Why We Sleep (Matthew Walker) – Review

What if there was one thing that not only makes you fatter, dumber, poorer, sicker, and unhappy, but also increases your chances of developing cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression, and dramatically increases your chances of dying in a fatal car accident? You would probably want to avoid it. And that is possible, as the cause of all this can be too little and poor sleep. Walker has been researching the phenomenon of sleep for more than 20 years and in his book he vividly explains why we should all create more time for sleep in our lives. He manages to share his extensive knowledge in an interesting, simple, and engaging way and gives some great tips for increasing our sleep quality.

Why we should sleep more

Only around a third of adults in western industrialized nations regularly achieve the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. The lack of sleep in our society is so severe that the WHO describes it as an epidemic.

A lack of sleep increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in old age because the proteins that accumulate in the brain and form the plaques typical of Alzheimer’s disease can only be broken down during sleep. A constant lack of sleep can therefore do significant harm. In addition, the emotional state is also strongly influenced negatively.

Walker shows that lack of sleep affects us not only on an individual level. From employee productivity to patient safety in medical facilities and traffic, the impact is dramatic. They run through all of society. Studies show, for example, that young doctors have a 36% higher error rate in medical interventions after a shift of 30 hours without sleep, the chance of misdiagnosis in such a condition is even more than four times as high.

Sleep is essential for information processing. New information is absorbed in the waking state, in sleep it is primarily about reflection and integration of this information. This means, on the one hand, storing and reinforcing this information and, on the other hand, linking and classifying what we have learned in the context of what we already know. This is why sleep is so important for toddlers or when we are learning something new.

That is just a little glimpse into the book. In other chapters, Walker goes into a deeper understanding of sleep, dreams, and practical tips for improving sleep quality.


Sleep is one of the most important and at the same time underestimated aspects of a healthy, long and happy life. We should take more time to get good, adequate sleep to improve our general health and life. After reading this book, I have to say that I was not aware of the extent of too short, restless, or interrupted sleep. I can only recommend it to everyone to read the book in its entirety about the state in which we find ourselves for hours every day and years in our lifetime.

Sleep well!

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