Summary of Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker PhD - Summareads Media - E-Book

Summary of Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker PhD E-Book

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We humans have a very interesting relationship with sleep. Some people absolutely love to sleep, while others have the attitude that there is plenty of time to sleep after they die. Unlike so many other biological necessities, such as eating and drinking, there is still so much that is unknown about sleeping that it is possible to have such divergent and different viewpoints.

Whatever a person feels about sleep though, sleep is equally as critical to a person's well-being. Yet researchers and medical professionals can’t agree on just what benefits people get from sleeping.

This book takes a look at what little we do know for certain about sleep, and what decades of research suggest sleep does. At first glance, this may not sound interesting, but with so much yet to be learned, sleep is actually a fascinating biological requirement that seems to be affecting every aspect of our lives. There are definitely dry parts to the book – and the author/sleep researcher makes it clear right from the very beginning that he/they would be pleased if the effect of the book is to put you to sleep.

This is in direct contrast to what most authors are trying to do. And there are definitely times where you will find yourself rereading or even passing out because there are some incredibly dry sections in this book. However, the nuggets of surprising facts will wake you up and have you talking about them. If you stick with it, the number of interesting facts pop up increasingly more often over the course of the book.

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Summary of Why We Sleep

Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker PhD

Summareads Media

Contents

Introduction: Notes from the Summareads Team

Part I

Power Principles

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Super Summary

1. This Thing Called Sleep

2. Caffeine, Jet Lag, and Melatonin: Losing and Gaining Control of Your Sleep Rhythm

3. Defining and Generating Sleep

4. Ape Beds, Dinosaurs, and Napping with Half a Brain

5. Changes in Sleep Across the Life Span

6. Your Mother and Shakespeare Knew

7. Too Extreme for the Guinness Book of World Records

8. Cancer, Heart Attacks, and a Shorter Life

9. REM-Sleep Dreaming

10. Dreaming as Overnight Therapy

11. Dream Creativity and Dream Control

12. Things That Go Bump in the Night

13. iPads, Factory Whistles, and Nightcaps

14. Hurting and Helping Your Sleep

15. Sleep and Society

16. A New Vision for Sleeping in The Twenty-First Century

Afterword

Rich Refresh

Copyright 2020 by SummaReads Media - All Rights Reserved

The summary and analysis in this book are meant to be an introduction or companion to your reading experience by providing the key principles and points of an excellent work of non-fiction. This book is not intended as a substitute for the work that it summarizes, and it is not authorized, approved, licensed, or endorsed by the original book’s author or publisher.

This book is geared towards providing accurate and reliable information with regard to the topic covered. The publication is sold with the idea that the publisher is not required to render accounting, officially permitted, or otherwise, qualified services. If advice is necessary, legal or professional, a practiced individual in the profession should be ordered. From a Declaration of Principles that was accepted and approved equally by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations.

In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.

The information provided herein is stated to be truthful and consistent, in that any liability, in terms of inattention or otherwise, by any usage or abuse of any policies, processes, or directions contained within is the solitary and utter responsibility of the recipient reader. Under no circumstances will any legal responsibility or blame be held against the publisher for any reparation, damages, or monetary loss due to the information herein, either directly or indirectly.

Respective authors own all copyrights not held by the publisher.

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Introduction: Notes from the Summareads Team

We humans have a very interesting relationship with sleep. Some people absolutely love to sleep, while others have the attitude that there is plenty of time to sleep after they die. Unlike so many other biological necessities, such as eating and drinking, there is still so much that is unknown about sleeping that it is possible to have such divergent and different viewpoints. Whatever a person feels about sleep though, sleep is equally as critical to a person's well-being. Yet researchers and medical professionals can’t agree on just what benefits people get from sleeping.

This book takes a look at what little we do know for certain about sleep, and what decades of research suggest sleep does. At first glance, this may not sound interesting, but with so much yet to be learned, sleep is actually a fascinating biological requirement that seems to be affecting every aspect of our lives. There are definitely dry parts to the book – and the author/sleep researcher makes it clear right from the very beginning that he/they would be pleased if the effect of the book is to put you to sleep. This is in direct contrast to what most authors are trying to do. And there are definitely times where you will find yourself rereading or even passing out because there are some incredibly dry sections in this book. However, the nuggets of surprising facts will wake you up and have you talking about them. If you stick with it, the number of interesting facts pop up increasingly more often over the course of the book.

However, the primary benefit of reading this book is that you will have a much better understanding of why you need to work to ensure you are getting enough sleep every night. It will probably change the way you work with your children to sleep – and it could very well give you what you need to argue for having a different schedule at work. For example, people who have a later circadian rhythm (Chapter 2) and who are forced to work at the same hours as morning people are less productive. Getting up earlier than your body actually dictates you should can reduce your quality of life; though the book doesn’t say it, other studies have found that it could even be considered a type of torture. It explains why your infant, child, and teen all need to have schedules that work around their bodies' needs, not a schedule that doesn’t always make sense for their needs. It points out that both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who were famous for saying they required only a few hours of sleep a night, both wound up with Alzheimer’s Disease. The correlation between sleep and mental health is still being studied. What is better known is that sleep is tied to how healthy you are. From your appetite to how much energy you have to your memories, sleep dictates most of your waking functions.

