Summary of "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Part 1 This Thing Called Sleep
Chapter 1 To Sleep
Chapter 2 Caffeine, Jet Lag, and Melatonin: Losing and Gaining Control of Your Sleep Rhythm
Chapter 3 Defining and Generating Sleep: Time Dilation and What We Learned from a Baby in 1952
Chapter 4 Ape Beds, Dinosaurs, and Napping with Half a Brain: Who Sleeps, How Do We Sleep, and How Much?
Chapter 5 Changes in Sleep Across the Life Span
Part 2 Why Should You Sleep?
Chapter 6 Your Mother and Shakespeare Knew: The Benefits of Sleep for the Brain
Chapter 7 Too Extreme for the Guinness Book of World Records: Sleep Deprivation and the Brain
This chapter concerns neurological benefits of sleeping (and issues arising from sleep deprivation)
Chapter 8 Cancer, Heart Attacks, and a Shorter Life: Sleep Deprivation and the Body
Part 3 How and Why We Dream
Chapter 9 Routinely Psychotic: REM-Sleep Dreaming
Chapter 10 Dreaming as Overnight Therapy
Chapter 11 Dream Creativity and Dream Control
Part 4 From Sleeping Pills to Society Transformed
Chapter 12 Things That Go Bump in the Night: Sleep Disorders and Death Caused by No Sleep
Chapter 13 iPads, Factory Whistles, and Nightcaps: What's Stopping You from Sleeping?
Chapter 14 Hurting and Helping Your Sleep: Pills vs. Therapy
Chapter 15 Sleep and Society: What Medicine and Education Are Doing Wrong; What Google and NASA Are Doing Right
Chapter 16 A New Vision for Sleep in the Twenty-First Century
Conclusion: To Sleep or Not to Sleep
Appendix: Twelve Tips for Healthy Sleep
For me, this was the book I got the most out of in 2018.
Criticisms of "Why We Sleep"
There was a rather hard-hitting criticism of the book, by Alexey Guzey:
...and a later response to criticisms from Dr Walker here:
Personally I don't think those initial criticisms do nearly as much as Alexey thinks they do to destroy the entire validity of the work. They're more like editor's notes, fixing a bug here and there. I'll continue to take the work of a professional sleep researcher over an amateur like Alexey who writes:
I've been experimenting with sleep for the last month and I converged on a formula of sleeping 4-5 hours per night and then doing as many 20-30 minute naps as I need during the day (1-2 usually).
I hope to write the synthesis of everything I know about healthy and efficient sleep habits in the future.
I'll be looking forward to that.
It is important to know that "Why We Sleep" is not a guide to helping you get better sleep. It gives you so much information about sleep that it can create or exacerbate anxiety, particularly for people who already have sleep-related problems. This is a major issue and thankfully Dr Walker will be putting a note to that effect on the next edition.