The Rich Roll Podcast

Neuroscientist Matthew Walker On Why Sleep Is Your Superpower

Why do we sleep? What exactly happens when we sleep and why is it so important? What are the implications of sleep deprivation? And what can we do to improve our sleep hygiene?

Answering these questions is the life’s work Dr. Matthew Walker.

Longtime listeners know that I am obsessed with sleep and the critical role it plays in every facet of health. This infatuation is driven in no small part by the incredible work of today’s guest, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists and researchers in the field of sleep science.

Matriculating at Nottingham University where he studied neuroscience, Matthew earned his Ph.D. in neurophysiology from the Medical Research Council in London, subsequently became a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and is currently a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he serves as the founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science.

In addition, Matthew hosts a MasterClass on the science of better sleep. His TED Talk, ‘Sleep is your superpower’ has over 20 million views. And his international smash bestselling book Why We Sleep—a must-read for anyone and everyone looking to live and feel better—provides the framework for today’s mind-blowing, slumber-focused primer.

To put it rather bluntly, this conversation covers everything you need and ever wanted to know about sleep, including:

  • why do we sleep?
  • what happens to our bodies and minds when we sleep
  • why is sleep so important?
  • what happens when we don’t get enough?
  • what is the deal with dreams, sleepwalking & sleep paralysis?
  • what are the various stages of sleep (REM, deep, etc.)?
  • what can we do to prioritize and improve our sleep? 

In addition, Dr. Walker answers the questions like: how do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? What is the relationship between sleep, immunity, weight gain, and mood? And most critical: how do we resolve the global sleep-loss epidemic?

All told, this is an utterly fascinating masterclass on why you must rethink your relationship with sleep and the profound short and long-term impacts sleep has on every facet of our lives from learning to mood, productivity, energy, hormone regulation, longevity, and even susceptibility to cancer and other diseases.

To read more click here. You can also watch our exchange on YouTube. And as always, the podcast streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

I urge all of you to absorb this conversation in its entirety. Whip out your pen and paper—this is essential, potentially life-altering listening for every human. And simply put, it’s everything I hoped it would be.

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Thank The Team: I do not do this alone. Send your love to Jason Camiolo for production, audio engineering and show notes; Margo Lubin and Blake Curtis for video, editing and graphics; portraits by Ali Rogers & Davy Greenberg; copywriting by Georgia Whaley; and theme music by Tyler Piatt. Trapper Piatt & Hari Mathis.

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