Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap the Rewards:
Better health, happiness and resilience
A detailed review of the science of sleep, and what this tells us about the importance of sleep for a happy, successful life.
By Renata Taylor-Byrne, 2019
“When forced to choose, I will not trade even a night’s sleep for the chance of extra profit”.
This book presents you with some of the most recent and instructive findings about the crucial importance of sleep for your mental, physical and emotional health; and your sense of happiness and well-being.
The findings presented in this book are derived from important and impressive research studies. The studies that I’ve reviewed are interesting and informative, and at times shocking. The results remind us that we ignore our need for an adequate night’s sleep at our peril.
I have also included techniques which can be used by you to protect, or restore, or enrich your sleep. We all need to resist the erosion of this essential, biological process. Under financial, economic and social pressures, and technological distractions and sleep disrupters, very many people are allowing their sleep to be downgraded, with serious implications for their health and happiness.
This book is split into two parts:
Part 1 explains the basic facts about sleep:
– our fluctuating need for sleep at different times in our life;
– different cultural patterns around sleep; and
– information explaining the different ways in which sleep affects the healthy functioning of our entire body-brain and mind.
Part 2 of the book describes physical, mental, nutritional and environmental strategies that can be used to improve your sleep. It also provides information on how to change existing habits and how to strengthen your boundaries in a world of group pressure, employer demands and constant distractions.
The reason I wrote this book was because I was alerted to the importance of sleep, and the dangers of ignoring our need for an adequate amount of sleep each and every night. I was amazed and disturbed by the research findings that Matthew Walker produced, over twenty years ago, at Harvard University.
Walker is Director of University of California at Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, and has been fascinated by the subject for decades; and wrote interestingly on the subject in his 2018 New York Times best-selling book on the subject.
Walker’s book appeared one year ago last month, and I read it avidly once I had discovered it. This led me to do a more thorough study of the other books available in this field of research. There are many other eminent researchers who have contributed to our understanding of why sleep is so important for human beings, whose key research experiments have been summarised in this book. These include Stephenson (2016), Maas (1998), and others mention later.
Different researchers tend to emphasize different aspects of both the problems that affect sleep, and the solutions to those problems. So I decided I wanted to identify some of the most important and useful findings, from across the whole field of study, and to bring them together in a single, slender volume, so that people could see what the scientific facts are about sleep: why we need it; what goes wrong with sleep; why this is a problem; and what we can do about the disrupters of sleep, or the distractors from sleep.
The logic behind this approach is that the more people are aware of the most recent evidence of the power of sleep, the more they will be able to see what they would gain if they protected and ring-fenced their sleep.
And if people are willing to experiment with developing better sleep habits, then they, and their families, will become healthier, stronger and happier
But behaviour change isn’t easy, so I have included information about how to change your sleep habits. There is a deceptively simple structure to habits, discovered by researchers, which can give people an insight into how they can change their sleep-reducing habits. This knowledge will give you the confidence to create new habits one step at a time.
Also in this book, I have included strategies you can use to handle outside pressure why? Because you may want to change some aspects of your lifestyle, on the basis of what you read in this book; but significant individuals in your life may want to resist those changes. You may face pressure from others to stay the same.
I have accumulated a rich body of insights into sleep – and why and how to optimize your own sleep – and I’ve presented them all in this book. My hope is that you will select the ones that are most helpful for you.
In the conclusion, I provide two things:
- A long list of the insights I have gained from my research into the field of sleep studies; and:
- A short list of ten of those insights, to get you quickly and easily started on the task of enriching your own life by improving your sleep habits.
Here is an illustration of just five of the key points I have featured on the short list:
- Alcohol doesn’t only cost you money – it costs you your sleep. Constant quick awakenings as you sleep at night are the result and you won’t even realise what’s happening, but you’ll feel the effects the following day.
- Problems which have arisen during your day, if unprocessed, will interfere with getting to sleep at night. Then, because you fail to get a full night’s sleep, the stress hormones your body has accumulated from the previous day won’t be reduced, and will carry over, into the following day.
- Driving whilst you are sleep-deprived is more dangerous than driving when drunk. For example: the person who has been drinking has slowed reactions, and slowed movements – but the person who is sleep-deprived falls asleep or has ‘micro-sleeps’ and stops reacting altogether.
- Don’t expect to remember information if you aren’t well-rested! You need to have enough sleep – before and after attempting to learn new information – for memories to be created.
- Lack of sleep makes people impatient and angry, and reduces and distorts their ability to understand the non-verbal messages from others, with potentially very negative consequences for relationships at home and at work. Our emotional intelligence (EQ) needs sustenance from a well-rested brain to operate properly. Otherwise, as research has shown, the tired brain distorts messages from others; and our empathy for others disappears.
Coming soon. Watch this space. This book will be available through Amazon outlets, as an eBook and a paperback, within a few weeks.
Renata Taylor-Byrne, February 2019
Email: Renata’s email address
 Walker, M. (2018) Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams. London: Penguin.