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Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success by [Shawn Stevenson, Sara Gottfried]
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Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success Kindle Edition

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews


"One of the missing pieces in the health conversation today is the importance of sleep. In Sleep Smarter you'll learn how sleep impacts your mind, body, and performance, plus practical solutions to help you get the best sleep ever." —Jonathan Bailor, New York Times Bestselling author of THE CALORIE MYTH

"If you're not sleeping, you're not healthy. Shawn Stevenson helps unravel our modern sleep crisis with clarity and focused solutions that can start helping you tonight. A must read." —Dr. Pedram Shojai, Founder of Well.Org

"Shawn Stevenson has provided us with the map to optimize our dreamtime, rest and recovery. This incredibly readable and actionable treatise is packed with strategies, tactics, and motivational text to get us on the path to deeper, more fulfilling rest tonight, and puts sleep back in its rightful place as the foundation upon which our whole health rests." —Daniel Vitalis, Founder of and

"Sleep was something that, since college, has never been that important to me. For over a decade I've sacrificed hours of sleep everyday to get more work done. Now that I'm in a phase of optimization for both personal and business reasons, thanks to Sleep Smarter, I realize that focusing on better sleep can help me get to the next level. I'm glad to have THE guide to proper sleep in my hands." --Pat Flynn, Bestselling author, Founder of --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



The topic of this chapter is a little unusual, but it's probably the most important. Many people are negligent about getting enough sleep because they don't truly understand the benefits they could be getting from it. Once you understand the advantages of getting high-quality sleep, you'll be passionate about to putting these strategies into action for yourself.

So what is sleep? And why is it important?

Well, defining sleep is a lot like trying to define life. No one completely understands it, and if you try to explain it, you're more likely to sound like Forrest Gump than a world-renown scholar. (Life is like a box of chocolates . . . sleep is like pretending to be dead.)

The Free Dictionary defines sleep as a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli.

That sounds a little weird, but the most important takeaway is that it's a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body. If you're not doing it, then you're being completely unnatural. And nobody likes unnatural people.

What's more important is knowing the big prizes that sleep gives you. Generally, being awake is catabolic (breaks you down) and being asleep is anabolic (builds you up). Sleep is known to be an elevated anabolic state, heightening the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, skeletal, and muscular systems. Basically, sleep rebuilds you and keeps you youthful.

High-quality sleep fortifies your immune system, balances your hormones, boosts your metabolism, increases your physical energy, and improves the function of your brain. Unless you give your body the right amount of sleep, you will never, I repeat never, have the body and life you want to have.

In our culture, sleep is not respected very much at all. In fact, we are often programmed with the idea that to be successful, we need to work harder, we need to sleep less, and we can catch up on all the sleep we want when we're dead. To say sleep is not respected is really an understatement.

Working hard is unarguably a big part of being successful, but so is working smart. So many people in our world today go on plugging away with work, burning the candle at both ends, not realizing that the quality of work they're doing is being radically compromised. Research shows that after just 24 hours of sleep deprivation, there is an overall reduction of 6 percent in glucose reaching the brain. Simple translation: You get dumber.

This is also why you crave candy, chips, doughnuts, and other starchy, sugary things when you're sleep deprived. Your body is trying to compel you to get that glucose back to your brain as soon as possible. It's a built-in survival mechanism. This is inherent in our genes because, in our days as hunter-gatherers, that lack of brainpower could mean a swift death from a predator or a substantially reduced ability to hunt and procure our own food for survival. Today, a simple trip to the refrigerator can bypass your body's cry for more sleep, but those stress mechanisms are still alive and well within your body right now.


The most valuable takeaway from this sleep deprivation "brain drain" discovery is that the reduction in glucose isn't shared equally. Your parietal lobe and the prefrontal cortex actually lose 12 to 14 percent of their glucose when you don't sleep. These are the areas of the brain we most need for thinking, for distinguishing between ideas, for social control, and for being able to tell the difference between right and wrong. Have you ever made a poor decision when you were up late at night that you wouldn't have made if your head was on right? Chances are you have.

