“Every major system, tissue, and organ of your body suffers when sleep becomes short. No aspect of your health can retreat at the sign of sleep loss and escape unharmed.”
In our hustle-and-bustle society, it has become the norm — nay, it has become a virtue — to be a workaholic. Productivity has become practically a deity, and many of us (ahem, guilty as charged) have spent countless hours reading books and blogs about how to maximize the usefulness of every waking moment of our day. Sleep, as a consequence, has become almost an annoying stray animal we have to occasionally feed but only do it grudgingly. I bet it wasn’t very long ago you’ve even engaged in a Battle of the Busyness, brag-complaining to each other about how busy you are, and someone boasts with pride, “I’ve only been sleeping five hours a night!” Somehow, sleep has turned into something that must be overcome.
Why We Sleep is an incredibly eye-opening and frankly sobering book that challenges these notions to their core. Matthew Walker pulls together decades of research about sleep and compiles them into an endlessly fascinating scripture on why sleep is possibly the most important factor in a healthy and happy life. Sleep affects literally every aspect of your body and mind, from memory to blood pressure to preventing cancer. Even small amounts of sleep loss like an hour or two less than recommended can have dramatic effects on your well being. And the scariest part is, most of these effects are invisible to us. Walker cites study after study showing that we can feel perfectly normal and believe our reaction times are fine, yet our true reaction times are closer to that of a drunk person!
My entire copy is filled with fascinating factoids that I hope to carry with me always, so I remember that no matter what’s going on in life, sleep should come first. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure I’ll be a hit at parties and on trivia nights.
If there’s one takeaway from Why We Sleep, it’s that sleep is truly core to the functioning of our entire bodies, minds, and lives. Even if we deeply value our work, even if we have many roles to play and people to take care of, sleep should be a non-negotiable. You will be more effective at taking care of others if you take care of your sleep first. And you’ll live a longer and happier life because of it.
Interested in purchasing this book? Find it here.
Read the ABL book pick for August, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Written by Galia Aharoni Schmidt