Why we sleep, dreamland and tips to fight insomnia

As much as I love my sleep (see When I sleep, “my brain grows” so please let it be), I – like many others – can sometimes not get to sleep.

This New Yorker article, Why We Sleep, and Why We Often Can’tDoes our contemporary obsession with sleep obscure what makes it special in the first place?, quotes Matthew Walker and his 2017 book, “Why We Sleep”:

insomnia, strictly defined, is a clinical disorder most commonly associated with an overactive sympathetic nervous system, and it is triggered, typically, by worry and anxiety. 

Chronic insomnia, a condition that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, currently afflicts some forty million Americans, is not really caused by coffee and Facebook, although it may certainly be aggravated by these things.


Dreams help us to master new skills; practicing a task or a language in our sleep can be as helpful as doing so when we are awake; dreams help us to synthesize new pieces of information with preëxisting knowledge, and to make creative lateral connections. There is a means by which we can harness the visionary and problem-solving capacities of dreaming: the lucid dream.

“Those who master lucidity,” Robb writes, “can dream about specific problems, seek answers or insights, stage cathartic encounters, and probe the recesses of the unconscious.” 


Brainpicking already covered The Science of Lucid Dreaming and How to Learn to Control Your Dreams, Animated here. Yeap it is possible to train yourself to control your dreams!

And The Science of Dreams and Why We Have Nightmares:

Dreams are far from surreal wonderlands where our imaginations roam wildly – they are explorations of our mundane concerns, recast in a light only slightly removed from reality #dreamland

I can totally relate to this definition given how my dreams seem to collate anecdotes of the day and places in such a random manner (which makes them hilariously absurd).


The excellent 99% invisible podcast The Shipping forecast shares how the BBC announcer Peter Jefferson became the most sought after audio to help people fall asleep. I actually launched the 5-hour YouTube videos and fell for the soothing voice

You can augment it with the 10 Most Relaxing Songs in the World, According to Science,… And from FastCo, here’s What happened when I tried the U.S. Army’s tactic to fall asleep in two minutes

I was also glad to finally read that you don’t have to get up at 4am to be successful: 5 CEOs who wake up after 10Blame your chronotype (see my previous blog on this and social jet lag) the next time you’re late to a morning meeting. Late-riser advocacy group B-Society is pushing for workplace changes.