It wasn't entirely your fault. Your brain was hijacked by a dumber (and slightly less attractive) version of yourself.

When you're sleep deprived, you are unknowingly setting up a steel cage match between your willpower and your biology. Sure, you might be committed to eating healthier, exercising more, or even choosing better relationships. But when your prefrontal cortex starts to shut down, if you've ever had a potato chip, if you've ever had sugary cereal, if you've ever had ice cream, your brain knows that it can find a quick source of glucose in those things and shuttle it back to where it is needed. Your willpower is now in a judo-style armbar as your entire body will compel you to seek those foods out.

The next thing you know, you have cheesy fingertips from jamming down a whole bag of cheese puffs, or you find yourself looking down the barrel of an empty pint of ice cream. Upset and defeated, you blame yourself, not realizing that you were set up for failure in the first place. When you are tired, you are not yourself. Well, at least not the best version of yourself. Being sleep-deprived will automatically stack the deck against you.

By sleeping smarter, you're going to be able to stack the conditions in your favor and put healthy choices on autopilot. You're going to get a ton of tips and strategies to make that happen, but first we need to take a look at how that sleepy brain is affecting the rest of your life.


A study published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that poor sleep quality was equal to binge drinking and marijuana use in determining academic performance. The study reported that college students who were poor sleepers were much more likely to earn worse grades and even drop out of classes than their healthy sleeping peers.

Finding out that poor sleep can be as detrimental to learning as binge drinking should be a real eye-opener. Learning is a big part of our lives no matter what stage we're at. Our ability to learn and retain information is paramount to our success.

Whether we're in school or in the workforce, we'll often sacrifice sleep in the name of getting things done. But it's important to remember that there's a big difference between "working" and actually being effective.

By forgoing your sleep, you can absolutely do more work, but the quality and effectiveness of your work will be sacrificed. A study published in The Lancet that looked at a group of physicians proved that sleep-deprived individuals took 14 percent longer to complete a task and made 20 percent more errors than individuals who were well rested. Not only are we taking longer to do the same task, but we're going to have to spend even more time trying to go back to clean up the mess we've made.

If you learn to structure your time to get more sleep first, then you'll be able to get your work done faster and more effectively than if you zombie- walked your way through it. You'll be able to be more creative and energetic, and you'll have greater access to the parts of your brain responsible for problem-solving. The cultural idea of sleeping when you're dead will only accelerate the day that it becomes your reality. And the impact that sleep deprivation has on your brain will make your life a whole lot harder while you're still here to enjoy it.


Since the beginning of documented human history, philosophers and scientists alike have postulated what the real purpose of sleep is. Since it's this weird state that we're in, unconscious to the world around us, this would be the time that we'd be most vulnerable to danger and predation. From an evolutionary perspective, you'd think that we would have evolved out of sleep by now if it was making it tougher on our survival.

But what's been discovered is that sleep is actually what has enabled us to grow and evolve to the incredible level we have. Sleep hasn't been an evolutionary problem; it's been an evolutionary catalyst.

The human brain is the most powerful structure on the planet. It has enabled us to build our bodies and to build skyscrapers--to build automobiles and to build spaceships--to unlock the power of technology to create the Internet and to unlock the power of our DNA to understand life. Our brains can think externally of any new circumstance, analyze the past, forecast the future, and create limitless strategies to get there.

Billions of brain cells are controlling every function in your body as well. It's important to understand that each brain cell is capable of doing what your whole body does. These cells eat, communicate, reproduce, and even make waste. Scientists have discovered that this process of waste removal might be one of the biggest connections to our critical need for high-quality sleep.

Your body has what is essentially a cellular waste management system called the lymphatic system. It's responsible for eliminating metabolic waste and toxins to keep you healthy. However, the lymphatic system does not include your brain. This is because your brain is a closed system controlled by the blood-brain barrier, which decides what can go through and what cannot. Your brain is heavily guarded by cellular bouncers that can spot a fake ID a mile away.

Scientists have found that the brain actually has its own unique waste disposal system, similar to that of the lymphatic system. It's called the glymphatic system--with the added "g" as a special shout-out to the glial cells in the brain that control it.

