Listen free for 30 days

Why We Sleep

The New Science of Sleep and Dreams
Narrated by: John Sackville
Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
5 out of 5 stars (5,466 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

The Top Ten Sunday Times Best Seller
TLS, Observer, Sunday Times, FT, Guardian, Daily Mail and Evening Standard Books of the Year 2017

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, read by John Sackville.

Includes a bonus PDF of graphs and diagrams.

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world - Alzheimer's, cancer, obesity, diabetes - has very strong causal links to deficient sleep.

Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why its absence is so damaging to our health. Compared to the other basic drives in life - eating, drinking, and reproducing - the purpose of sleep remained elusive.

Now, in this book, the first of its kind written by a scientific expert, Professor Matthew Walker explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves in to everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence.

©2017 Matthew Walker (P)2017 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic reviews

"Vital... a life-raft." ( Guardian)
"A top sleep scientist argues that sleep is more important for our health than diet or exercise." ( The Times)
"It had a powerful effect on me." ( Observer)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4,602
  • 4 Stars
    660
  • 3 Stars
    135
  • 2 Stars
    33
  • 1 Stars
    36

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3,884
  • 4 Stars
    665
  • 3 Stars
    171
  • 2 Stars
    34
  • 1 Stars
    33

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3,855
  • 4 Stars
    606
  • 3 Stars
    162
  • 2 Stars
    36
  • 1 Stars
    34

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Ground-breaking, so the flaws are forgivable

Potentially life changing, which you cannot say about many books. The science is illuminating and the evidence is extremely persuasive.

It is not without flaws. The futurology and social commentary is less convincing. If you spend much of a book setting out the facts, supported by evidence, in order to build an argument that is not widely understood, you endanger your overall message if you veer off into ideas and opinions. In that regard it also felt padded a little.

The narration is very good, if a little "high and mighty" in its tone.

But pay little attention to these flaws. The core of this book is truly profound, and may cause you to rethink how you live your life.

And if you want an executive summary: Get another 30-60 mins sleep per night. You won't regret it.

82 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Is Sleep just for the Weak?

A hearty NO! Matthew’s 20+ years of sleep studying and psychological tests have delivered some of the biggest results for humans in the betterment of themselves, their safety and society. This is a must read(or listen) book for all who are interested in prolonging their life or taking steps so as not to shorten it. John narrates the book wonderfully and really brings the enthusiasm that Matthew Walker pens. From increasing you chance of fighting off the common cold to even improving your chances of surviving cancer “Why We Sleep?” is an insightful and motivating book.

56 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Discouraging for insomniacs

This book is full of fascinating information and studies about every aspect of sleep you can imagine from animals to humans at every stage of their lives. As someone who has suffered with poor sleep for years, I was keen to hear some ideas about how I can improve my sleep. A few things about this book really annoyed me though. The main thing was that throughout the book it is implied that reduced sleep is a 'lifestyle choice' for people who do not priortise it. This may be the case for some people but I am desperate for more sleep. It is also depressing to hear in detail how much irreparable damage my poor sleep has done to me over the years - it sounds like a terminal illness! Finally, it makes it sound like insomnia is easily treated by CBTi. I have not found this to be the case. It's going to be even harder for me to reduce my anxiety and challenge my negative thoughts about poor sleep having read this book. Having said that I will forget all about it soon anyway as poor memory is a major feature of poor sleep.

121 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Facinating and useful

Sorting out my sleep patterns has been my main New Years resolution as I have come to the conclusion that most other things in my life will improve greatly once this is achieved.
But I hadn't realised the vast catalogue of problems sleep deprivation is causing in the developed world. And that almost all of us will be suffering from it to some degree.
This book is both very interesting in explaining the mechanism of sleep, and everything in our modern lives that have an influence on the quality of our sleep.
Concluding with a comprehensive list of everything we can do to free ourselves from the misery of tiredness and under performance in the day and sleeplessness at night.
I'm going to listen again. And this time I'm taking notes.

40 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting and possibly life changing book

Would you listen to Why We Sleep again? Why?

The deep and calm voice of the narrator makes this audiobook a pleasure to listen to. I will certainly re-listen to 'Why We Sleep' because it offers plenty of interesting information on the importance of sleep and it's packed with tips on how to make your sleep healthier; to make a full use of the knowledge the book offers, I need to listen to certain chapters again and take some notes.

Any additional comments?

The book is potentially life changing, especially if you happen to suffer from sleep deprivation and/or ill health potentially caused by it. It makes a very strong case for prioritising good sleep and it motivated me to care for myself and my family better. Of particular interest to me were the author's discussions of children's sleep, it's potential connection to ADHD and dangers of sleep deprivation in youngsters. I became a much more sleep-conscious parent as a result. I highly recommend this audiobook!

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Woke me up

Really well-considered work. Helped me to start to monitor my sleep pattern and working to obey first law, get to bed and up about same time every night and morning. Have struggled with diabetes and obesity for years. Now sleeping better and making good progress.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A life-changing book

Would you consider the audio edition of Why We Sleep to be better than the print version?

