The Importance of Sleep: Your Life May Just Depend On It

Are you feeling overworked and tired? According to leading neurologist Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, you're not alone. Sleep deprivation is a very real problem in the UK as roughly 66% of adults in developed nations fail to get the World Health Organisation recommended 8 hours of sleep.

The Harmful Impacts of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can cause numerous health and mental problems. In fact, sleep deprivation has such serious impacts on our well-being that over 20 large-scale experiments have conclusively confirmed that it can lead to an earlier death.

For example, an adult sleeping only 6.75 hours a night, without medical help, is only likely to live till their early 60s. According to Matthew Walker, sleep deprivation negatively impacts every part of your body. With nearly 50% of adults trying to survive on 6 hours or less of sleep a night, this is a problem that desperately needs to be fixed.

The Social Stigma Against Sleep

Why then is sleep one of the first things we sacrifice when life gets busy? Matthew Walker believes that the importance of sleep has been undervalued and there is a significant lack of information on the harmful impacts of sleep deprivation.

It also certainly doesn't help that Western society equates success to a lack of sleep. In Western society, productive and successful people don't sleep – just look at Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill's claims of only sleeping a few hours each night.

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

However, by sacrificing sleep, we are also sacrificing our well-being. Matthew attempts to communicate this message and challenge the social stigma against sleep in his recent book Why We Sleep.

Why We Sleep takes a thorough look at the benefits of sleep: better mental health, creativity, ability to lose weight, and even sperm count. It also presents information about the many drawbacks: increased risk of cancer and heart attack, impaired judgment, shorter lifespan, a greater chance of disease, and more.

Sleep deprivation is a serious problem facing modern society.

After reading Why We Sleep, you'll have a new perspective on the importance of sleeping at least 8 hours a night. Though if reading the full book may cause you to lose sleep, The Guardian's article The Shorter You Sleep, The Shorter You Live provides a good overview of the basic facts and messages within the book.

The OM Team


  1. I’m deprived of sleep and it’s got nothing to do with overwork. Just find it hard to sleep very long.

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