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Why We Sleep

The New Science of Sleep and Dreams
Written by: Matthew Walker
Narrated by: John Sackville
Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (148 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Top Ten Sunday Times Best Seller
TLS, Observer, Sunday Times, FT, Guardian, Daily Mail and Evening Standard Books of the Year 2017

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, read by John Sackville.

Includes a bonus PDF of graphs and diagrams.

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world - Alzheimer's, cancer, obesity, diabetes - has very strong causal links to deficient sleep.

Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why its absence is so damaging to our health. Compared to the other basic drives in life - eating, drinking, and reproducing - the purpose of sleep remained elusive.

Now, in this book, the first of its kind written by a scientific expert, Professor Matthew Walker explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves in to everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence.

©2017 Matthew Walker (P)2017 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Vital... a life-raft." ( Guardian)
"A top sleep scientist argues that sleep is more important for our health than diet or exercise." ( The Times)
"It had a powerful effect on me." ( Observer)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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amazing, lots of information about why to sleep

amazing, lots of information about why one should sleep and how it impacts health, economics, happiness.

2 people found this helpful

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Very informative!

Very interesting and informative book. The narration was also very pleasant. Finally I will stop feeling guilty about sleeping!

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Must read

One may have heard of many self help books but it all doesn't work until the brain has had a good night sleep a day before.
So listen/read this book to know the importance of sleep and how to act upon it.
The most beautiful thing about this book is it's application is so universal that it applies to all Ages(specially babies and Old), social classes, cultures etc..

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very informative

lot of scientific insights shared in this book and also very informative and awesome book

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Enlightening book and engaging narration

The author is a sleep researcher and scientist, with years of experience in this field. His studies throws light on the importance of sleep in our lives, the different sleep stages that we go through each night and what happens in each of them and restorative benefits that each stage has on a variety of cognitive and behavioral aspects in humans.

He takes us through many of the experiments that were designed to study the effects that sleep has on us and other animals. He argues sleep is influenced by many other factors, which again has been proven scientifically by carefully designed experiments.

This book will prod many of us to make lifestyle changes so that we prioritise sleep over everything else for our long term health. While some of these changes might need changes at a societal level, while others can be done at an individual's level.

The narration is engaging and the book definitely enlightening.

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Great narration

Interesting book with valuable insights on importance of sleep. Superb narration by the narrator - Jack Sackville.

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Amazing research. Breaking so many myths.

The take aways will hugely impact health in long run. Need to focus on sleep 😊

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Good info, but too much emphasis

Will gave you good info about how sleep work and help us in every aspect of our physical, mental, emotional, financial health and more.
but i feel apart from the good facts and important sleep is, which could be sum up in one chapter only nothing much for common people, but more for authorise, organizations or investors, that how society should be how work and schools time should be, how light bulbs and electronic devices should be and so on.
but just few point what individual should do to have better slerp for better health.
one thing for sure lots of scary study to blame everything on poor sleep(which can be true but its little complicated to just say that) which can encourage you to pay attention to you sleeping habits to get most of what ever you do.
still good read, will learn something😊

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Sleeping with eyes wide open

Amazing narrative about sleep that I never knew. Being a night owl I have often been given a lazy tag and been compared with people who are morning larks. It is one of the most important books that I have ever experienced and I believe should be made part of biological curriculum in schools to ensure wide spread awareness. Thanks for writing this life changing book.

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Must read for everyone

Great information. Either you sleep enough or not, there is something for everyone. It is life changing experience

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  • Winston Lee
  • 06-03-18

Informative with passionate narrator

I would recommend this book to anybody who is currently sleeping less than 7 hours per night and wants to find a shortcut to improving their life in all aspects. I found the information here enlightening and the evidence compelling.

The narrator is great too, he manages to imitate the various accents and also reads the sentences in a way that very accurately brings across the weight and meaning of the point that Matthew Walker is trying to bring across. I felt like the narrator was the writer himself.

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  • Margarita Marti
  • 01-10-19

One of the best books

Enlightening! Every policy maker must read this book. Many times we skip straight to solutions. This book is all about the why and I believe it is vital that our why is clear. Why we sleep? Explains the importance of sleep, what improves its quality and what doesn't.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Shannon
  • 01-03-20

Really wanted to like it, but...

