Walker’s Why We Sleep

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
Matthew Walker, Phd.

A truly terrifying book about the long term health consequences of cutting your sleep short. Especially if, like me, you’re the parent of young children, who drinks coffee and alcohol.

Its all around a grim scene, increased risk of all cause morbidity, increase likelihood of alzheimer’s, increased likelihood of obesity. There’s basically no good news. While the book covers a lot of ground (why we sleep, why we dream sleep in children and adolescents, etc.) it was the warnings about consuming caffeine and alcohol (short answer – don’t) and the tips for high quality sleep (shut off the damn phone) that really resonated with me.

Time to cut back on the wine and coffee and shut the light off earlier – I want to live for a long time to come.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

Matthew Walker, Author of Why We Sleep

Matthew Walker, Author of Why We Sleep

Review: Buettner’s Blue Zones

The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest
Dan Buettner

The first book in the Blue Zone empire. Though it is at times silly, this is a must read for anyone interested in longevity.

If you’ve been living under a rock, let me briefly explain the conceit of this book. “Blue Zones” are areas of the world which have abnormally high levels of centenarians. In the book, Buettner and his team go to five of these zone (Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California,
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica and Icaria, Greece) and attempt to discover why it is that people in these communities live so long.

A lot of anecdotal evidence is collected, some of it more scientific than others, but all of it fascinating. Buettner takes this information and develops a set of nine guiding principles for a long, healthy life. These include:
1. Moderate, regular physical activity.
2. Life purpose.
3. Stress reduction.
4. Moderate calories intake.
5. Plant-based diet.
6. Moderate alcohol intake, especially wine.
7. Engagement in spirituality or religion.
8. Engagement in family life.
9. Engagement in social life.

In other areas of this website, I write quite a bit about these principles. Here I’ll just say that while the subject matter of this book is fascinating, the presentation can be a bit annoying. As what is basically a popular health and wellness book, it has all those annoying side bar anecdote things plus silly cute stories of old people, and maudlin reflections on how fucked up the modern world is. I found it often annoying, but also essential. Hold your nose, and get through the corniness. There’s a lot of very important information here.

Recommended.

Review: Bittman’s Vegan Before Six

VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good
Mark Bittman
I’ve written separately about my own efforts to follow the “Vegan Before Six” diet, so I’ll limit this to a review of the book. While you don’t need to read this to follow the VB6 guidelines, it helps. No surprise, Bittman is clear, concise, and cuts through the dieting bullshit to get to the crux of the matter – you should be eating more plants, less meat, and no crap. He backs up this basic (but often hard to follow) advice with solid science and helpful recipes.

I genuinely think the world would be a better place if more of us ate like Bittman recommends. You should check it out.

Recommended.