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Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams Paperback – June 19, 2018
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“A thoughtful tour through the still dimly understood state of being asleep … Why We Sleep is a book on a mission. Walker is in love with sleep and wants us to fall in love with sleep, too. And it is urgent. He makes the argument, persuasively, that we are in the midst of a ‘silent sleep loss epidemic’ that poses ‘the greatest public health challenge we face in the 21st century’ … Why We Sleep mounts a persuasive, exuberant case for addressing our societal sleep deficit and for the virtues of sleep itself. It is recommended for night-table reading in the most pragmatic sense.”
—New York Times Book Review
"The director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab explores the purpose of slumber. Understanding the 'why,' it turns out, just might help you with the 'how to.'"
"A neuroscientist has found a revolutionary way of being cleverer, more attractive, slimmer, happier, healthier and of warding off cancer — a good night’s shut-eye ... It’s probably a little too soon to tell you that Why We Sleep saved my life, but I can tell you that it’s been an eye-opener."
"This is a stimulating and important book which you should read in the knowledge that the author is, as he puts it, 'in love with everything that sleep is and does.' But please do not begin it just before bedtime."
"Fascinating ... Walker describes how our resting habits have changed throughout history; the connection between sleep, chronic disease, and life span; and why the pills and aids we use to sleep longer and deeper are actually making our nights worse. Most important, he gives us simple, actionable ways to get better rest—tonight."
“Walker is a scientist but writes for the layperson, illustrating tricky concepts with easily grasped analogies. Of particular interest to business owners, educators, parents, and government officials, and anyone who has ever suffered from a poor night’s sleep.”
—Library Journal, starred review
"Why We Sleep is simply a must-read. World-renowned neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker takes us on a fascinating and indispensable journey into the latest understandings of the science of sleep. And the book goes way beyond satisfying intellectual curiosity, as it explores the cognitive, health, safety and business consequences of compromising the quality and quantity of our sleep; insights that may change the way you live your life. In these super-charged, distracting times it is hard to think of a book that is more important to read than this one."
—Adam Gazzaley, co-author of The Distracted Mind, founder and executive director of Neuroscape, and Professor of Neurology, Physiology, and Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco
“Most of us have no idea what we do with a third of our lives. In this lucid and engaging book, Matt Walker explains the new science that is rapidly solving this age-old mystery. Why We Sleep is a canny pleasure that will have you turning pages well past your bedtime.”
—Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard and author of Stumbling on Happiness
"In Why We Sleep, Dr. Matt Walker brilliantly illuminates the night, explaining how sleep can make us healthier, safer, smarter, and more productive. Clearly and definitively, he provides knowledge and strategies to overcome the life-threatening risks associated with our sleep-deprived society. Our universal need for sleep ensures that every reader will find value in Dr. Walker's insightful counsel."
—Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D., former NHTSA Administrator, NTSB member, and NASA scientist
About the Author
Matthew Walker is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at UC Berkeley, the Director of its Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, and a former professor of psychiatry at Harvard University. He has published over 100 scientific studies and has appeared on 60 Minutes, Nova, BBC News, and NPR’s Science Friday. Why We Sleep is his first book.
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-Routinely sleeping less than 6 or 7 hours a night increases your risk of cancer by 50%.
-Every species every studied, preceding the emergence of vertebrates even, sleeps. Some species can sleep with only half their brain (!!). Sleep is an incredibly risky thing for an animal to do because you are completely vulnerable to predators when you sleep. But sleep is THAT important that it was preserved by evolution.
-After even one night of less than 5 hours of sleep, natural killer cells (which kill cancer cells that appear in your body EVERY DAY) drop by 70%. Just one night!!!
Buy it, read it, and then share it with everyone you know.
Are you tired? If your answer is yes, it would seem relatively straightforward to assume you're not getting enough sleep. Yet, signs of sleep deprivation may not always be this obvious (and there are other factors besides sleep loss that can make you feel fatigued).
Dr. Walker does an outstanding job of helping you understand the mystery of why we sleep and unravels some of it mysteries, like why your brain shuts down motor control to your muscles during the most active part of sleep, REM sleep. During REM sleep, there is a nonstop barrage of motor commands swirling around your brain, and they underlie the movement-rich experience of dreams. Thankfully Nature tailored a physiological straitjacket that forbids these fictional movements from becoming reality which protects you from harming yourself. Your brain paralyzes your body during REM sleep so your mind can dream safely.
Dr. Walker also consults for many professional teams and helps their athletes understand how sleep is one of the most sophisticated, potent, and powerful—not to mention legal—performance enhancers that has real game-winning potential. Sleep can radically reduce career or season ending injuries and massively improve performance if optimized correctly.
On the downside he reviews the dangers of what most of us do every night. Not sleep enough. This coming week, more than 2 million people in the US will fall asleep while driving their motor vehicle. That’s more than 250,000 every day, with more such events during the week than weekends for obvious reasons. More than 56 million Americans admit to struggling to stay awake at the wheel of a car each month. As a result, 1.2 million accidents are caused by sleepiness each year in the United States. You may find it surprising to learn that vehicle accidents caused by drowsy driving exceed those caused by alcohol and drugs combined. And if you happen to be drinking or using drugs the results are not additive but synergistically exponential radically increasing your risk of an accident, injury or death.
These are only a few examples of the highly useful information you will receive by reading this book. Highly recommended.
All of this is revealed in this excellent book that focuses on the role of sleep for humans (and, no doubt, also for animals as well). Our sleep cycle is essential to our health and breaking it up or altering it drastically, works against us and makes us less sharp.
"Why We Sleep" does a fine job of addressing these issues and explaining the research that has discovered the role of sleep and why it remains an important part of our health. Keep in mind that this book doesn't provide much in the way of solutions for patients beyond general recommendations for "sleep hygiene" as solving the problem really should be done by local sleep physicians (and each individual will have possible different solutions).