Sleep Smarter Book Review


When I last posted here, it was to share my 2017 reading plan and list. Things have been quiet since then as I've been dealing with other, higher priority items in my life. The good news is, even though I wasn't posting, I was reading and making progress on the reading list. I'm still just a bit behind schedule, but catching up fast - partly thanks to the first book on the reading list. That first book was Sleep Smarter and this is my brief review of it.


Before I get into the book itself, a little background about why I put it at the top of the list. Over the past couple years I've made a lot of changes in my life, especially to my diet and activity levels, becoming a marathon runner in the process. While I'm always going through materials about how to train better and how to eat better, I realized an area I was neglecting was my sleep. Like most people, I imagine I do not get nearly enough of it and the quality of the sleep I do get was probably questionable. So I felt like starting with improving my sleep would help me improve in other areas of my life. I'm still working on incorporating the changes recommended in Sleep Smarter, but I think I can tell a difference already. If nothing else, I definitely am getting more reading done at night (more on that later).

Sleep Smarter is divided up into two parts. The first takes about 80% of the book and the author, Shawn Stevenson, goes over 21 strategies that he believes will help you live a better life by getting better sleep. The last part of the book describes a 2-week plan to ramp up and incorporate the strategies described in the book.

I was a bit skeptical when I bought the book about how I would like it. However, I found Stevenson's writing style to be excellent with nice touches of humor mixed in with the material. For me, it was a fairly easy, quick read (unlike Mindset which I am still plodding through).

Each chapter is made up of a description of the particular strategy, the basis for the recommendation, frequent challenges to implementation, and expected impact of the change. That is followed by a set of "power tips" which basically summarize the key steps one needs to take to implement any particular strategy.

The strategies themselves run the gamut from concepts you may be familiar with, like minimizing the impact of "blue light" to some more esoteric items like using a magnesium cream each night. At times I felt like the strategies had a bit of a "new age-ish" feel to them. However, Stevenson does provide supporting information in the form of studies and research that purports to back up the claims made regarding the recommendations. I did not bother checking these myself.

One of the things that came through from the book and Stevenson's recommendations is that getting better sleep is more than a few tweaks to how one sleeps. Instead, it consists of making some lifestyle changes. For instance, one of his recommendations has to do with making changes to your eating patterns and diet to minimize the impact of sleep-inducing carbs during the day or cutting off caffeine early in the day so it does not impact your sleep (way earlier than I would have thought). Likewise, not eating within two hours before bedtime is a change he recommends which happens to segue with similar recommendations for weight loss (so good for me!), although I find that very hard to stick to.

Another set of changes revolves around the whole winding down routine at night. One key is to turn off the TV screens and computers and smartphones at least two hours before bed. That is a bit of a struggle for me, though I've done a pretty good job with it. He recommends filling that time with other activities, so I have taken to reading. Which is why I am quickly catching up on my reading plan!

I cannot comment too much on the latter portion of the book as I started implementing changes as soon as I read about them. If you wait,  the two-week ramp-up plan may be useful. I'm still implementing bits and pieces, with the most recent being the launch of a sleep journal to start tracking my sleep quality.

As you may know from my post about the reading list, the books that are on the list were added via a variety of recommendations. In turn, I'd like to give Sleep Smarter my own positive recommendation. I'm glad I read it and I've enjoyed not only implementing the strategies but the positive impact it has had on things like my energy level throughout the day.

Final verdict: recommended!

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