Book Review: Sleep Smarter

Sleep Smarter:  21 Essential Strategies To Sleep Your Way To A Better Body, Better Health, And Bigger Success, by Shawn Stevenson

I have mixed feelings about this book and the approach of the author.  Reading this book is akin to attempting to buy a good quality used car and having to listen to a somewhat unethical used car salesman talk about it.  You know there is a good product in here somewhere but one does not know exactly how much to discount because of the dubious nature of the person making the claims.  Since sleep is a subject I know I personally struggle with to a great degree [1], I was at least amenable to some of the suggestions for better sleep and adopted some of them pretty quickly, including a handy piece of software that reduces the blue from screens at night to avoid overstimulating the eyes and making it hard to sleep.  I was struck, though, by how many of the suggestions for better sleep were quite frankly unattainable by a large amount of the population because they require a certain amount of income.  It is clear that this book is being marketed to those who can afford to buy products on a whim and are not struggling paycheck to paycheck, which makes it of limited use to most of those who suffer from poor sleep.

At about 250 pages, this book is divided into two unequal parts, the first of which are 21 tips for sleeping better and the second of which is a fourteen day self-administered sleep study to put those tips, or at least some of them, into practice.  The tips themselves run the gamut from obviously sound to possibly practical to extremely odd.  The author begins by trying to encourage the reader to know the value of sleep (1) and then get more sunlight during the day (2) while avoiding screens at least an hour and a half before sleeping (3).  The author encourages readers to have a caffeine curfew from at least 2PM onward or so (4) while keeping one’s body cool (5) and getting to bed at the right time (pretty early) (6).  The author encourages eating right to help fix sleep (7), creating a sleep sanctuary (8) and enjoying sex as a way of making one sleep better (9).  The author talks about the need to sleep in total darkness (10) as well as exercise early in the day to allow the body to heal at night (11) while avoiding social media in one’s room (12).  The author tells the reader to lose weight (13), go easy on alcohol (14), experiment with different sleep positions with a partner (15), and calm the inner chatter that keeps people awake (16).  The author urges some smart supplements (17), including some really odd recommendations for topical magnesium, along with an encouragement to rise early (18), get frequent massages (19), dress up (20), and get grounded through grounding pads that are supposed to eliminate excess free radicals that encourage inflammation (21).

Again, as might be imagined, some of this advice is obviously sound if somewhat difficult to put into practice.  Some of the advice is easy enough to put into practice or to try out if one has a lot of money–like buying grounding pads for one’s bed, replacing one’s mattress frequently, buying new alarm clocks, buying topical magnesium or only buying organic food to improve one’s diet.  Other advice, like practicing different sleep positions with a partner or enjoying frequent and intense sexual intercourse, is rather impractical for people who are #foreveralone.  And that balance of advice gives what is best and worse about the author’s approaches.  To undertake all of what the author suggests is quite expensive and possibly impractical.  To undertake at least some of what the author suggests is so trivial that one wonders whether this book needed to be this long to provide only a few tips that can be easily put into practice, as well as some advice that seems quite frankly insulting.  So, at the end of reading this book, one is led to wonder exactly who this book is aimed at, and how much of it he really intends on the reader putting into practice, and whether he really considers himself as much of a sleep guru as he seems to act like in this book.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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1 Response to Book Review: Sleep Smarter

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Healing Night | Edge Induced Cohesion

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