Sleep expert Matthew Walker is not a fan of the expression “you can sleep when you’re dead.”
In fact, he calls it “mortally unwise advice.”
“Sleep is Mother Nature’s best effort yet to counter death,” Walker says.
He would know. Walker, who is director of the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science, has been studying sleep for more than 20 years and is the author of a new book, “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.”
Walker’s work centers around a major and often overlooked problem: many Americans are sleep-deprived. One in three U.S. adults report they usually get less than the recommended seven hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This could be harming peoples’ health in myriad ways, Walker said: Insufficient sleep is linked to everything from Alzheimer’s disease to stroke, cancer and even suicide, and it doesn’t take that much lost sleep—just a loss of one hour in one single night.