We, as people tend to overlook and give very little attention to the most obvious and ubiquitous things. When something is so natural for us like sleep we don’t care to examine it or ask a question, we take it as innate knowledge, like we suppose to know everything about it. It’s like breathing or walking, it’s natural for us and yet if you ever been running and experiencing pain in your stomach, you understand that there are a technique and actual science behind.

Sleep fit into the same category, it is so natural and yet so crucial for our lives. It is instrumental in developing our brains, how good is our memory, how good we perform, our emotional state, creativity, and much more. I started to understand more the importance of a good night sleep when I experienced 3 months of sleep Disturbia, where I could not fall asleep, and my life just turned upside down. I wasn’t able to perform necessary activities, not talking about the mood swings.

Matthew Paul Walker is an English scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is one of the most high-profile public intellectuals focused on the subject of sleep. His book not only covers everything you need to know about sleep, but it also gives other perspectives on how our society functions and how we neglect and put rest at the end of our priorities. With several studies and researches, you will understand the importance of good night sleep, the science behind the saying that “Morning is wiser than the night” or the suggestions you should “Sleep on it”. How the memory is built, what happens to your body when you lack sleep and even cases when sleep caused a death.

Also in one breath, he is debunking the false public knowledge that you can make up for the deficit of sleep by sleeping more the next day, or that you can function on less than 8 hours of sleep in your life.

I understand very well that it is not possible to switch your habits from one day to another, trust me. I’m a Dj, and my life is mostly at night where I should be sleeping. But you can make a few easy adjustments, and I guarantee you the outcomes and benefits comes withing few weeks and moths. Here are some essential tips to better your sleep:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule
  2. Exercise is great, but not too late in the day
  3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine (After 2 pm)
  4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed
  5. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night
  6. Don’t take naps after 3 pm
  7. Take a hot bath before bed
  8. Relax before bed, no blue light
  9. Dark and cold room for sleeping
  10. Get at least 30 minutes of sunlight a day
  11. Don’t lie in a bed when you can not sleep

“For every day you are in a different time zone, your suprachiasmatic nucleus can only readjust by about one hour. It therefore took me about eight days to readjust to London time after having been in San Francisco, since London is eight hours ahead of San Francisco.”

“The second evolutionary contribution that the REM-sleep dreaming state fuels is creativity. NREM sleep helps transfer and make safe newly learned information into long-term storage sites of the brain. But it is REM sleep that takes these freshly minted memories and begins colliding them with the entire back catalog of your life’s autobiography. These mnemonic collisions during REM sleep spark new creative insights as novel links are forged between unrelated pieces of information. Sleep cycle by sleep cycle, REM sleep helps construct vast associative networks of information within the brain. REM sleep can even take a step back, so to speak, and divine overarching insights and gist: something akin to general knowledge—that is, what a collection of information means as a whole, not just an inert back catalogue of facts. We can awake the next morning with new solutions to previously intractable problems or even be infused with radically new and original ideas.”

“More generally, these and similar studies have confirmed that poor sleep is one of the most underappreciated factors contributing to cognitive and medical ill health in the elderly, including issues of diabetes, depression, chronic pain, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.”

“The term “muscle memory” is a misnomer. Muscles themselves have no such memory: a muscle that is not connected to a brain cannot perform any skilled actions, nor does a muscle store skilled routines. Muscle memory is, in fact, brain memory. Training and strengthening muscles can help you better execute a skilled memory routine. But the routine itself—the memory program—resides firmly and exclusively within the brain.”

“After being awake for nineteen hours, people who were sleep-deprived were as cognitively impaired as those who were legally drunk. Said another way, if you wake up at seven a.m. and remain awake throughout the day, then go out socializing with friends until late that evening, yet drink no alcohol whatsoever, by the time you are driving home at two a.m. you are as cognitively impaired in your ability to attend to the road and what is around you as a legally drunk driver. In fact, participants in the above study started their nosedive in performance after just fifteen hours of being awake (ten p.m. in the above scenario).”

“After thirty years of intensive research, we can now answer many of the questions posed earlier. The recycle rate of a human being is around sixteen hours. After sixteen hours of being awake, the brain begins to fail. Humans need more than seven hours of sleep each night to maintain cognitive performance. After ten days of just seven hours of sleep, the brain is as dysfunctional as it would be after going without sleep for twenty-four hours. Three full nights of recovery sleep (i.e., more nights than a weekend) are insufficient to restore performance back to normal levels after a week of short sleeping. Finally, the human mind cannot accurately sense how sleep-deprived it is when sleep-deprived.”

“There are many things that I hope readers take away from this book. This is one of the most important: if you are drowsy while driving, please, please stop. It is lethal. To carry the burden of another’s death on your shoulders is a terrible thing. Don’t be misled by the many ineffective tactics people will tell you can battle back against drowsiness while driving.II Many of us think we can overcome drowsiness through sheer force of will, but, sadly, this is not true. To assume otherwise can jeopardize your life, the lives of your family or friends in the car with you, and the lives of other road users. Some people only get one chance to fall asleep at the wheel before losing their life.”

“REM-sleep dreaming offers a form of overnight therapy. That is, REM-sleep dreaming takes the painful sting out of difficult, even traumatic, emotional episodes you have experienced during the day, offering emotional resolution when you awake the next morning. At the heart of the theory was an astonishing change in the chemical cocktail of your brain that takes place during REM sleep. Concentrations of a key stress-related chemical called noradrenaline are completely shut off within your brain when you enter this dreaming sleep state. In fact, REM sleep is the only time during the twenty-four-hour period when your brain is completely devoid of this anxiety-triggering molecule. Noradrenaline, also known as norepinephrine, is the brain equivalent to a body chemical you already know and have felt the effects of: adrenaline (epinephrine).”

“It is this set of features of sleep paralysis that we now believe explains a large majority of alien abduction claims. Rarely do you hear of aliens accosting an individual in the middle of the day with testimonial witnesses standing in plain sight, dumbstruck by the extraterrestrial kidnapping in progress. Instead, most alleged alien abductions take place at night; most classic alien visitations in Hollywood movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind or E.T. also occur at night. Moreover, victims of claimed alien abductions frequently report the sense of, or real presence of, a being in the room (the alien). Finally—and this is the key giveaway—the alleged victim frequently describes having been injected with a “paralyzing agent.” Consequently, the victim will describe wanting to fight back, run away, or call out for help but being unable to do so. The offending force is, of course, not aliens, but the persistence of REM-sleep paralysis upon awakening.”

“The need to dump heat from our extremities is also the reason that you may occasionally stick your hands and feet out from underneath the bedcovers at night due to your core becoming too hot, usually without your knowing. Should you have children, you’ve probably seen the same phenomenon when you check in on them late at night: arms and legs dangling out of the bed in amusing (and endearing) ways, so different from the neatly positioned limbs you placed beneath the sheets upon first tucking them into bed. The limb rebellion aids in keeping the body core cool, allowing it to fall and stay asleep.”

“Research findings have also revealed that increasing sleep by way of delayed school start times wonderfully increases class attendance, reduces behavioral and psychological problems, and decreases substance and alcohol use. In addition, later start times beneficially mean a later finish time. This protects many teens from the well-researched “danger window” between three and six p.m., when schools finish but before parents return home. This unsupervised, vulnerable time period is a recognized cause of involvement in crime and alcohol and substance abuse. Later school start times profitably shorten this danger window, reduce these adverse outcomes, and therefore lower the associated financial cost to society (a savings that could be reinvested to offset any additional expenditures that later school start times require).”

“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.”

“The injurious consequences are well documented. Residents working a thirty-hour-straight shift will commit 36 percent more serious medical errors, such as prescribing the wrong dose of a drug or leaving a surgical implement inside of a patient, compared with those working sixteen hours or less. Additionally, after a thirty-hour shift without sleep, residents make a whopping 460 percent more diagnostic mistakes in the intensive care unit than when well rested after enough sleep. Throughout the course of their residency, one in five medical residents will make a sleepless-related medical error that causes significant, liable harm to a patient. One in twenty residents will kill a patient due to a lack of sleep. Since there are over 100,000 residents currently in training in US medical programs, this means that many hundreds of people—sons, daughters, husbands, wives, grandparents, brothers, sisters—are needlessly losing their lives every year because residents are not allowed to get the sleep they need. As I write this chapter, a new report has discovered that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death among Americans after heart attacks and cancer. Sleeplessness undoubtedly plays a role in those lives lost.”