I first heard Matthew Walker on Joe Rogan's show and found him interesting, which is why I was so disappointed with his book. Filled with stats, figures and countless examples of lab experiments on hapless animals, the material is dry and fails to deliver much in the way of ground breaking information. Driving while sleepy is dangerous? You don't say. People are more moody the day after a restless night? Get out. A long-winded thesis that I struggled to finish while waiting for the light bulb moment that never came.

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  • Tecomarob
  • 01-02-20

Essential reading for a healthy society

John Sackville reads beautifully. Practical sleep ideas backed up with scientific facts. A little repetitive.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-12-19

Important read / listen

Informative and changed the way I think about and prioritize sleep. The narration makes it difficult to complete the book.

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  • Jaco van Niekerk
  • 18-12-19

Life changing

Who writes a book on sleep? Really? That semi-comatose state that "robs" us from life...

I bought this book as I was intrigued by the high rating. I've never had my opinions changed so profoundly. This is a phenomenal book, well written, well naratated with a passion and scientific vigour that I have not experienced in a long time.

I've implemented Walker's recommendations in my life and there is now a stark difference between myself now and the person a few weeks ago. Self-help books requires so much will power and it seldom lasts. This is different... this is not a self-help book, more like a critical chapter in the instruction manual to your brain, health and well-being that you have been missing since birth. The changes it advocates do not require much will to implement either. I have found that my body and mind almost immediately adjust to this new (but correct) way of being. The way it was build and design to function.

If you want to make a radical change in your life, a change for the better, if you want to be more emotionally stable, more alert with more energy, healthier, smarter with superior memory, then read this book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-12-19

Book.of the year

I'm completely Blown Away by this book. I think this is a must for anybody living the human experience.

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  • Osman Badran
  • 05-12-19

Sleeping is a way to thank your body

I never realized how important sleep is to our daily performance. This book is a great tool that helps us learn proper techniques on how to improve and respect our sleep in order to enjoy life.

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  • H. Misser
  • 01-12-19

Superb!

A scientifically informed scientifically informed guide to the importance of sleep, the vital importance of sleep to young minds and the deleterious of inadequate sleep on society as a whole. Very well written and beautifully narrated.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-11-19

Important

It may come across as bit repetitive at times, but the message is a valuable listen worth repeating. He's actually progressing to the same point from many angles and studies and it is presented in a manner that the man on the street can understand.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-01-18

Ground-breaking, so the flaws are forgivable

Potentially life changing, which you cannot say about many books. The science is illuminating and the evidence is extremely persuasive.

It is not without flaws. The futurology and social commentary is less convincing. If you spend much of a book setting out the facts, supported by evidence, in order to build an argument that is not widely understood, you endanger your overall message if you veer off into ideas and opinions. In that regard it also felt padded a little.

The narration is very good, if a little "high and mighty" in its tone.

But pay little attention to these flaws. The core of this book is truly profound, and may cause you to rethink how you live your life.

And if you want an executive summary: Get another 30-60 mins sleep per night. You won't regret it.

89 people found this helpful

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  • R Blades
  • 15-01-18

Is Sleep just for the Weak?

A hearty NO! Matthew’s 20+ years of sleep studying and psychological tests have delivered some of the biggest results for humans in the betterment of themselves, their safety and society. This is a must read(or listen) book for all who are interested in prolonging their life or taking steps so as not to shorten it. John narrates the book wonderfully and really brings the enthusiasm that Matthew Walker pens. From increasing you chance of fighting off the common cold to even improving your chances of surviving cancer “Why We Sleep?” is an insightful and motivating book.

58 people found this helpful

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  • Bonnie
  • 11-08-18

Discouraging for insomniacs

This book is full of fascinating information and studies about every aspect of sleep you can imagine from animals to humans at every stage of their lives. As someone who has suffered with poor sleep for years, I was keen to hear some ideas about how I can improve my sleep. A few things about this book really annoyed me though. The main thing was that throughout the book it is implied that reduced sleep is a 'lifestyle choice' for people who do not priortise it. This may be the case for some people but I am desperate for more sleep. It is also depressing to hear in detail how much irreparable damage my poor sleep has done to me over the years - it sounds like a terminal illness! Finally, it makes it sound like insomnia is easily treated by CBTi. I have not found this to be the case. It's going to be even harder for me to reduce my anxiety and challenge my negative thoughts about poor sleep having read this book. Having said that I will forget all about it soon anyway as poor memory is a major feature of poor sleep.

