Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, ... doubling your risk of cancer.... Inadequate sleep -- even moderate reduction for just one week -- disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic ... increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path toward cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure. ... (and) contributes to all major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality." -- WHY WE SLEEP, by Matthew Walker, Ph.D.
So begins Dr. Walker's excellent resource book on sleep. It has kept me up at nights.
I find his writing very accessible and packed with interesting information, some old and some new. He addresses a wide range of questions about sleep: the effects of caffeine, jet lag, melatonin, how much to sleep, changes in sleep across our lifespans, how sleep keeps your brain healthy, the nasty effects of sleep deprivation on brain and body, stages of sleep, dreams, various sleep disorders, stimulation that prevents good sleep (screen viewing, noise, alcohol, etc), the problems with some medical sleep "aids" vs therapy, and what Google and NASA do to promote good sleep that works.
Dr. Walker, Director of UC Berkeley's Center for Human Sleep Science, provides many tips for getting better sleep, enough sleep. He fills this volume with small captivating tidbits on the effects of both good and poor sleep that make you take notice: e.g., sleep profoundly affects your response to a standard flu vaccine -- good sleep prior to receiving a vaccine means you mount the powerful antibody response of a strong immune system; sleep restriction before vaccine means a paltry response -- the vaccine essentially does not provide protection. Even then getting 2-3 weeks of good recovery sleep doesn't mean a good immune response!
Do you know the optimal room temp for best sleep? What affects this? Why does it matter? Want to stave off neurodegenerative diseases? Does sleep fragment more as we age? Why? Can we shift this? All of these are questions addressed in this volume, citing many scientific studies and a wide range of authors.
I recommend this book as a great place to start learning about how to live a better life when awake through living a better life asleep.
About The Author
I am a lifelong learner who has undergrad math, physics, and psychology degrees, a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from U of M. I have spent the last decade learning about nutrition, sleep, inflammation, exercise physiology, neurofeedback, psychological assessment, and Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy.