A Book Review: Why we sleep by Matthew Walker

A Book Review: Why we sleep by Matthew Walker

Some years ago, I would never have read non-fiction for fun. Since I met my SO and his flatmate (and childhood friend), I have been convinced to read so many non-fiction books my 25 year old self would have laughed in derision. 

I read Why we sleep and once I started I couldn’t get enough of it. It is shocking to think that sleep has such a huge impact on our lives and we are so uneducated in it. In schools we are taught about eating healthy, putting sunscreen on, getting exercise and staying healthy but sleep is pretty neglected in our current education system. 

This book shows us how sleep is the foundation for your health. It affects your immune system, your fertility, your cognitive abilities, your rationality and decision making - jobs that have shift work and require workers to do a night shift have been classified as a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organisation - that means its been recognised that lack of sleep could cause you cancer. 

I will let you read the book yourself but I urge you, if you are a reluctant reader and dont end up finishing it, know this:

  • Sleep is essential for a child’s development and future relationships. Let your babies sleep as much as they want and don’t impose routine on a baby who has not yet developed a circadian rhythm - REM is essential to their cognitive development. 

  • Our circadian rhythms are approx 24 hours and 15 minutes. Like our ancestors, we should wake with the sun and sleep with it if possible, avoiding screens and blue light which trigger cortisone at a time when our bodies would naturally be releasing melatonin which regulates and promotes sleep. 

  • Circadian rhythms for teenagers are a few hours ahead of adults - for them to develop socially. Let them sleep late and if you have teenagers try to put them in a school with a later start time like 8.45 or 9am.

  • Sleep is extremely important for our immunity and general health. Lack of sleep has been associated with Alzheimer's, Parkinsons and Cancer. People can die from lack of sleep. (Look up Michael Corke - Fatal Familial Insomnia)

  • If you have trouble sleeping, reach out for help and seek CBT-I. Do not use sleeping pills. Research has shown that even occasional use of sleeping pills can increase your risk of death. 

  • Lack of sleep can affect your fertility for men and women. Children are impacted after birth if their pre-birth sleep was disrupted by things like maternal alcohol consumption pre-conception or while breastfeeding. 

These were probably my most important take aways from the book. 

I would urge you all to read it yourself but if you dont - i hope you are at least curious about why sleep is so important for you and do a bit of research yourself. 

Cover Image by Stocksnap from Pixabay

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