Why We Sleep Summary

Why We Sleep Book by Matthew Walker, PhD

Book Review, Summary, Highlights, and Quotes from Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD

Anyone picking up Why We Sleep already knows how important sleep is.

Study after study has confirmed such, and even then most of us never needed the studies anyway. Just wake up after 4 hours of sleep or less.

You feel it. You know it. It sucks!

But even if you already know how critical sleep is, you’ll still get something out of this book.

Matthew Walker does an amazing job of giving a wide scope of everything you’d ever want to know about sleep from how and why we dream to the history and evolution of sleep.

He cites study after study that will systematically show how important sleep is to everything from athletic performance to brain power to general health.

Sleep is hugely important. No doubt about it!

And if you’re interested in learning more about the science behind sleep, then this book is a must-read!

I highly recommend it and greatly enjoyed it.

AR’s Book Score: 9 out of 10

Key Book Highlights from Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD

Why We Sleep is split into four parts.

Part 1: Covers the history and evolution of sleep.

It does this by talking about different animals in the evolutionary timeline and how sleep came to be.

It also discusses the importance of sleep at various ages and discusses some common sleep inhibitors from caffeine to alcohol to jet lag.

Lastly, it gives a great overview of the differences between NREM sleep and REM sleep and why BOTH are important.

Part II: Makes the case for sleep

Using various studies Matthew shows unequivocally why sleep is important.

Study after study dismantles anything you ever thought you knew about sleep and sleep deprivation:

  • Sleep loss and sports injury
  • NBA player performance on eight hours of sleep or less
  • Sleep and concentration
  • Sleep loss and car crashes
  • Emotional volatility and sleep
  • Sleep and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancer, heart attacks, and sleep
  • Sleep and correlated weight gain
  • Lack of sleep weakens your immune system

Basically in a nutshell: sleep is important and you don’t want to mess with your sleep.

Part III: Delves into dreams

This section unpacks everything you ever wanted to know bout REM sleep and dreaming.

It helps explain why we dream and what uses we have for it, from healing psychologically to improving our creativity and problem-solving.

It also delves into if you can indeed control your dreams.

Part IV: Discusses how to sleep better

Finally, once you know how important sleep is, Matthew delves into what to do to sleep better (and what not to).

While I found the suggestions a bit limited overall, it certainly makes the case to figure out how to sleep better based on where you are going wrong:

  • Why iPads suppress melatonin release by over 50% over printed books
  • Why Caffeine and alcohol affect your sleep
  • 65 degrees is the ideal room temperature
  • Sleep and physical exertion have a bidirectional relationship
  • How sleep makes you more productive

Best Quotes from Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD

The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span. The old maxim “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is therefore unforunate.”

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day – Mother Nature’s best effort yet at contra-death.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Sleep helps you retain everything you need and nothing that you don’t, improving the ease of memory recollection.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Humans are not sleeping the way nature intended. The number of sleep bouts, the duration of sleep, and when sleep occurs have all been comprehensively distroted by moderninity.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

That older adults simply need less sleep is a myth. Older adults appear to need just as much sleep as they do in midlife, but are simply less able to generate that (still necessary) sleep.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Practice does not make perfect. It is practice, followed by a night of sleep, that leads to perfection.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Even daytime naps as short as twenty minutes can offer a memory consolidation advantage, so long as they contain enough NREM sleep.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

The term “muscle memory” is a misnomer. Muscles themselves have no such memory: a muscle that is not connected to a brain cannot perform any skilled actions, nor does a muscle store skilled routines. Muscle memory is, in fact, brain memory.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

One brain function that buckles under even the smallest dose of sleep deprivation is concentration.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

After being awake for nineteen hours, people who were sleep-deprived were as cognatively impaired as those who were legally drunk.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Getting too little sleep across the adult life span will significantly raise your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Sleep is more than a pillar; it is the foundation on which the other two health bastions sit. Take away the bedrock of sleep, or weaken it just a little, and careful eating or physical exercide become less than effective.”

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Every major system, tissue, and organ of your body suffers when sleep becomes short.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

When your sleep becomes short, you will gain weight. Multiple forces conspire to expand your waistline.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Compared to reading a printed book, reading on an iPad suppressed melatonin release by over 50 percent at night.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Many individuals believe alcohol helps them to fall alseep more easily, or even offers sounder sleep throughout the night. Both are resolutely untrue.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

Early studies demonstrated that shorter sleep amounts predict lower work rate and slow competion speed of basic tasks.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

The irony that empoyees miss is that when you are not getting enough sleep, you work less productively and thus need to work longer to accomplish a goal.

Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep

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