11 May 2024

Review: Hello Sleep by Jade Wu

Hello Sleep - The Science And Art Of Overcoming Insomnia Without Medications by Jade Wu book cover

Do you suffer from insomnia? Are you a night owl? A light or heavy sleeper? I've always enjoyed reading or hearing about the many factors that contribute to a good night's sleep. Author Jade Wu is a behavioural sleep medicine specialist and researcher and I can safely say Hello Sleep - The Science And Art Of Overcoming Insomnia Without Medications has much to offer the many insomniacs watching their clocks and tossing and turning as I write this.

My key takeaway from the book is this: whether you fall asleep easily tonight comes down to where you are on the sleep drive versus arousal equation.

Sleep drive - or homeostatic sleep drive - is essentially your body's hunger for sleep, also called sleep pressure. You can build sleep drive by being awake and you can increase sleep drive by being physically and mentally active while you're awake. Put another way, sleep drive is:
"The sleepiness you deposit into your sleep drive piggy bank during the day and use to buy quality sleep at night." Page 94
However, sleep drive is only one part of the equation, the second is arousal. Essentially, arousal is akin to being razzed up, and can be physical, mental or emotional. Arousal works directly against sleep drive and we've all experienced this. Our minds might be racing after an argument with someone or before an important work meeting, holiday or interview. Or, we might experience negative thought patterns that fuel our arousal and make it impossible to turn our brains off or physically relax enough for our body to take over and fall asleep.

Thankfully we can take some control back and Wu steps us through her Hello Sleep program, providing explanations along the way to help readers understand what's happening in their bodies and what to do to change existing sleep patterns.

Narrated by Susannah Mars, there were plenty of helpful facts along the way, and previous learnings I enjoyed rediscovering here, like this one:
"A healthy adult of about thirty-five to sixty-five years old wakes about ten to sixteen times per night, though they don't remember most of these brief awakenings." Page 21
I read Hello Sleep by Jade Wu at the same time as watching Michael Mosley's new documentary Australia's Sleep Revolution with Dr Michael Mosley on SBS. The information contained in the 3 episode documentary reinforced much of Wu's content and vice versa, and I can highly recommend the program.

I experience regular sleep issues related to chronic pain so I was very interested in the chapter entitled Other Medical and Psychiatric Conditions That Affect Sleep:
"When it comes to sleep, it's not a pretty picture: those with chronic pain tend to have worse sleep by every measure, and a majority have insomnia. It's not hard to imagine why: it's difficult to find a comfortable position, the pain is distracting, and the body and brain are generally more stressed, causing hyperarousal. This is an unfortunate vicious cycle because having worse sleep can also exacerbate pain by increasing inflammation and perception of pain, as well as making it harder to emotionally cope with pain during the day." Page 304-305
I felt really seen by the author, who goes on to explain that the Hello Sleep program still applies and that there's plenty within your control that you can do to improve your sleep quality, regardless of any medical conditions you may have.

Hello Sleep - The Science And Art Of Overcoming Insomnia Without Medications by Jade Wu is recommended for anyone wanting to understand and improve their own sleep quality, or that of a loved one.

My Rating:

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