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  • Writer's pictureNishant Mittal

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker: Book review by Nishant Mittal

This was my first book of 2022. I've forever been fascinated by sleep and wanted to learn about its inner workings. As far as I can remember, I've always been a night owl with a typically fragile sleeping pattern. I thought through this book, I'll find some hacks around sleep and be able to live a better life.

My interest went even further as just a few months ago, I was trying to build a product which aimed to help people with sleep. Manufacturing of it turned out to be expensive so I couldn't move forward, but the science (and the prototype) worked. Leaving it on the side for a while, I came across this book and thought, "More reading material! Nice!". And so I picked it up.

I was wrong, though. This book isn't about how you could work your way around sleep, it's about 'why sleep is important'. There's a big difference. The former is an interesting premise which could lead to something useful, while the latter is just a collection of mostly useless information. Everyone knows 'why sleep is important', I think. Most people begin to feel groggy after a few days of less sleep (unless they're gifted). Do they need a book on why they should sleep more? I would never understand why a person would keep harping on about the importance of sleep, but that's what the writer did here for over 300 fat pages. He just kept hard-selling sleep, which felt weird considering I'm a guy who's already struggling with it. Hah! What a disaster.

Also, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The writer is a "sleep scientist", so his solution to every problem is more sleep. My feeling fatigued could have something to do with epic boredom, some kind of Vitamin B12, C or D deficiency, or something else entirely. It might not have anything to do with sleep. But the writer simply fails to touch those possibilities. I remember I used to sleep twice as much as I normally do during exam days (I used to be extremely bored). But I'm sure if I had consulted Mr. Walker during those days, he would have prescribed me even more sleep. It's funny.

While the book is essentially quite useless, it does have some fascinating insights about sleep. The book isn't just confined to the study of humans, it also contains some extraordinary revelations about sleeping patterns of birds, aquatic animals and many other species. Did you know the brown Bat sleeps for 19 hours a day? I didn't either. But thanks to this book (and my review of it), now we both do. The book is filled to the brim with such fascinating tidbits, which might interest a lot of people. The research is without doubt extremely deep and extensive. Kudos to Mr. Walker for such hard work! Unfortunately, this wasn't what I was looking for.

P.S. You just read an honest (and hopefully valuable) article for free. If you like reading my writing, subscribe to the mailing list and also consider making donations. Amounts don't matter, gestures do.

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