One of the book’s real strengths is how clearly it elucidates the extent of the damage wrought by our collective ignorance of the importance and complexity of sleep’s role in our lives, and the difficulty encountered by many of us in getting any ... The book bears a sobering and vital message, too, about the centrality of sleep to the proper development of young minds ... Despite the direness of his warning, Walker’s tone is mostly chipper and likable in the standard pop-sci style, and he is excellent at explaining complex neurological phenomena for a general readership. He does occasionally get bogged down in ill-advised wordplay...But I suppose it’s churlish to take issue with the prose of a person who is trying to save you from an existence of exhaustion and misery, terminating in early death – a bit like grumbling about insufficient legroom in a life raft. Because that’s what this book is. It’s probably a little too soon to tell you that Why We Sleep saved my life, but I can tell you that it’s been an eye-opener.
Why We Sleep, by contrast, is a book on a mission. Walker is in love with sleep and wants us to fall in love with sleep, too. And it is urgent for him. He makes the argument, persuasively, that we are in the midst of a 'silent sleep loss epidemic' that poses 'the greatest public health challenge we face in the 21st century' ... As information-dense as Why We Sleep is, Walker is adroit at presenting his findings and their implications in language accessible to the lay reader ... One especially winning attribute of Walker is that he’s not a scold. He frames his suggestions for more healthful sleep habits not as a series of eat-your-Wheaties admonitions, but as wondrous, uplifting improvements in quality of life ... Very occasionally, Walker’s zeal tips into zealotry...But, generally, Why We Sleep mounts a persuasive, exuberant case for addressing our societal sleep deficit and for the virtues of sleep itself. It is recommended night-table reading in the most pragmatic sense.
Why We Sleep has an unemotive title that makes it sound like a neutral exposition of the latest research into sleep and dreams — and it is indeed richly packed with science — but the book is far more than that. Walker has written an angry polemic about what he sees as the blindness of individuals and society as a whole to an unfolding public health disaster ... All this evidence for the harmful effects of inadequate sleep, which Walker outlines in clear and readable terms, is indisputable ... The weak link in his argument concerns how much people actually sleep in the real world, rather than their behaviour in scientific studies ... This is a stimulating and important book which you should read in the knowledge that the author is, as he puts it, 'in love with everything that sleep is and does.'