Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Review: Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

34466963Title: Why We Sleep
Series: n/a
Author: Matthew Walker
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; Science
Publisher/Publication Date: Scribner; October 3, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

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. An explosion of scientific discoveries in the last twenty 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. 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 accessible, Why We Sleepis a crucial and illuminating book....
Why We Sleep is probably one of the most fascinating nonfiction books I’ve read this year. Organized in four sections—This Thing Called Sleep, Why Should You Sleep?, How and Why We Dream, and From Sleeping Pills to Society Transformed—Matthew Walker expertly writes about the science behind sleep and dreams.

Why We Sleep went into a number of topics. Things like the effects from the lack of quality NREM and REM sleep can have on the mind and body was talked about, as well as the benefits of sleep well with a healthy number of uninterrupted hours. Walker also went into the connection between sleep and memory. So, as a whole, I liked the majority of this book. It was highly informative.

While I was reading Why We Sleep, it was easy to see that Walker knew what he was talking about. Throughout the chapters, he goes in depth about studies that have been conducted over the years, and many of the ones he cited were those he was involved in during his career. That kind of first hand observation and knowledge about what it takes to study sleep—the high and low points experienced during the research process + revelations (aha moments) from unexpected sources—was part of what made the book so interesting.

One of my favorite sections of Why We Sleep was How and Why We Dream, which, as the name suggests, went in-depth about some of the science behind dreaming. And there were studies to back up the information provided. It was pretty cool to read about since I never considered those specific reasons for how dreams correlate with things experienced while awake.

Later down the road, I would like to read more about the subject of sleep. For now, I want to look into buying a copy of Why We Sleep since I only checked it out from the library. This is one book that I want to have on my shelf.

What about you? Have you read any books about sleep or dreaming? If you have, feel free to leave any recommendations down in the comment section below....

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