The book is worth a read (or a listen as it can put you to sleep, which may be very helpful to you). Many of the problems in first world nations, such as obesity and mental disorders, are linked to the perception that people don’t need much sleep, or that they should work through not getting enough sleep. Instead of taking sleeping medications, you should be reducing or eliminating caffeine from your afternoons and evenings. There is even a good case in the book to stop Daylight Savings Time. Anyone who wants to improve their lives, lose weight, improve memory, reduce risks of health problems (both physical and mental), or simply be happier can benefit from reading this book. And if you get a bit of extra sleep out of it, then you are already practicing putting the book's suggestions to work for you.

Part 1

Power Principles

Chapter 1 provides some context for why the author dedicated so much time and energy to writing up more than 20 years’ worth of sleep studies. It gives a quick overview of what people lose when they give up getting the right amount of sleep every day, such as reduced cognitive abilities, less effective immune systems, and being susceptible to forgetfulness. It gives basic recommendations for sleep, such as the number of hours of sleep that are necessary (8 hours), and mentions that sleep disorders have increased because of the regular reduction in the essential task of sleeping.

Chapter 1

Our schedules, particularly our daily routines, include several things that we do to sabotage our ability to sleep. It also explains how these factors stop us from sleeping. The reason why we are affected by things like caffeine, time changes, and time zone shifts is because of our circadian rhythm, a rhythm that exists in most animals. It explains how every human has a circadian rhythm that determines when they will sleep, then goes into past studies that show that humans have a natural schedule that is about 24 hours and 15 minutes a day, which is close to the 24 hours of the sun’s cycle. People are morning larks, night owls, or something in between, based on their own natural circadian rhythm. Part of this rhythm includes the production of melatonin that lets your body know that it is getting dark, and therefore nearly time for bed. It is more of an alarm; melatonin does not make you sleepy. Your body produces another chemical called adenosine that does make you tired. Adenosine piles up over the course of the day, starting with when you wake up. The more adenosine that has accrued and is sensed by your brain, the more tired you are.

This is why caffeine is so dangerous; it blocks your brain’s ability to register how much adenosine is present. That caffeine crash you experience is what happens when that block is removed and your brain recognizes the high levels of adenosine. Jet Lag is another modern-day problem because of our ability to fly long distances, significantly shifting us into very different sleep schedules. It takes a while to adjust your circadian rhythm, so you will spend a few days with a system that is more similar to where you were before than where you are now; this is known as jet lag. The more we mess with our sleep schedule, whether through caffeine or intentional sleep deprivation to get something done, the more harm we do to ourselves. The author spends a good bit of time at the end of the book strongly urging the reader/listener to set aside 8 hours of sleep a night, and treat it as untouchable. Reducing the amount of sleep you get reduces your ability to do everything else.

Chapter 2

Sleep causes people to lose track of time, yet when you wake up you probably know that you have slept. While your body can actually keep fairly accurate time, when you wake you usually experience confusion about what time it is. This is because you experience time distortion as you sleep, particularly after dreaming. Your brain goes through two primary stages of sleep: REM and NREM. Over 90 minutes you will cycle through both of these, with the first part of the night being heavier on NREM sleep, then increased REM sleep, though why it changes over the period of night is still being studied. NREM is further divided into four phases, with light sleep occurring in the first phase and sleep becoming increasingly deeper until phase four. It is this repeated cycle of different phases that creates the sense of confusion. Each phase has a different level of brain spikes, with REM brain spikes looking very similar to those of a waking brain. NREM stages 1 and 2 are fairly flat, but during phases 3 and 4 your brain has much sharper spikes, indicating greater brain activities. However, it is during REM sleep when your brain functions similar to how you are when awake and that creates the greatest time distortion. Since you are only in REM for a short period of time, you can experience a lot more in less time than when you are awake. This is why when you dream, you feel like you have experienced days, weeks, or years; your brain isn’t actively experiencing waking time, but its own processing. Your body also reacts to sleep. Initially, your muscles begin to relax, but when you reach REM, your brain actually paralyzes all of your muscles that aren’t required to live (your heart, lungs, and other essential muscle movement are unaffected by the paralysis, though they do tend to slow as you sleep).

Chapter 3

All animals experience some form of sleep, or a state that is similar called lethargy. However, all species require a different amount of sleep with no obvious or easy to identify reason for the number of hours needed. The largest living land animal, the elephant, only requires 4 hours of sleep; the small brown bat gets the most sleep at about 19 hours a day. Animals with incredibly different sizes and diets can have very similar sleep requirements; for example, baboons and guinea pigs both require about 9.4 hours of sleep a day. Animals that are genetically similar, such as the two rodents, squirrels and degus, can have very different sleep needs, 16 and 8 hours respectively. Researchers are still trying to determine what drives sleep needs. Only mammals and birds consistently experience REM sleep. This suggests that REM is a more advanced form of sleep that evolved in the later stages of evolution, also suggesting that it is a process required for more advanced organisms. Aquatic mammals and birds also have a unique sleep feature; they are able to sleep with half their brain at a time. Researchers think this is because of their unique situations. Aquatic mammals must still breathe at regular intervals, so they cannot have all of their brain shut down at once. Birds sleep in the trees, which require some degree of awareness to keep from falling out of their nests while sleeping. Humans can experience this situational awareness with a bit less sleep for one side of their brain than the other when they sleep in a place that is unfamiliar. However, you are not able to access half of your brain while the other half is sleeping. Humans do spend more time in REM than any other animal. This could help us to form much more complicated societies and concepts as our brains are able to process and correlate information during REM, something other animals experience in much lower levels.

Chapter 4