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Why We Sleep

Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

by Matthew Walker

The first sleep book by a leading scientific expert - Professor Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab - reveals his groundbreaking exploration of sleep, explaining how we can harness its transformative power to change our lives for the better.

Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and longevity. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don't sleep. Compared to the other basic drives in life - eating, drinking, and reproducing - the purpose of sleep remained elusive.

But an explosion of scientific discoveries in the last 20 years has shed new light on this fundamental aspect of our lives. Now, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives us a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming. Among so many other things, within the brain, sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming mollifies painful memories and creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge to inspire creativity.

Walker answers important questions about sleep: How do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? What really happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect us, and can they do long-term damage? Charting cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs and synthesizing decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes; slow the effects of aging; increase longevity; enhance the education and lifespan of our children, and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses. Clear-eyed, fascinating, and immensely accessible, Why We Sleep is the crucial account on sleep that will forever change listeners' minds on the subject.

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Recommendations: 2

Categories: Health & WellnessPsychology & Mental Health

Reading time: 1011 hours


Alexis Ohanian
Co-founder of Reddit

And really thanks to this book, I’ve started to understand just how damaging that was and lack of sleep is and just how important it is. Especially if you’re trying to do next-level-type work, how important it is to get rest and recovery. It may seem obvious to you, it definitely didn’t to me, but the recovery and rest is as, or more, important than the work one actually does. You don’t need to look much further than even professional athletes who have the most objectively hard and demanding sort of industries because there are winners and losers every day, and it’s all ranked and a fairly level playing field. And so we make up the wins and losses in business and the way we keep score, but in sport, it’s very objective and very clear, and so it should have been no surprise to me that sleep mattered because every one of the greatest athletes talk about the time that they spend recovering as being as important, or more so, than the time they spend at work.

Amanda Palmer
Singer, Songwriter, Musician and Performance Artist

It’s just unbelievable. I’m not a person who reads constantly about self-improvement. I mean, I’m interested in it. I read a lot of nonfiction, but this book is just a collection of sleep studies, basically, and what this researcher has taken away as a sleep scientist from whatever, 25-30 years of doing sleep studies, and also what we’ve learned about other mammals, how they sleep, why we sleep, what happens when we are asleep. I mean, I find myself I’ve now bought a dozen copies of this book because I want everyone I love and I care about to know that this information is available.