The Value and Need of a Good Night ’s Sleep – Book

“Night Owls and Early Birds” by Philippa Gander, published by Auckland University Press. Price $39.99. Reviewed by Tony Orman.

Circadian Rhythms are an adaption to Earth’s daily rotation and they occur in all cell-based life forms on our planet writes Philippa Gander, professor emeritus at Massey University and an internationally recognised scholar of sleep and circadian rhythms, in her preface in her newly published book “Night Owls and Early Birds.”
Professor Philippa Gander specialises in sleep and circadian rhythms. Within this intriguing book on sleep and the need for it, is a strong message for shift workers and the likes of farmers, at times working long hours into the night.
But humans mistakenly tend to think that they can separate their lives from Earth’s natural cycles.
“We may be paying a high price for overlooking the innate rhythmicity of life on Earth” and believing that sleep is an ‘off time’ that can be sacrificed for  a busy waking life says Philippa Gander. 
The “busy-ness” of today’s world is clearly at odds with the importance of sleep.
 “Modern lifestyles are clearly having adverse effects on our safety, health and well-being because they generate conflict with our innate circadian time-keeping system, compounded by our failure to value sleep,” writes the author.
There is “a failure to value sleep.”
The book details studies to back concepts up and refute myths. For instance a US Nurse’s Health Study which began in 1976 and to date has included over 280,000 nurses, gives a stark warning. It compared over time, the health of nurses who work at least three nights per month with nurses who do not work nights.
After five years, nurses working nights have significantly higher mortality rates from all causes and from cardiovascular disease. After 15 years, they are more likely to have died from lung cancer, to have had a stroke or to have developed colorectal cancer.
A Danish Nurse Cohort study also followed nurses working night and evening shifts compared with those working day shifts only.
Nurses working night shifts have an increased risk of developing diabetes and are at an increased risk of dying from cardiovasular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimers disease and other types of dementia.
With its 131 pages the text has a mix of diagrams, graphs and black and white photos to complement an absorbing read.
In other words the book delivers a stark warning to anyone giving up on a night’s sleep to get more out of their busy waking hours.
This book is a timely wakeup call to a world just simply too busy and getting busier. Highly recommended. 

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