The narrator does an excellent job stressing the key phrased and pacing the narration in such a way that I believe I take away more information that I would have if I had read the book myself.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Of course everyone 'knows' that a good night's sleep is important, but my god the author brings together such a body of evidence that I'm left in no doubt of the benefits of 8 hours of natural sleep. You will never take sleep for granted again. I'm convinced that this book will save lives and the health of many people.

What about John Sackville’s performance did you like?

Well paced and a great voice.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It's more of an intellectual and scientific book, but the importance that sleep plays in our life comes across in a profound way.

Any additional comments?

The author encourages the reader to read/listen to the chapters in the order that appeals to them.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely interesting!!!

One of the best audio books I've ever listened to. Everybody sleeps and therefore everybody would find this interesting - I did! Wish I could have had a chat with the author afterwards. Will send a copy of this book to my children's school about start times. Thank you

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • CM
  • 16-04-18

Superb

Any additional comments?

This book has completely changed my attitude to sleep - it presents a number of fascinating facts and new research into the science of sleep and debunks many myths associated with sleep. I was particularly alarmed by the facts associated with sleep and alcohol.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The most fascinating book I have read in 20 years

Would you listen to Why We Sleep again? Why?

Yes, and I am already (immediately after finishing it). The subject has changed my life and I want to ensure I took it all in first time!

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I cannot pick one chapter. They are all exceptional. The beauty of the writing is that you can dip in and out of chapters and read them in any order and they still make perfect sense. Fantastic!

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Sleep: Evolutionary Elixir (SEE for short!)

Any additional comments?

This book has already changed my life and continues to do so. It is no exaggeration to say it is the best book i have ever read/listened to. I am lucky in that I do not particularly suffer from sleep problems but, either way, the book is fascinating, interesting and informative. I could not recommend this book more highly.

23 people found this helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Winston Lee
  • Winston Lee
  • 06-03-18

Informative with passionate narrator

I would recommend this book to anybody who is currently sleeping less than 7 hours per night and wants to find a shortcut to improving their life in all aspects. I found the information here enlightening and the evidence compelling.

The narrator is great too, he manages to imitate the various accents and also reads the sentences in a way that very accurately brings across the weight and meaning of the point that Matthew Walker is trying to bring across. I felt like the narrator was the writer himself.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Margarita Marti
  • Margarita Marti
  • 01-10-19

One of the best books

Enlightening! Every policy maker must read this book. Many times we skip straight to solutions. This book is all about the why and I believe it is vital that our why is clear. Why we sleep? Explains the importance of sleep, what improves its quality and what doesn't.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tecomarob
  • Tecomarob
  • 01-02-20

Essential reading for a healthy society

John Sackville reads beautifully. Practical sleep ideas backed up with scientific facts. A little repetitive.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 24-12-19

Important read / listen

Informative and changed the way I think about and prioritize sleep. The narration makes it difficult to complete the book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jaco van Niekerk
  • Jaco van Niekerk
  • 18-12-19

Life changing

Who writes a book on sleep? Really? That semi-comatose state that "robs" us from life...

I bought this book as I was intrigued by the high rating. I've never had my opinions changed so profoundly. This is a phenomenal book, well written, well naratated with a passion and scientific vigour that I have not experienced in a long time.

I've implemented Walker's recommendations in my life and there is now a stark difference between myself now and the person a few weeks ago. Self-help books requires so much will power and it seldom lasts. This is different... this is not a self-help book, more like a critical chapter in the instruction manual to your brain, health and well-being that you have been missing since birth. The changes it advocates do not require much will to implement either. I have found that my body and mind almost immediately adjust to this new (but correct) way of being. The way it was build and design to function.

If you want to make a radical change in your life, a change for the better, if you want to be more emotionally stable, more alert with more energy, healthier, smarter with superior memory, then read this book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-12-19

Book.of the year

I'm completely Blown Away by this book. I think this is a must for anybody living the human experience.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Osman Badran
  • Osman Badran
  • 05-12-19

Sleeping is a way to thank your body

I never realized how important sleep is to our daily performance. This book is a great tool that helps us learn proper techniques on how to improve and respect our sleep in order to enjoy life.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for H. Misser
  • H. Misser
  • 01-12-19

Superb!

A scientifically informed scientifically informed guide to the importance of sleep, the vital importance of sleep to young minds and the deleterious of inadequate sleep on society as a whole. Very well written and beautifully narrated.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-11-19

Important

It may come across as bit repetitive at times, but the message is a valuable listen worth repeating. He's actually progressing to the same point from many angles and studies and it is presented in a manner that the man on the street can understand.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for John  Maillard
  • John Maillard
  • 08-11-19

Everyone should read this book!

Fabulous, informative and interesting information that needs to be understood by parents, teachers, health care providers and employers.