Book review: Why We Sleep

In this post I want to share with you my insights from the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. I was put onto this book by a friend after a long discussion about our sleep schedule, or rather, my lack of one. Try as I might I have never been able to lock down a sleep schedule, something I have discussed in previous posts. So I thought I would dive into the science of sleep to see what damage I was doing to my body given my lack of sleep schedule and very small hours of sleep.

One of the most interesting quotes from this book is:

“First, after waking up in the morning, could you fall back asleep at ten or eleven a.m? If the answer is “yes”, you are likely not getting sufficient sleep quantity and/or quality. Second, can you function optimally without caffeine before noon? If the answer is “no”, then you are most likely self-medicating your state of chronic sleep deprivation.”

Page 35

I think the first thing to do in determining a sleep schedule is to set a baseline to determine your current routine and current sleep quality. The difficulty I have with this test is that I usually drink tea or coffee in the morning, not because I need to, but because I have gotten into a routine of having a morning coffee before taking on the day. If I truly want to determine the quality of my sleep I think I need to run an experiment (yay science) and ditch caffeine for a few weeks until the results are in.

The other thing Matthew stresses in this book is the importance of 8 hours, yes 8 hours of sleep. He mentions that he always gets 8 hours of sleep, no excuses. I knew that 8 hours is the optimal number of hours for adults but through my own experimentation have found that my sweet spot is more like 6.5 hours (or maybe that is what I am used to so have made it my sweet spot). I use the app “Sleep Cycle” and in that they recommend playing around with the hours you sleep to find your sweet spot. I think I will strive to run a more scientific experiment to find my ideal spot rather than guessing based on what I have learnt.

Anyway, this is a very short post as I have lots of other work to do which is a greater priority and those were the two main things I took out of the book. If you are interested in sleep then I would recommend this book but it does drag on and goes into a lot of detail so if you are just looking for advice then maybe give it a skim?

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