have to simply be to go to bed earlier! x

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  2. I saw this book on Netgalley and often thought about requesting it! Now I feel I must read it, especially since I have so many problems sleeping myself #readwithme

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    • I would definitely recommend it, it’s a real eye opener! It certainly makes you question your own sleep and see it in a different light.

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  3. This sounds really interesting! I’m adding to my library request list! #readwithme

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    • It is really interesting. It will certainly change your way of thinking about sleep. Society accepts a lack of sleep as the norm, but this book has me completely convinced that this is very dangerous. I just need to work out how to sort mine out…

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  4. This sounds very interesting, I’ve had broken sleep for as long as I can remember due to having a bad back. The pain wakes me every couple of hours so I never feel like I’ve had enough sleep.
    I can’t remember what it feels like to not be tired.

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    • Oh dear, that must be so hard! I have no physical reason for not sleeping well – it’s just a combination of being a natural early bird with a bit of insomnia thrown in, I think. A lot of the time I don’t actually feel tired, but according to the book I am sleep deprived and at risk in a lot of ways 🙁

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  5. Interesting. I get by on very little sleep mostly, so today I was up at 5am for an early shift and here I am still up at nearly 11pm

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    • You need to read the book! Apparently shift work is seriously damaging to health. I get by on not enough sleep, but I really want to rectify it as I know it’s not good fro my health.

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