The Sleep-Loss Epidemic

Dr. Matthew Walker, a self-described “sleep diplomat” earned his degree in neuroscience from Nottingham University, UK, and his PhD in neurophysiology from the Medical Research Council, London, UK. He subsequently became a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, USA. Currently, he is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. He is also the founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. His mission today is to solve what he believes to be one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century. He claims every major disease is linked to sleep loss and we are in the midst of a sleep-loss epidemic.

As Dr. Walker was measuring brain activity of dementia patients and looking for early warning signs, he discovered that brain function was best recorded at night, when electrostatic activity was at its greatest. The dementia patients had a very high incidence of sleep disruption and that became the focus of Walker’s research. He states: “blood sugar levels are profoundly affected after just one week of sleep loss; seventy percent of the body’s immunity is lost after just one night of sleeping poorly; and we cannot find a single psychiatric disease that does not entail sleep deprivation.” He is not alone in his thinking…there is such a compelling link between sleep and cancer that the World Health Organization has now classified shift work as a possible carcinogen. According to Walker, people need seven to eight hours of sleep per night both for the mind and for length of life. His new book, “Why We Sleep,” is a New York Times best-seller in which Dr. Walker presents scientific studies from UC San Francisco, Stanford University, and Harvard University concluding that nearly every illness, from cancer to cardiovascular disease, is related to not getting enough shut-eye. For more information go to:


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