127 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-01-18

Facinating and useful

Sorting out my sleep patterns has been my main New Years resolution as I have come to the conclusion that most other things in my life will improve greatly once this is achieved.
But I hadn't realised the vast catalogue of problems sleep deprivation is causing in the developed world. And that almost all of us will be suffering from it to some degree.
This book is both very interesting in explaining the mechanism of sleep, and everything in our modern lives that have an influence on the quality of our sleep.
Concluding with a comprehensive list of everything we can do to free ourselves from the misery of tiredness and under performance in the day and sleeplessness at night.
I'm going to listen again. And this time I'm taking notes.

40 people found this helpful

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  • irmish
  • 18-04-18

Very interesting and possibly life changing book

Would you listen to Why We Sleep again? Why?

The deep and calm voice of the narrator makes this audiobook a pleasure to listen to. I will certainly re-listen to 'Why We Sleep' because it offers plenty of interesting information on the importance of sleep and it's packed with tips on how to make your sleep healthier; to make a full use of the knowledge the book offers, I need to listen to certain chapters again and take some notes.

Any additional comments?

The book is potentially life changing, especially if you happen to suffer from sleep deprivation and/or ill health potentially caused by it. It makes a very strong case for prioritising good sleep and it motivated me to care for myself and my family better. Of particular interest to me were the author's discussions of children's sleep, it's potential connection to ADHD and dangers of sleep deprivation in youngsters. I became a much more sleep-conscious parent as a result. I highly recommend this audiobook!

14 people found this helpful

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  • Simon Johnson
  • 11-02-18

A life-changing book

Would you consider the audio edition of Why We Sleep to be better than the print version?

The narrator does an excellent job stressing the key phrased and pacing the narration in such a way that I believe I take away more information that I would have if I had read the book myself.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Of course everyone 'knows' that a good night's sleep is important, but my god the author brings together such a body of evidence that I'm left in no doubt of the benefits of 8 hours of natural sleep. You will never take sleep for granted again. I'm convinced that this book will save lives and the health of many people.

What about John Sackville’s performance did you like?

Well paced and a great voice.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It's more of an intellectual and scientific book, but the importance that sleep plays in our life comes across in a profound way.

Any additional comments?

The author encourages the reader to read/listen to the chapters in the order that appeals to them.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. B. Lynch
  • 08-03-19

Woke me up

Really well-considered work. Helped me to start to monitor my sleep pattern and working to obey first law, get to bed and up about same time every night and morning. Have struggled with diabetes and obesity for years. Now sleeping better and making good progress.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mr L.
  • 14-10-18

Absolutely interesting!!!

One of the best audio books I've ever listened to. Everybody sleeps and therefore everybody would find this interesting - I did! Wish I could have had a chat with the author afterwards. Will send a copy of this book to my children's school about start times. Thank you

5 people found this helpful

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  • CM
  • 16-04-18

Superb

Any additional comments?

This book has completely changed my attitude to sleep - it presents a number of fascinating facts and new research into the science of sleep and debunks many myths associated with sleep. I was particularly alarmed by the facts associated with sleep and alcohol.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ben
  • 08-03-18

The most fascinating book I have read in 20 years

Would you listen to Why We Sleep again? Why?

Yes, and I am already (immediately after finishing it). The subject has changed my life and I want to ensure I took it all in first time!

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I cannot pick one chapter. They are all exceptional. The beauty of the writing is that you can dip in and out of chapters and read them in any order and they still make perfect sense. Fantastic!

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Sleep: Evolutionary Elixir (SEE for short!)

Any additional comments?

This book has already changed my life and continues to do so. It is no exaggeration to say it is the best book i have ever read/listened to. I am lucky in that I do not particularly suffer from sleep problems but, either way, the book is fascinating, interesting and informative. I could not recommend this book more highly.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Paul Kuhnast
  • 15-03-18

amazing book. loved it. so mush fresh information.

easy too get through. great narrator. easy to digest information. I really didn't think I could learn so much about sleep. literally changed me while listeniing to it.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-01-18

If you value your own health, listen to this book.

I was hesitant to purchase this book, as it wasn't something I would normally listen to. However, listening to this book has been one of the most important things i have ever spent my time doing. This book covers the recent and incredibly salient break throughs in the understanding of sleep and the consequences of its neglect. If you value your health/life expectancy or the health of those you care about you must listen to this. My prior attitude towards sleep was reckless. As a student studying maths and physics I regularly sacrificed sleep to complete assignments and other tasks, and in hind sight it's clear how deleterious that behaviour is. Every human should hear this, so their attitude towards sleep recognises/matches its true importance.

