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Book Club

Why We Sleep: A Review

21 December 2018

“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day — Mother Nature’s best effort yet at contra-death."

Penned by neuroscientist Matthew Walker, this parable on the importance of sleep ironically kept us up at night reading it. We simply could not put it down for all the insightful facts and figures supporting a healthier approach to getting the right amount of shut-eye that we often over look or deny ourselves in our active, modern lives. It turns out that suboptimal sleep time can be detrimental to our overall health, damaging to our DNA, and leave us with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. However, we learnt that achieving the deeper REM sleep can outweigh these pitfalls and really boost our bodies natural defences and immune system, giving it the best chance to recharge. Walker outlines the book with this tantalising synopsis:

“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?”

We discussed:-
– Utilising technology to achieve the best sleep possible. To our surprise, technology doesn’t always have to be detrimental to our sleep cycles. For example using Lumie alarm clocks to allow our bodies a natural morning rise with sunlight-mimicking technology instead of a loud and abrupt ringing from our phones. Using tinted glasses or night-mode (for laptops too) in the evening to neutralise harmful blue light from our mobile devices, tablets and TV’s to give our retinas a pre-bedtime rest. This seemed to be significant in artificially altering our bodies melatonin levels, keeping our minds whirring into the night. Other clever recommendations we made included moving electrical devices away from our bed/bedsides to lessen the chances of EMF exposure.

– Tips to help us truly wind down and induce deep sleep quicker and more effectively. We loved the idea of journalling as a therapeutic tool to offload the days thoughts or a simple way to list things you were grateful for that day to clear the headspace. Taking a warm tech-free bath with low-level lighting or candles to relax muscles and invite more conscious breathing.

– How we often sacrifice the right amount of sleep to make work commitments, stay out partying or even binging a new Netflix series into the small hours because we aren’t making sleep our priority. We all could easily admit to doing some of these things and begin to reassess where oversight in this case was affecting us especially in the working week, the morning after such events occur.

– Our varying circadian rhythms, how they affect our moods, and ability to sleep. Walker cements that we collectively fall into two different sleep groups or more scientifically, “chronotypes”: morning larks and night owls. We discussed the limitations of being naturally aligned with one or the other but also the simple awareness of this and how planning our sleeping hours can potentially offset these engrained tendencies.

Overall, we unanimously decided this read is one that provided almost necessary insight into sleep patterns and some solid practical tips that are both reasonable and accessible. An overall enjoyable read, providing deep insight without being too weighty with inaccessible science. Bringing to a close with these aforementioned tips and the benefits of accomplishing good quality sleep inspired us all to go straight home and hit the hay as soon as possible… and we never slept better. Kidding, but our relationship with sleep has changed indefinitely.

Written by Oliver Lamoury | Keep Content Creator

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