Sleep – The shocking science 4 part series

lion sleeping beside rock
Photo by Aldo Picaso on

This week I would like to share Professor Walker’s findings on Sleep having listened to this incredible man and read his new book:

Why we sleep?


Matthew Walker PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and Founder and Director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science.

PART 1The scary statistics

PART 2Using Sleep to hack performance

PART 3Sleep and Diet

PART 4How can we Sleep better? What the research shows.

We are fascinating creatures with such complex internal systems with one goal in mind- to keep ourselves alive.
The more I study and read, the more I realise how little we know about our amazing bodies.

It’s taken nature 3.6 million years to develop and fine-tune this 8-hour sleep state. Why is it so important?

From an evolutionary point of view during sleep we couldn’t:

  • Care for our young
  • Search for food
  • Defend ourselves from predators
  • Find a suitable mate

So why is sleep such a big deal?

Since our two boys were born I had become convinced that I could survive on 4 hours sleep and still function at 150%.

After listening to Matthew Walker and reading about his findings from 20 years of sleep research, my whole routine and habits have gone out of the window. This shocked me to the core.

PART 1 – The Scary Statistics

Many studies have now categorically shown over a period of time that :

The shorter you sleep, the Shorter your life.

In the awake state, our body is producing waste and our normal daily activities result in minor brain damage which the body is designed to repair and heal and clean out overnight.

Findings show that the percentage of people that can survive on less than 7 hours sleep with no residual brain damage is equal to 0% of the world’s population.

Perhaps the most significant part of this is that the more sleep deprived you are, the more you feel you can cope. This is because a lack of sleep shuts down areas of the brain involved in logical thinking and increases emotional centres of the brain resulting in poor decision making and elevated emotional responses.

Daylight saving changes have given us stunning statistics :

Losing 1 hour of sleep has been correlated with a 24% increase in heart attacks.

Gaining 1 hour of sleep has been linked to a reduction in heart attacks by 21%.

Sleep and immune function

Natural Killer cells similar to secret service assassins actively search and destroy the bad guys, in our case all cancer cell activity. During the day we all produce cancerous cells. At night we have been gifted with NK cells that clean them up and reset us ready for another day.

4 hours of sleep has now shown to reduce the activity of these cancer-killing NK cells by 70%.

Sleep and risk of life-limiting diseases

Sleep has now been shown to be the MOST significant factor in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, cancers of the breast, prostate and bowel.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan both reported to survive on 4 to 5 hours sleep were sadly both diagnosed with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Deep Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep has been shown to clean toxins from our brain and reduce sticky proteins called:

‘Beta Amyloid’

which has been shown to increase in the brains of Alzheimer patients.

Sleep and shift work

Due to the poor sleep patterns involved the World Health Organisation has classified shift work as a Class 2A carcinogen – a possible cause of cancer.

Sleep and driving

Every 30 seconds there is reported to be an accident from drowsy driving more than accidents reported from drink and drugs.


When underslept the brain tries to capture back some of its lost sleep by causing microsleeps, this is when the brain literally falls asleep for a short moment in time.

So whereas alcohol results in DELAYED REACTIONS.

Lack of sleep results in NO REACTION for a short period of time.

Fatal when driving.

Sleep and ageing in Men

Men who sleep 5 -6 hours a night show lower testosterone levels and show physical performance levels of men 10 years their senior.

Sleep and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)

Studies have shown children with sleep deprivation or sleep breathing problems show behaviours that doctors would label as ADHD.

Once the sleep disorders were corrected with children now sleeping 7 to 9 hours or more (or tonsils removed to help their sleep) their ‘ADHD’ disappeared and diagnoses reversed.

Sleep and teenage death

In one American state when school start times moved from 735am to 835am, there was a reported 70 % REDUCTION in teenage driving accidents.

baby birth born care
Photo by on

Sleep and premature babies

In neonatal units, after a push to reduce lighting to help regulate baby sleep cycles, there was a significant:

  • INCREASE in OXYGEN saturation in the baby’s blood
  • INCREASE in the weight gain
  • EARLIER discharge of 5 WEEKS earlier than before their sleep was regulated.

In the US 1 in 2 adults is sleep deprived.

1 in 3 gets less than 6 hours of sleep.

Some sources claim that 1 in 3 people over 65 in developed countries will die with dementia.

It is Professor Walker’s life goal to bring this knowledge to the world.

‘It is his singular goal: to reunite humanity with sleep’.

Join me again to find out what his research says about how we can hack sleep to improve our performance and motor skills.

PART 1The scary statistics

PART 2Using Sleep to hack performance

PART 3Sleep and Diet

Thank you as always for joining me on this journey and for spreading the word.

Please share with all you know so we can help Professor Walker in his quest to reduce sleep deprivation and the possible associated life-limiting diseases and death.

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