Book Review : Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (Penguin Books)
TLDR : In depth treatment of Sleep, its reasons, its types and its impact on individual and society lucidly explained : 5/5
As a person who has suffered from sleep related problems for a decade and been on all variety of sleeping pills (quietapine, alprozolam, ambien) , this book is probably very pertinent to me in more ways than one although it tackles a much wider swathe of issues related to sleep.
The book first talks about technical aspects of sleep physiology like circadian rhythm, suprachiasmatic nucleus, melatonin, adenosine, polyphasic sleep, hypothalamus and thalamus which operate on sleep in disconnected pathways. It talks about the effect of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol on sleep. The book then delves deeply into the type of sleep like REM and NREM and the role of sleep spindles. Further, it highlights the different types of sleep in babies, adolescents, young adults and old people which is very interesting. The chapter on sleep across different animals is an eyeopener. The most interesting explanation of NREM sleep to solidify experiences and REM sleep to enhance problem solving and creativity via dreaming is very motivating. A surprising thing is that some people called lucid dreamers have been scientifically proven to control their dreams. All his claims are linked to fabulous research studies which make you wonder about the creativity of researchers. The chapter on the scientific basis of dreaming and emotional tuning via dreams is contrasted with the unscientific Freudian perspective.
Further chapters in book link sleep deprivation to cancer, immune diseases, testosterone and testes length reduction (take note!) as well as psychiatric problems. He busts myth that people can "sleep off" their sleep debt and that once you lose sleep it can affect you for a long time.
One chapter then deals with sleep disorders like insomina, narcolepsy and sleep apnea and the reasons for the same. Further chapters also deal with electronics, bad work policies, night lighting, room temperature control and sadistic alarm clock designs that add to sleep deprivation woes. A chapter then talks about making schools start late in the day so that children can sleep properly and boost their health and IQ as well as more sleep time for Government and Medical professionals. An important chapter advises against sleep pills and recommends CBT-i (recommended by USAs National Sleep Association). I downloaded an Android App immediately.
One shocking statistic is about the amount of lives lost due to sleep deprived driving (more than even drunken driving) and the author asks for policies to combat the same.
The last chapter talks about ideas in individual, educational, technological and social planes for a new vision of sleep.
I assure you if you read the book you WILL sleep 8-9 hours a day and will be disabused of all the myths you have