Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
Growth by Vaclav Smil
Prepared by Diane Tavenner
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
'Why We Sleep' has changed my sleeping habits for the better and I wish everyone had the chance to read it. It's like a manual explaining how your body works 1/3 of the time you're alive.
Starting an hour layer improves SAT scores:
One of the first
test cases happened in the township of Edina, Minnesota. Here, school start times for teenagers
were shifted from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. More striking than the forty-three minutes of extra sleep
that these teens reported getting was the change in academic performance, indexed using a
standardized measure called the Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT.
In the year before this time change, the average verbal SAT scores of the top-performing
students was a very respectable 605. The following year, after switching to an 8:30 a.m. start time,
that score rose to an average 761 for the same top-tier bracket of students. Math SAT scores also
improved, increasing from an average of 683 in the year prior to the time change, to 739 in the
year after. Add this all up, and you see that investing in delaying school start times—allowing
students more sleep and better alignment with their unchangeable biological rhythms—returned
a net SAT profit of 212 points. That improvement will change which tier of university those
teenagers go to, potentially altering their subsequent life trajectories as a consequence.
(This is one example, that has been replicated many times, he covers more in the book.)
It saves even saves lives:
Yet something even more profound has happened in this ongoing story of later school start
times—something that researchers did not anticipate: the life expectancy of students increased. The leading cause of death among teenagers is road traffic accidents, and in this regard, even
the slightest dose of insufficient sleep can have marked consequences, as we have discussed.
When the Mahtomedi School District of Minnesota pushed their school start time from 7:30 to
8:00 a.m., there was a 60 percent reduction in traffic accidents in drivers sixteen to eighteen years
of age. Teton County in Wyoming enacted an even more dramatic change in school start time,
shifting from a 7:35 a.m. bell to a far more biologically reasonable one of 8:55 a.m. The result was
astonishing—a 70 percent reduction in traffic accidents in sixteen- to eighteen-year-old drivers.
To place that in context, the advent of anti-lock brake technology (ABS)—which prevents the
wheels of a car from seizing up under hard braking, allowing the driver to still maneuver the
vehicle—reduced accident rates by around 20 to 25 percent. It was deemed a revolution. Here is a
simple biological factor—sufficient sleep—that will drop accident rates by more than double that
amount in our teens.
There's more reasons, like improving attendance and decreasing drug/alcohol use, but these are the ones that stuck out to me. There was another statistic that I can't immediately find a quotation for that was pretty mind-blowing for me, which was that in university, the difference in performance in controls and students who started class an hour later was equivalent to the difference between controls and students who had a professor a standard deviation above the average. They even showed that this was dose dependent (an extra hour later had more effect). I think it's pretty incredible, considering the skill gap between an average professor and a great one, that simply taking a class at a 10am instead of 8am can increase learning so much.
I’m all for the hedonistic rationalization for alcohol. We all need a release. But it is disingenuous to say alcohol has any positive effects beyond that. It is no different than sugar in that regard. My Saturday night cheat meal is filled with both, and I always look forward to it. But I don’t try and pretend that it’s in any way good for me (beyond psychological).
To that end, I completly agree with you that there are plenty of people who enjoy a few drinks without any real damage. I'm saying classify alchohol for what it it. The tobacco and sugar (4,5) lobbies love to pretend that they are something which they are not to sway public opinion. That is dangerous to society.
According to my experience, a good night of sleep is the best cure for procrastination, sadly, our current society don't optimize for sleeping well.
I've ALWAYS considered myself a night owl. I'm still not sure I'm not. But I've spent the past year rising earlier than I'm used to, and the past 7 months rising even earlier than that due to an enforced carpool with my wife. For the first time in my working life, I HAVE to be awake at a certain time (incidentally, far earlier than I'm used to). Instead of snoozing for an hour, I bolt from bed far earlier than I want to. I go to sleep marginally earlier. But my routine is regular I'm happier. I feel better. I feel healthier. I started reading the book and am acutely interested in tuning my sleep times to make this work even better.
Maybe I've never been a night owl. Maybe I've just had horrible sleep habits. Or maybe I AM a night owl, and I'd be even better off than I can possibly imagine, if I take all of these habits and processes and move them later in the day.
But I just feel like you can't possibly know if you're a morning bird or a night owl until you're already, consistently, religiously, getting enough sleep every night, on a consistent sleep/wake schedule.
Not just about an utterly fascinating topic (psychadelic drugs), in terms of history (LSD turning from a scientific wonder drug to illegal), his personal experiences, and the neuroscience behind it, but also just extremely well-written -- a real page-turner. A crazy potent combination of science, spirituality (from a skeptic), and narrative. I expect his book will be a significant part of why psychadelic drugs will be legalized in the near future specifically for therapeutic purposes.
Also +1 for 2017's Why We Sleep . After reading it, I couldn't believe how shockingly ignorant I'd been of how I spend a full third of my life, and how much it affects the other two-thirds -- and the degree to which a lack of sleep prevents us from perceiving the effects of lack of sleep, in a kind of vicious cycle.
- Effect of coffee on sleep: I didn't particularly have problems with sleep but I have stopped drinking way too much coffee, specially late in the day, after understanding its effect on sleep suppression and the ill effects that causes.
- Importance of sleep: I try and get enough sleep and try to maintain a steady sleep cycle as much as I can.
- 2 hours of lost sleep is lot more than 2 hours of lost sleep(say by waking up early for a meeting): Sleep comprises of multiple REM and NREM cycles through the night, some cycles are heavier on REM while other heavier on NREM. And, both are very important and serve different functions. If you miss a couple of hours of sleep, its effect is lot more than just a couple of hours of lost sleep because you didn't get enough of either REM or NREM sleep. And, its not something you ever can get back.
- I used to think its something to be proud about, to be able to function without sleep or by skipping sleep etc. (specially when I was younger), now I think its just stupid :)
Apart from these, its a fascinatingly interesting read, I definitely recommend the book.
I've mentioned the book on several other threads , so I'll avoid repeating here.
Along the same lines of expanding the ability of your body/mind, one that I'm currently reading is "What doesn't kill us" . Pretty fascinating to think that we have a lot more control over our immune system than originally thought.
I'd highly recommend last year's "Why We Sleep"  for more info on memory performance and how it's impacted far more that you'd suspect by full (and quality) sleep, which is in turn impacted far more than you'd suspect by alcohol and stress (not to mention kids).
I've mentioned the book on several other thread , so there's plenty of opinions there if you're interested in knowing more.
His interview on Joe Rogan is a good summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwaWilO_Pig
He covers everything from why we sleep (obv), naps, melatonin, etc. I've just finished it and really enjoyed it.
The Promise of Sleep is an okay book, but it is almost 20 years old now and it shows.
I have read both books and it is remarkable how much more we learned in the time between them.
Most of my life I did the typical not getting enough sleep and then binging on the weekend, which doesn't work well at all. Since reading "Why We Sleep" though, I've changed my lifestyle to prioritize getting quality sleep every single night. That book was pretty eye-opening in obliterating a lot of myths I believed about sleep and then teaching my how complex and important it is, indeed it is just as important as waking time if not more. The idea that time spent asleep is "wasted time" is now absurd to me, as so many bad things happen when you short sleep.
Since getting quality sleep regularly it's been like unlocking a superpower: retaining more information, better progress with strength training and skill-based hobbies, more solid emotional balance and way more motivation / inspiration at work.
Can't recommend that book enough.
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