All of the dynamic functions the human brain does result in a lot of waste products, all of which need to be removed. This waste removal literally makes room for new growth and development. Removing and recycling dead cells, tossing out toxins, and shuttling out waste is critical to brain function.

Researchers at the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center have discovered exactly how sleep relates to all of this. During sleep, the glymphatic system becomes 10 times more active than during wakefulness. Simultaneously, your brain cells are reduced in size by about 60 percent while you're asleep to make waste removal even more efficient.

Because your brain is so active while you're awake (learning, developing, and helping you to be awesome), it's continuously building up a lot of byproducts that are mainly removed by the restorative power of sleep.

If the waste removal system in your home gets backed up, then things are going to get real nasty, real fast. The same thing holds true if you're not sleeping well and your glymphatic system doesn't get to do its job. As a matter of fact, an inability of your brain to remove harmful waste products is believed to be one of the foundational causes of Alzheimer's disease.


We've just covered a small slice of the pie on why sleep needs to be a top priority on your list from this day forward.

Always remember the value of your sleep. You will perform better, make better decisions, and have a better body when you get the sleep you require. Sleep is not an obstacle we need to go around. It's a natural state your body requires to boost your hormone function; heal your muscles, tissues, and organs; protect you from diseases; and make your mind work at its optimal level. The shortcut to success is not made by bypassing dreamland. You will work better, be more efficient, and get more stuff done when you're properly rested.



When you know you have a big task, project, or event coming up, pull out a calendar and plan ahead how you can get your ideal number of sleep hours in. Oftentimes it's as simple as setting up a schedule. But people overlook it because, well, it's just too easy.

If it's important to you, you'll schedule it. Stick to that schedule as well as you can, and know that you will get the work done better and faster if you're more rested. We usually sacrifice our sleep to cram in more work because we didn't plan efficiently. And as the wise Benjamin Franklin said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."



Begin reframing your idea of sleep. Instead of seeing sleep as an obstacle to work around (something you "have to" do), start seeing it as a special treat for yourself (something that you "get to" do) and love the entire process.

A real change begins with a simple change in your perception. Start to think of sleep as an incredible indulgence, like a sensuous dessert, a relaxing massage, a hot date with someone special, or something else that you really look forward to. "I've got a hot date with sleep tonight, and we are really going to get--it--on!" Start letting go of the stress surrounding sleep and allow yourself to enjoy it. You work hard enough in your life as it is. Treat yourself to some incredible sleep. You deserve it.

Now that we've gotten to the deeper connection as to why your sleep is so valuable, it's time to dive into the real nuts and bolts of sleeping smarter. You're about to be equipped with some powerhouse tools and tips that you'll be able to utilize for a lifetime of great sleep. Let's go! --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN : B019G14UQI
  • Publisher : Rodale Books; 1st edition (March 15, 2016)
  • Publication date : March 15, 2016
  • Language : English
  • File size : 4601 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 290 pages
  • Lending : Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 1,359 ratings

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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5.0 out of 5 stars 3 chapters in and this already gets 5 stars from me. And I don't give them out easily.
By The Tragic Poet on August 6, 2017
I usually do not give positive reviews often (check my history). I do a TON of reading of non fiction and self help.

I'm 3 chapters in and I'm already going to give this 5 stars. It's literally that good. It's very digestable, very organized, the author is clearly a "teacher" (by another teacher's standards) and knows what to say, how to say it, how to connect with people, and has a natural humor that makes it very compelling to keep listening (or in this case reading). I'm already enthralled 3 chapters and I'll probably finish the book before the week is over.

I already heard about the getting to sleep at the proper time. I've been doing it for about a week and already my outlook and attitude has changed completely.

Also... Whoever decided on the cover, font, layout and all of that... incredible job. I know how hard it is to nail those things down but nail them down you did. Great typeset, comfortable line height, everything was beautiful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend reading this book
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best book I've read to help health
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and works, shame about the further suggested purchases
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4.0 out of 5 stars So good I fell asleep reading it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant. Indispensable
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