Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep is a very good read. He writes beautifully and with well-argued clarity.
Prof Walker gives very compelling evidence that sleep is not an optional human behaviour – that if we want to live well and live long, then ensuring a good night’s sleep (every night and without drugs) will make that more possible.
Sleep disturbances appear in many diseases. Psychiatric conditions are marked by abnormal sleep, and it has long been thought that psychiatric diseases caused these sleep problems. Similarly neurodegenerative conditions are marked by sleep problems, and it has been only relatively recently recognised that sleep disturbances can appear long before other symptoms (especially Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases).
So what comes first – the sleep problem or the psychiatric or neurodegenerative condition? Prof Walker thinks that it is a whole lot more complex than a chicken and egg question. Whatever the answer, sleep is a serious business and without our daily dose we don’t function well and we don’t live long.
Transcranial red and near infrared lights improve sleep. We’ve seen this in people with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, but also in people with clinical depression. We’ve seen sleep improvements in people who have no illness or disorder and who use the Cossack or Coronet on a daily basis.
If there is a very tired someone in your life who thinks that sleeping is a waste of time, then this book will be a life-enhancing gift.
Thanks to Cris Saur on Unsplash for the gorgeous photo of the somnolent koala bear.