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Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Book review

February 13, 2018

Cover of Why We Sleep

Let’s face it sleep gets in the way of work. It’s down time we’re supposed to have because it’s good for us, but we can’t get anything done while we’re out cold.

Or do we?

The brain is actually very busy and productive while we sleep, remodelling and updating neural circuits. Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) removes any unnecessary neural connections. Rapid eye movement (REM), the time when we usually dream, strengthens the connections that have been made. We spend our whole time asleep shuttling between the two processes. That is if we are getting proper sleep. Start messing with this vital part of your life and the outcome is not good. Most of us are aware of the problems of being tired through not having proper sleep, but do not fully understand the long-term consequences of this. They are alarming.

Matthew Walker is a researcher in the field of sleep with a myriad of connections to like-minded colleagues, all with their own subtle takes on what sleep might be and how it affects someone physiologically and psychologically. This all lends to his depth of knowledge on an elusive and mysterious subject which few people give a second thought to.

His writing is plain and straightforward, frequently making analogies to everyday concepts, which make it possible to quickly grasp some quite complex neurological mechanisms.

What comes out of this book is both alarming, riveting and, if you’re paying attention, life changing.

Not only does the author piece together this extensive patchwork of research from the many different aspects of sleep, but also reminds us that when it comes to reported research, to carefully consider what the article is saying and how research and facts have been interpreted, unfortunately often with sensationalist and inaccurate interpretations.

Why We Sleep is not a “How To” book, but something which enables a reader to think about why sleep should be treated with great respect and how they might develop their own means of improving it.

This book is a must buy. Since reading Why We Sleep for review, I have bought it as a present for someone close to me who has problems sleeping. So far, they have been riveted. With a better understanding of the findings of the research and what it might mean to them personally in their everyday life, they have begun to address their problem.

Why We Sleep was courtesy of Penguin Books via NetGalley

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