Also, fantastically well articulated concepts, by the author, and supurb reading by the reader. (only a few pronunciation mistakes throughout the entire book (impressive!))

29 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-07-18

Awaken to sleep

Sleep scientist Matthew Walker lays out nothing short of an all out crusade about the importance of sleep in this well composed work, of which the chapters contained can easily be navigated in any order to what area of sleep knowledge the reader is looking to know as suggested by the author in the prologue.
The book does revolve largely around the affects of sleep or lack of on the brain and its different components most affected the frontal cortex, hippocampus, hypothalamus etc.
Also mentioned numerously throughout are the sleep cycles particularly REM & NREM, and the studies conducted to research the effects of the type of sleep people get, not all sleep is equal as he points out.
Everything else from sleeping conditions of which the are over 100 documented types, to the negative effects on every part of the body that poor sleep can cause, believed by Matthew to be of greater seriousness than poor diet or exercise but gets around 1% the attention of these other societal affecting crises of the modern age.
Put short I was highly engaged through most of the book, I'm sure it could be updated in the future with the amount of research being conducted into this developing field, Matthew does his best to dissuade readers from the many sleep aid developed drugs available on the market, to add the sleep aid market which is worth around 30billion dollars annually in the US shows the severity of the problem at hand, he rather lists quite well alternative ways to manage a good 8hrs shut eye into every 24hr period.
The narrator can come across sometimes as nothing short of a sleep nazi, though I believe anyone unconvinced of the bennifits of a good sleep to purchase a sleep tracking smartwatch of which this reader recently obtained and notice the affects on the body particularly the cardiovascular data recorded and you will soon learn to manage the sleep you get in a very different way, the parts in the book on dreaming are also a favourite of mine.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-09-18

A must read for absolutley for everyone now!

I believe this will change everyone's lives for the better. it's easy to listen to and relatively easy to make changes for positive outcomes in all aspects of our personal lives. some messages we already knew and now here's scientific evidence supporting them. May authorities who have power to implement changes that can affect many, read this and act quickly.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-02-19

goodnight everyone.

a real eye shutter! The knowledge of sleep is sound and should never be interrupted by modernity. The path to good sleep is worth the travel. Everyone should read this book. I now seek 8 hours every night with the evidence uncovered in this must read .👁🙏

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-02-18

Amazing book

This book is absolutely fascinating, I always knew sleep was important but until I listened to this I never appreciated how vital it is to every part of our life. I wish Matthew’s recommendations to society were followed in their entirety, what a huge difference it would make to our lives and the lives of our children. I for one will implement as many of his recommendations as I can and for the rest of my life I will prioritize sleep in my life!! Thanks so much for writing this book Matthew!

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  • Rodney Wetherell
  • 30-06-18

Brilliant account of the science of sleep study

I have never read a book about sleep, though wanted to since I am a poor sleeper. I knew many of the basic problems affecting sleep, but had no idea of the vast amount of information and scientific study devoted to the subject. I feel far better informed now, and know where to turn for more information. In some ways this is a depressing study, since as with weight-loss programs, several favourite activities of mine are best avoided in the interest of better sleep. Matthew Walker presents sleep loss as a major social problem needing to be addressed by governments and big companies - it will take years for all this to happen, but I believe things can improve if we all want it to,

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  • Philip
  • 04-06-19

A must for doctors and insomniacs

Not sure I enjoyed the narrator as he sounded more media than academic but the content was seriously enlightening. I wonder if a a few critiques of this book might have helped the context although one hopes such an eminent academic would have got the balance right. At times the narrator overstressed matters a little more than I think the author might have intended. I felt the medication section was a little deficient as this was my main interest. Nevertheless, a huge task summarising a lifetime of study and what a huge subject! Hopefully Matthew Walker will revise over time as new research emerges. Unusually, I may reread this more than a few times and will download the book for my reference (as an academic reader in a related discipline hopefully this might offer a few references).

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-09-18

Amazing. Made me rethink sleep and prioritise it

This book was shocking and amazing. Please listen. It will make you rethink how essential slepp is.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-06-18

Excellent

Well constructed evidence based book. Informative and engaging read after which you will have a new found appreciation for sleep. This book will help everybody and is especially a must read for health professionals with interests in primary healthcare and the bio social approach to disease management.

1 person found this helpful