Book Review: Why We Sleep, Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams is a must-read as it backs up opinion with statistics and numbers. By Oriana D’Souza
By Oriana D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | July 01, 2020
Book Review: Why We Sleep, Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
Author: Matthew Walker
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams is a book that presents arguments against the norm and the generally accepted belief of successful people that sleep is not as important! Most of these successful people boast about their five-hour nap times. The author, Matthew Walker, paints a picture of what lack of sleep would actually mean in the future and the disastrous effects it would have, holistically, to any and all individuals.
Walker, a British scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, brilliantly illustrates the importance of sleep in his book. A PHD in sleep research, Walker has worked with people from varying domains, right from athletes in the NBA to astronauts at NASA.
Each part, a treat…
The book is divided into four parts, each illustrating the innumerable amount of knowledge that the author extracted from his research and experiments. The first part explains in a broad view, the types of sleep and why we need each, going into detail in subsequent chapters. The information provided is in-depth and invaluable. The chapters are segregated in such a manner as to focus on aspects and scenarios. It does a good job in answering questions such as how long should I sleep? Why do I sleep? What benefit does sleep pose?
The second part highlights the benefits of sleeping; right from the emotional benefits especially to people suffering from psychological disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and even PTSD, to physical aspects like how it has a positive effect on exercise and weight fluctuations. It also plays a hand in how effective a diet can be. His arguments make it close to impossible to ignore the obvious benefits. He delves into statistics, adding numbers and figures while explaining the ill-effects a single night of no sleep can have on both, the body and the mind: it is truly frightening!
The third part explains the existence of dreams and emphasizes the root cause of the dreaming state, especially in relation to the mind and mental processes. Walker answers the question of why we dream and what need dreams serve.
The fourth and final part of the book highlights things that hamper the quality and quantity of sleep that we get. It also talks about the ill-effects of ‘over-the-counter’ sleeping pills and the use of any such prescribed drug. He discusses sleeping disorders such as insomnia and also speaks of his hope for a more informed future, one in which people truly understand the holistic well-being that 7-9 hours of rest can have.
Twelve suggestions to try out…
At the end of the book, the author provides readers with 12 suggestions for better sleeping habits. This is a one-stop guide to improving any terrible routine. Another message that the book strongly tries to convey is that there are people, although few, who perform better at nighttime and prefer to sleep later in the day. The early work schedule that we usually conform to seems to be unfair to them and their natural cycle.
Every chapter in the book has something new to teach. There’s never a ‘lull’ moment. Walker also advises his readers to skip chapters that are of no relevance to them and jump to the ones they find interesting. Apart from this, Walker does not just share an opinion but backs it up with statistics and numbers along with experiments and scientific findings. This builds up the confidence in the reader.
If you are one of those who think that success is all that matters and a cat-nap is what is ‘good for me’, please do a rethink. Better still, pick up a copy of the book and get yourself a good night’s sleep!
Footnote: Why We Sleep… is not a light read and it can take a push to finish. However, it is worth every page.
Benefits of Why We Sleep… experiment with myself…
After completion the book, I personally implemented a strict eight-hour sleep timeline along with other suggestions such as using only orange lights and switching off all LED lights close to bedtime.
I did not consume any beverages such as black coffee, other teas and cola after 12pm. I avoided electronic use one hour close to bedtime and have kept a fixed time for bed.
After maintaining these changes for just two days, I felt the immediate change. I have a better mood, a more productive and alert mind, reduced hunger, more energy when working out. I also have an increased sense of emotions in other people.
As a by-product of a proper schedule I found that I had more time on my hand and could organise my day to create a proper work-entertainment balance.