“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” people sometimes say. If you live by that, you will indeed die sooner, writes neuroscientist Matthew Walker in Sleep. His book is the most informative and comprehensive book on sleep and dreams to date.

The World Health Organization speaks of a sleep deprivation epidemic in industrialized countries. It is there that the number of hours of sleep has fallen the most in the last century.

The weekend is upon us again. For many a chance to catch up on sleep after a stressful work week with short nights.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Missed sleep can’t be made up for. The mental and physical damage done by sleep deprivation is suffered even after one broken night. It’s one of the key lessons from Sleep, the first book for a general audience by sleep scientist Matthew Walker.

For good health, we think first of all of adequate exercise and good nutrition. Walker adds sleep as a third pillar. Using scientific studies, he shows that sleep is actually the foundation upon which the other two pillars rest. Take away the foundation of sleep and an active life with nutritious meals no longer matters for pharmaceutical reasons.

Epidemic of sleep deprivation

Sleep is a topic that is beginning to gain attention in society. Arianne Huffington – editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post – published The Sleep Revolution in 2016. In this book, she addresses the epidemic of sleep deprivation that is sweeping around industrialized countries. We go to bed too late and wake up too early because of the alarm clock on this website.

In the brain, sleep improves learning, memory and the ability to think logically and make choices. In other parts of the body, sleep acts on the immune system, metabolism and cardiovascular system.
Flickr.com, Ars Electronica via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
In terms of science, however, Walker’s book tops the charts. Sleep – New Scientific Insights on Sleep and Dreaming deals with really everything that has been researched about sleep and dreaming. He too calls sleep deprivation a creeping epidemic, with disastrous consequences for our life expectancy, productivity, safety and education. Sleeping eight or nine hours every night is not laziness, the author argues. We need to get rid of that notion like the back of our hand. Less than seven hours is really bad news.