For doctors, scientists, and you and me, sleep’s always been a mysterious phenomenon. We humans (preferably) sleep one-third of our whole life, and this is an enormous amount of time that demands some attention. Though historically, we’re not giving sleep the recognition it deserves, academically or culturally.

Whether you enjoy getting 8 hours of sleep or dread going to bed, this book “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker is a bit of an eye-opener. We should ask ourselves, “Why, though, do we still need to get a good night’s sleep to get a long list of physical, emotional, mental benefits even though the amount of time spent throughout our lives is enormous? It’s a question that has puzzled many, and Matthew Walker has dedicated a significant amount of time to understand the mechanisms and reasons behind sleep.

Sleep is more important than we ever thought! If we fail to get the necessary sleep (deliberately or otherwise), we’re gambling with our life in the long term. The adverse effects can add up fast if we’re consistently cutting our zzz’s short.

The old mantras such as “Six hours of sleep is plenty” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” or “So-and-so only sleeps 4 hours a day and is just fine.” etc.

Why We Sleep book cover

The moral of this book is “Don’t mess with Sleep!”

Some noteworthy takeaways from the text:

● Not only is the starting phase of sleep critical, but when you’re going to wake up in the morning is equally significant. Waking up earlier without hitting your body/brain’s sleep requirement will have consequences.

● Melatonin reminds your brain, “Time to get some rest.” Its purpose is not to put you to sleep. It plays a role in the timekeeping system of your brain. Adenosine is the chemical that makes you feel sleepy.

● Dreaming makes you more imaginative/sharp. Dreaming is not just some “screensaver” that takes place for hours on end without any benefit; it severely influences your mindset/thinking/self-worth and many more functions.

● Humans are inclined to rest two times a day. Who knew taking a siesta was so ingrained in us. Napping after lunch is human, nothing wrong in doing so. Just don’t make the nap too long, or it can affect your sleep at night.

● Practice doesn’t make perfect. There’s an often-missed link in that strategy, and it’s sleep. Practice, followed by a restful night of sleep, is a requirement for perfection to happen.

● The long-held belief that you can make up for rest lost by “sleeping in” is wrong. You can’t make up for the zzzs you’ve lost, unfortunately.

● We have a genetic preference on whether we’re a night person or a morning person. Shaming of “night-owls” needs to stop since it’s a genuine genetic disposition.

● Caffeine is used and abused regularly by nearly everyone, kids and adults alike. It’s a “drug” that affects sleep depending on ingestion time. Just because you don’t “feel” its effects doesn’t mean it’s not affecting you internally. It does have a rather significant impact on many people’s sleep quality.

● So much more.