• Why We Sleep

  • Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
  • By: Matthew Walker
  • Narrated by: Steve West
  • Length: 13 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (14,865 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The first sleep book by a leading scientific expert - Professor Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab - reveals his groundbreaking exploration of sleep, explaining how we can harness its transformative power to change our lives for the better.

Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and longevity. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don't sleep. Compared to the other basic drives in life - eating, drinking, and reproducing - the purpose of sleep remained elusive.

But an explosion of scientific discoveries in the last 20 years has shed new light on this fundamental aspect of our lives. Now, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives us a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming. Among so many other things, within the brain, sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming mollifies painful memories and creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge to inspire creativity.

Walker answers important questions about sleep: How do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? What really happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect us, and can they do long-term damage? Charting cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs and synthesizing decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes; slow the effects of aging; increase longevity; enhance the education and lifespan of our children, and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses. Clear-eyed, fascinating, and immensely accessible, Why We Sleep is the crucial account on sleep that will forever change listeners' minds on the subject.

©2017 Matthew Walker (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Featured Article: The Best Listens to Help You Fall Asleep and Wake Up Refreshed


Sleep. On one hand, it’s about eight hours between you and all of the goals you need to accomplish, which can feel like a bit of a bummer. But on the other, you need sleep to be well-rested and clearheaded enough to achieve those goals. Verdict? Sleep wins. Ranging from audiobooks on the science of sleep and meditation to calming bedtime listens to lull you into slumber, these selections will help you find a new nighttime routine.

What listeners say about Why We Sleep

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I recommend this to EVERYONE

I first noticed Why We Sleep on Audible's homepage under "New in Non-Fiction" and clicked on it simply because I saw it was narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Steve West. The subtitle "Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams" makes this sound like it would be full of watered down science and generic advice about getting a good night's sleep or interpreting your dreams. That is NOT what this book is, thankfully. Matthew Walker presents study after study explaining why we need sleep for every aspect of our lives (to prevent disease, to help remember things, to look more attractive, etc.). I was fascinated for all 14 hours of this book. I've recommended it to every person I know, because the content of the book is just so IMPORTANT. The next time I hear someone say, "Oh, I only need 5 hours of sleep a night," I will tell them how wrong they are and shove this book in their face. Seriously, everyone needs to READ THIS BOOK!!! Our society holds some really erroneous beliefs about sleep, from how much you should be getting a night, to whether you really have insomnia (you probably don't). Walker addresses everything you ever wanted to know about sleep and more in this book. I will be listening to this again soon.

114 people found this helpful

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The best book on sleep bar none

I absolutely hated this book for the first number of chapters. Both the narrator and the content (as applicable) seemed pretentious, dry, and lacking in anything of interest. However, it got so much better as I progressed through the book and eventually I came to view this as the best "sleep book" that I've ever read. I listen to a lot of podcasts on health, sleep and related content, and yet I learned a lot in this book that I never knew about sleep related issues.

I highly recommend that everyone read this book and I've purchased copies for many people that I know already. The content in this book can dramatically help improve the life of almost anyone.

108 people found this helpful

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One of my favorite nonfiction reads of 2017

I had been avoiding reading a book on what lack of sleep does to a person because I figured it the news would not be good and I sleep so badly, I just didn't want to know. But I heard the author on NPR and it sounded so interesting, I got it.

The news was worse than I thought! Nevertheless, it was so fascinating, full of such interesting information, I'm glad I read/listened to it. It's one of the few books that I'd say, "Everyone should read this." For those who can manage to get a decent night's sleep but think 5 or 6 hours is enough--this might change their minds.

62 people found this helpful

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Good content, inadequate reading

Story: 5 starts Reading: 1 star

The Story
The content is updated, well organized and clear, yet not too simplistic. The previous time that I read about the science of sleep was almost three decades ago, and after listening to Matthew Walker's audio-book, I realized that these three decades had been very productive for sleep researchers.

The Reading
On the other hand, The reading is problematic and has some problems which seriously spoil the reading experience. First, it is very monotonous, and lacks the necessary vocal excitement that is so much needed for the delivery of an exciting scientific information. This may imply that the reader is not really interested in the fascinating story, and the result is that I had some difficulties keeping my concentration an found myself pressing the '30 seconds back' button repeatedly.

My conclusion is that it is best if scientists would read their own books, just like in the lectures of "The Great Courses".


46 people found this helpful

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Good content. Good voice. Badly read.

I like the book, content and message. 5 stars.
I like the voice of the reader. 5 stars
However, there are unnatural pauses after every second or third word. This causes a very very incoherent listening experience.

46 people found this helpful

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Good basic information

This was a good book, but had some very basic information in it. If you are looking for ways to help you sleep better, find something else. If you are wanting to understand the benefits of sleeping or detriments of not sleeping, this is very good. I enjoyed the narration.

39 people found this helpful

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Wow, should have read this years ago...

It is amazing how Matt Walker takes these new studies and forms them into data we can learn from. Data that is not dry and mind-numbing but interesting and wants you to listen to sections over to really soak in that information. After reading this book and am much more driven to protect my sleep time and keep a schedule. And I must say that my life daily stability is much more even, that my pulls from memory and learning is becoming better even though I am aging and that effect on memories.

So I encourage you, that if you are reading this, to get this book and value yourself enough to take this topic seriously so you protect something that you can not get back.

36 people found this helpful

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Before this I was ignorant

As a scientist myself I loved listening to this. It has changed a lot of my habits around sleep. Also it's given me some hope for Alzheimer's which my grandmother had.

Before this book I was ignorant of the impact of sleep. During the course of reading it I've changed my habits and honestly feel a non placebo benifit

29 people found this helpful

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The importance of sleep has blown my mind

I never knew sleep was so paramount to my health until now. Before today I knew a lack of sleep was unhealthy but now I know why consistent sleep and rest are vital to healthy living.

14 people found this helpful

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  • CL
  • 10-14-19

Dry as a popcorn fart

Great book as far as information. But every lesson is dragged on so far there could be an 8 episode Netflix series for each reason why you need more sleep.
I bought the book and tried reading it on my own. It’s better but not by much. With the combination of the narrator of this audiobook and the book, the goal of the author is being achieved. I fell asleep every time without fail. Same as that Daniel Kahneman book, thinking fast and slow; it doesn’t need to be as long as it is. I’ll finish the book when someone comes out with a summary.

13 people found this helpful