Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Author: Matthew Walker PhD

We all have a relationship with sleep. We tend to understand that sleep is important, but I think many don’t give it enough credit. This book hit me early with a profound fact: “Without exception, every animal species studied to date sleeps, or engages in something remarkably like it.”

The author of this book, Matthew Walker, is a sleep researcher. He doesn’t think his profession has done a good enough job communicating the science of sleep nor the implications of not sleeping enough. So he wrote this book. I, as a reader, am thoroughly convinced.

Walker references dozens of studies that all highlight aspects of the same core conclusion – sleep is critical to high physical and mental performance, and there’s no way to cheat it.  If you are sleep deprived at all (even 60 minutes matters), you aren’t functioning at your best. Moreover, if you’re sleep deprived you are opening the door to all sorts of diseases because your immune system isn’t operating at 100%.

I think this book is applicable to everybody – whether you’re already a good sleeper or not – for the insight that it brings around how to improve sleep quality.

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100 blocks a day. 

It’s healthy to sit and think about this concept for a bit: “Most people sleep about seven or eight hours a night. That leaves 16 or 17 hours awake each day. Or about 1,000 minutes. Let’s think about those 1,000 minutes as 100 10-minute blocks. That’s what you wake up with every day.” learn more

How to design your ideal workday based on your sleep habits. 

“When it comes to falling asleep and waking up, Breus has found there are four types of people in the world–or rather, animals: bears, lions, wolves, and dolphins. Each represents a so-called ‘chronotype’ that describes your body’s natural sleep habits and energy patterns.” I have no idea how true this is, but it sure is interesting. learn more

Why older people have different sleep schedules. 

“Out of more than 220 total hours of sleep observation, researchers found only 18 minutes when all adults were sound asleep simultaneously. Typically, older participants in their 50s and 60s went to bed earlier and woke up earlier than those in their 20s and 30s. On average, more than a third of the group was alert, or lightly dozing, at any given time.” learn more

Second sleep used to be a thing. 

A historian found that people used to divide their sleep into two separate periods, waking up in the middle of the night to take care of stuff – chores, reading, praying, etc. Electric lights might have caused our schedules to change, inadvertently causing a third of Americans to have a hard time sleeping through the night. |learn more and even more