Maintenance Phase: The "Sleep Loss Epidemic"
December 15, 2021 5:26 PM - Subscribe

Matthew Walker’s "Why We Sleep" was one of the most popular and acclaimed wellness books of 2017. There’s just one problem: Much of it isn’t true. Support the show:
posted by bq (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Another episode with no weight loss content - and I love it. I’m totally cool hearing about Methodology Twitter and Academic Beefs.

I had not heard of this book, thank goodness, although I do feel like my pseudoscience radar is refined enough that I would have twigged to it if I’d come across it in its heyday.

As someone with problematic sleep I also find it frustrating that a lot of the sleep recommendations seem to ignore my existence.

The same correlation/causation with a U-shaped curve happens with LDL as it does with sleep. There is a vocal minority of, mmm, shall we say, people with non-mainstream views, who contend that because mortality rates are high in the upper age ranges for people with low LDL, that means LDL is no causal for heart disease…. Unfortunately for this hypothesis there are ton of serious medical conditions that cause your LDL to plummet.

I hope they do an episode on the Carnivore Diet.
posted by bq at 8:01 PM on December 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed this episode a lot. They brought up a bunch of fantastic broader issues around this silly book. Really, this sort of nonsense is so unchecked, it's unbelievable!
posted by iamkimiam at 8:48 AM on December 16, 2021

I enjoyed it but didn't love it. Ultimately I think I'm really listening for the content that is more directly tied to diet/fat/weight loss/etc. Still, I won't stop listening, that's for sure.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:24 PM on December 16, 2021

This is great. I was almost disappointed to hear that the book was crap, though, because I'm tired. I can't sleep a whole night because I have a puppy, and before that it was bad enough for other reasons, so I would at least like the dignity of thinking that my problem is as serious as it feels.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:16 PM on December 16, 2021

During a particularly terrible bout of insomnia, I read basically every book on sleep there is, and this is pretty typical. This book seems particularly egregious, but most books on sleep seem to think that “trying harder” and better sleep hygiene are the answer. They don’t believe in life long insomniacs - people like me who started with sleep issues as a toddler. I go through cycles where I spend 2 out of 3 nights awake, and can barely function. I have excellent sleep hygiene - but luckily there are drugs.

I loved this episode.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 2:55 PM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

this sort of nonsense is so unchecked, it's unbelievable

Yes, I think that’s the real shocker - there’s absolutely no professional consequences for a legitimate researcher publishing this kind of unscientific blather
posted by bq at 6:46 PM on December 16, 2021

I remember listening to a different podcast with a sleep researcher where he went over the various strategies to improve sleep and then summed them up by saying ‘of course none of those work if you have an actual problem’.
posted by bq at 6:48 PM on December 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I remember discussions of that book when it came out and a lot of his pseudo-science claims have permeated the culture now. I'm glad this episode has clarified that the book is garbage, but it's hard to delete this sort of pop-science literature once it's out and about for years.
posted by crossoverman at 5:04 PM on December 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

They're doing a good job at picking out things that sound like science but mostly aren't.

Every time I hear about this book, I worry that my respect for James Horne's book "Why we sleep" will be spoiled. I'm glad that hasn't happened, yet. It won't give you any lifestyle advice, but it's interesting. Also, book vendors need to come up with more original titles.
posted by eotvos at 11:21 AM on December 19, 2021

I have excellent sleep hygiene - but luckily there are drugs.

Me too--but Walker makes a big thing out of the difference between sleep (no drugs) and sedation) what you get with drugs which ruined pill taking for me. I especially remember some study he quotes where use of Ambien only once a week turned out to have even worse consequences than more regular use. And this podcast didn't address the subject of drugs. I'm just going to have to rely on the knowledge that the prevalence of errors elsewhere means I don't have to assume the truth of what he said in general.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:01 PM on December 20, 2021

I am having a period of extreme insomnia—after struggling with insomnia for awhile during perimenopause, and then a long stretch where I was sleeping great, I now cannot sleep and even drugs don't help. Narcotics, benzos, Ambien and other sleep-specific meds, weed, the phenobarbitol I'm temporarily on for an unrelated condition—these are all highly sedating and they do not put me to sleep. I can feel them in there, trying (obviously not all of them at once—one at a time, dosages per my doctors' orders), but I cannot sleep. I will finally fall asleep around 4 or 5 in the morning, and then sleep til mid-afternoon. I'm lucky I'm not trying to hold down a job, but there are other things I'm trying to get done during business hours, and it's not being easy.

I see the sleep doctor in a little over a week. Not expecting much.

Anyway, I listened to this episode and enjoyed it. I really like the hosts, but the fat-specific content of the podcast can be triggering/distressing to me—I'm actively dealing right now with being more disabled than I need to be because certain treatments are denied to fat people, and I've been reading fat activist stuff for close to forty years, so there's nothing new for me really, and I don't need to get more upset. So I've been enjoying their episodes that don't have fat-specific content.
posted by Well I never at 5:02 PM on December 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

« Older All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite:...   |  The King's Affection: The King... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments