What I learned from “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker


Why we sleep book summary

Why We Sleep Summary and Review: the New Science of Sleep and Dreams

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker Summary

Why we sleep is a self help book unlike any other. Unlike other self help books that focuses of you working to the bone to do your life goals, Why We Sleep focuses on the importance of sleep in our lives. It makes sleeping a meta skill, meaning that this alone boosts a lot of aspect in your life such as memory, cognition, health, immune system, cardiovascular system and so much more. The various research in the book makes it a very notable book in terms the validity of its arguments. Definitely a worth read.

 

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We are in an epidemic, an epidemic of sleep deprivation, a culture telling that sleep is for sissies. That working continuously without sleeping or resting is the ultimate goal of human. Not sleeping and focusing on work is being praised upon as the right work ethic. Working for 24-36 hours straight is normal, especially for people in the medical field. Working for 80-100 hours each week is celebrated upon. And sleeping for just 4 hours a day is a goal. Is it right? or is it not? I’ve been searching the truth, my truth, and I learned from experience that most conventional wisdom is in fact, far away from the truth. And this book, Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker explained the importance of sleep in our lives.

Think about this. When we are sleeping, especially in the hunter gathering times, we are very susceptible to predators. When we sleep, we can’t get food, we can’t work. We can’t even protect ourselves. Any wild animal can feed on us. Sleep sounds very useless but in thousands of years that our existence, why do we still need to sleep?

Even animals go to sleep or a form of sleep. Some even go to hibernation that goes for months. If it is really that useless, why do almost all living creature sleep?

According to this book, sleep is very important to our health. From a Neurological perspective, Psychological, Cardiovascular, Immunity. Sleep affects almost everything. In my own experience, whenever I skip sleep in for a whole night, my digestive system is also affected. 

In the researches made in this book, it tells a lot of benefits in getting a full 7 hours of sleep. Increased number of White blood cells, Less occurrence of heart attacks and stroke, Faster reaction time, Increase in focus, Increase in memory, Increase in deep analytical skills, increase in physical activity, reduces risks of injury on sports, and A LOT MORE! There are numerous reasons to treat sleep seriously. If you want to join us, here are some of the tips to sleep better.

So here are the tips for a better sleep. 1. Is to limit Caffeine and Alcohol intake. First is caffeine, most of us know that the half life of caffeine is 6-7 hours. Which means that if you drink a cup of coffee in the morning, it will take 6-7 hours to remove half of it from our body. What we don’t expect is the quarter life of coffee which is 12-14 hours. Which means that after 14 hours, we still have 1/4 cup of the coffee we drink at night. It is like drinking 1/4 cup of coffee before bed. I know some of you might say that you can sleep well even if you drink coffee, but science says otherwise. In fact, it reduces your deep sleep. And as Dr. Matthew Walker explained. Drinking 1/4 cup of coffee is like increasing your age by 20 years in terms of sleep. For example, I am 26 years old, and by having 1/4 cup of coffee before bed, I will be sleeping like a 46 year old.

There’s a problem with that. I love coffee. I started drinking coffee ever since I was 14 years old and I am still not stopping. I might try to quit and make a video soon, so make sure to stay tuned to my experiences on quitting coffee.

Next is alcohol, it might seem that alcohol makes you sleepy. But the book also said that alcohol is a sedative. And sedatives are different from natural sleep. It also came with numerous studies that alcohol affects our deep sleep. Which is needed by our body for repair.

The Next Tip for a Better Sleep is regularity. This means go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time each and everyday. Yes, Including weekends. We are a creature of habit and if we make in into a habit whether we like or not. If we train our brain that a certain time is a time for sleep, it will automatically prepare itself to sleep. For me, it is 10pm each day, which I always sleep. So I set a sleep timer an hour before bed time for me to cool down with the things I need to do. Oh, and I have an alarm when to sleep, but not on waking up. Because I need to complete the sleep cycle in order to feel refreshed. Which comes to my third tip to sleep well which is cooling your body down.

Our body needs to cool down at least 1 degrees Celsius or 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit in order to sleep. Thus, if we could just help our body cool down, we could fall asleep much easier. And it’s natural, we naturally sleep at night and at night, it’s always cold. This comes in two methods. One is using the air conditioner which makes your environment cooler. Dr. Matthew Walker suggests to set the temperature to 18 degrees Celsius or 65 degrees Fahrenheit because it produced the best results. Another, which I am now always doing is to take a bath before bed. Ever wonder why our bathroom feels hot after shower? It is because we release heat when we shower. Thus, it helps reduce our temperature. Making us fall asleep faster and deeper.

Next tip is light. Our eyes are sensitive to light. Especially blue light. Blue light is not bad. It actually helps us to be awake. But there is a problem. Because of the lights we have in our homes, screens, phones, our eyes are being affected by it and it still tells our body that it is still daytime.

I am not anti-technology. I think that technology is a tool. And a tool can be both beneficial and harmful, depending on how we use them. And so, what we can do or what I do it so reduce blue light at night. There are numerous programs in both computer and phones to reduce blue light. Now, you don’t even need an app to reduce blue light on your phones. It is just in the settings. For computers, I recommend using f.lux to reduce blue light. And the good thing is you can adjust the program to activate on a certain time of the day. For me, that is about 6pm. f.lux activates on my computer because I have a tendency to work long hours on my videos. This helps me sleep better. And of course, when the alarm sounds at 9pm, I immediately stop my work, take a shower and just prepare the things I need to do for the next day.

But why do I started following his tips in the book? Well, because I have seen the difference in my life.

It’s amazing. Whenever I have a good sleep, I have a better memory, I make ideas faster, I can write the articles in my blog better. My quality of work became better which I can’t have if I don’t take sleep seriously. Just the effects of sleep in my brain is actually a lot. I also feel that my overall mood is better. Actually I follow all of the tips I mentioned above, I always follow them because it helps me sleep well and I always feel energized in the morning. Well except the coffee, I plan to cut my coffee intake but right now, I don’t know.  I promise, the benefits of sleeping.. it’s great. Sleeping well is amazing and I’ve experienced a lot of benefits from it. Regarding the coffee, I plan to also quit for awhile to see if it will also boost my sleep. Actually right now, I have this sleep tracking app that record my sleep and I plan to record my sleep both with coffee and without coffee so I can make a better decision. Don’t worry. I will also share my experiences in that in a video but for now. I think I’ll stick with my coffee. or I might drink decaf?

This is a wakeup call to take sleep seriously. Really seriously. The benefits of sleep is better than all the drugs we have right now. In fact, if there is drug that does what sleep does to our body. All of its benefits, it will be the most in demand drug the world. It is your choice. You can just wish and wait to have a drug like that that helps in your memory, health, performance and wellness which might not happen or you can just sleep and have a healthy and happy life. As always, see you in the next video.

 

Jason

Jason Ong is a YouTuber and the one who owns this site. He shares what he learned to people and make videos if necessary. He was a former lecturer. The things he taught are topics related to Clinical Laboratory Science or what others call Medical Technology. Right now, he is also working part-time in an app company as a production supervisor. You can visit his YouTube Channel on https://ongjason.com/youtube

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