Why you should read Why We Sleep

I recently finished reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD, and, while I'm hesitant to use the term "life-changing" if only because I just finished it, it was certainly eye-opening. I'll go so far as to say it's the best non-fiction book I've read this decade. I'll also say that you should immediately buy it and read it. 

I've always prided myself on my ability to operated on minimal sleep when necessary. I remember staying up for 72 hours straight when working and moving to a new home at the same time. I've stayed out til near dawn and then made it to work on time more often than I can remember. 

It turns out that this was a very, very bad idea and I'm pretty mad at myself right now.

I'd always known that sleep was important, but important in a vague sense, without any clear idea of the benefits beyond "not feeling sleepy anymore". That's exactly what this book brings to the table: The benefits of sleep. And whoa, are there a lot of them. So many that Aetna pays it's employees bonuses to get enough sleep. An insurance company thinks it's important enough that they will save money by doing this. Let that one settle for a bit.

The bottom line is that you can't really be considered healthy if you aren't getting enough sleep. Your immune system is harmed, you're more susceptible to cancer (!), you don't work as well, either in terms of creativity or quantity, you're unsafe behind the wheel, you lose your memories, you can't control your emotions, and....well, it's an awfully long list. 

The most heartbreaking parts are the sections on the effect of sleep loss on development, both pre- and post-natal and through the teenage years. And, unfortunately, you never catch up on sleep. Miss sleep and the you never get back what you've lost.

This is an informative book rather than one of "hard" science. It's accessible, and, if it gets a little repetitive with the litany against the dangers of sleep loss, it's well-written and never gets dull.  There's not very much in the way of math and the charts are pretty simple, so I didn't get lost the way I do reading, say, Hawking.

You may already be familiar with all of the information contained in Why We Sleep. I wasn't, and I bet some of you aren't either. I strongly commend this book. It has the potential to make your life better in concrete ways, and how many books can you say that about?


Because you demanded it! The Marxist in his most thrilling team up EVER!

I remember playing City of Heroes when it first came out. I'm not sure I've ever purchased a game which took me longer to get from "installation" to "playing." That's not because the learning curve was steep or the installation was buggy or there were a gazillion updates and configuration settings to apply. No, it took me forever to get into City of Heroes because the character generation was just that good.

When it comes to superheroes, look is everything. The look is even more important than the powers. There a plenty of heroes who don't even have powers but their look is so overwhelming that it doesn't matter. If there's one thing a superhero game absolutely, positively must have, it's that ability to make your hero look exactly the way you want them to look.

My favorite hero, the one I played the most, was a black man wearing camo pants, combat boots, a white t-shirt with a bomb on the front, gold sunglasses, and a red beret. The Marxist used to spout slightly-altered lines from The Communist Manifesto as he pummelled bad guys into submission. The game had the tools to let you create your vision of your hero and then execute them in a way that surpasses any game I've played to-date.

Unfortunately, the rest of the game wasn't up to snuff and I wound up cancelling my account. Maybe if I'd stuck with it I'd have found some content that interested me, but it had turned into an endless, repetative grind. Despite that, it remains a guilty pleasure in my memory. It delivered one of the best start-of-game experiences I've ever had.

I took DC Universe Online out for a spin, but I just couldn't get into it. Aside from the fact that the game felt as though it'd been developed for a console, it the character generation was just dreadful. It didn't come close to the options available in CoH. Sure, you could set you exact muscle mass and alter your eyebrow angles, but in the end, you all pretty much looked the same. Bah.

I bring this up because the estemeed Mr. Chuck Wendig provides some of the most evil (and evocative) fiction-writing prompts I've ever seen, and this week's prompt has me cackling with delight. I'm not sure exactly where I'm going to go with it, but it's an opportunity to bring The Marxist back to life.

Thank you, Mr. Wendig. And the rest of you? You've been warned...


It has occurred to me that my stories, here and elsewhere, have a fatal flaw:  I shy away from delivering the punch at the critical time.  This more than likely is due to these stories being intensely personal, but if I'm going to write about these events, I need to do it right. 

Revisions soon.