Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (Book Review)


Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker


Purchase from Amazon UK



‘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

‘I urge you all to read this book’ Times Higher Education

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.


My Review

Sleep has always been a subject that fascinates me and I was eager to learn more from this comprehensive study written by  Professor of Science, Matthew Walker. I have always wondered why we all need different amounts of sleep and why some people fall asleep easily, but for others, it can be a huge problem.

The book covers a myriad of subjects involving jet lag, the effects of caffeine and alcohol, dreaming, the use of sleeping pills… to name but a few. The overriding message was however, that lack of sleep can have horrific consequences by linking to Alzheimers, Cancer and Diabetes etc

I read the ebook version of the book but I will buy the paperback for easier reference. The information was fascinating to read but it would be easier with more subcategories. It’s not the type of book to read in one sitting and I found it was repetitive in parts.

My other problem with the book was that from the perspective of an insomniac it was quite disturbing because it emphasises how important sleep is to our health and wellbeing. If insomnia is triggered by anxiety, I would be tempted to give this book a miss because it could make the problem worse. In fairness, there is plenty of advice to help insomniacs in the book.

I think this is a book that I will refer back to on a regular basis, in fact, it will be placed on my bedside table as a reminder of how important sleep is. I admired Professor Matthew’s passion for this subject and wish him well getting the message across.

Thank you, NetGalley for a review copy which I have reviewed honestly.


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