Sleep is so critical to everyday life.
The difference between getting a good night’s sleep and not getting enough can be the difference between having a happy, productive day and one where you feel like a zombie from start to finish.
But there are so many things stopping us from getting good sleep these days that the battle to go to bed gets harder and harder every day.
That’s why the latest addition to the MasterClass learning platform intrigued me so much — The Science of Better Sleep by sleep expert Matthew Walker.
As soon as the class came out, I dove right into it (in the hopes of improving my own shaky relationship with good sleep), since it was already free with my MasterClass All Access.
Here’s my full review of the entire Matthew Walker “The Science of Better Sleep” MasterClass: what it’s all about, what you can expect to learn from it, and whether it’s worth your time.
You’re probably wondering: What is MasterClass?
Before you get stuck into the Matthew Walker MasterClass review, you might be wondering what exactly MasterClass is.
Well, there’s an easy way to understand them: They’re the Netflix of online education.
Because they’ve literally got the world’s most famous instructors teaching their expertise.
For example, Timbaland teaches producing and beat making, Alicia Keys teaches songwriting, Natalie Portman teaches acting, Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches scientific thinking and communication, deadmau5 teaches electronic music, and so much more (really, there are nearly 50 courses all together).
What separates Masterclass from other online education courses isn’t just the famous names. It’s the quality of the videos. They’re incredible.
You can easily binge-watch them all day. They’re easy-to-watch and you can actually learn valuable skills while you’re watching them.
In my opinion, I’ve found MasterClass more engaging and useful for my brain than binge-watching Netflix all day.
How much does MasterClass cost?
If you want to consume just one class, it will set you back $90.
But MasterClass also offers an All-Access Pass that gives you unlimited access to every class for $180 per year.
They’ve also got a money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied within 30 days, you can get a full refund.
I have the All-Acess Pass option as I originally signed up for the writing courses. It’s completely up to you though, obviously.
Alright so enough about what MasterClass is. Let’s talk about the course you’re interested in:
Why I Decided to Check Out the Matthew Walker MasterClass
Most of my life is spent online. I work online, I communicate with most of my peers online, and several of my hobbies are online, like streaming on Netflix, downloading books, and playing video games.
I’m a 21st-century millennial, and I barely remember a time when the internet wasn’t entangled in every aspect of my life.
And that means I’m also a prime candidate for the sleep disorders plaguing the world these days.
I’ve had trouble sleeping for maybe the last decade, with insomnia starting in my first year of college and following me on and off until the present.
Thankfully, my bad sleeping isn’t as bad as it once was, when I was working until passing out at 5 in the morning and waking up in the afternoon.
With the help of melatonin supplements and consistent exercise, I’ve been able to achieve some semblance of regular sleep.
But even then, I know I’m always just one or two bad nights away from spending several weeks with irregular sleeping. My hold on a healthy sleeping schedule is fragile at best.
That’s why I was pretty excited when I first heard that sleep expert Matthew Walker was releasing a MasterClass on the Science of Better Sleep.
Not only did I already have a MasterClass All Access Pass (meaning I could go through this MasterClass for free!), but I’d also followed Matthew Walker in the past, reading his articles on tips on how to get better sleep.
There are few experts more qualified than him to tell people how to fix their sleep.
It didn’t take long for me to binge through this MasterClass and learn everything Matthew had to teach, because I’m long past the point of admitting the fact that I have a TERRIBLE problem when it comes to my sleep.
I hate that I can’t rely on myself to sleep well consistently, because I know just how much of an impact a bad night of sleep can have on my life — my work, my exercise, my productivity, and even my general mood.
In short, this MasterClass is exactly what I needed: a compilation of all the best sleeping insights from possibly the world’s leading sleeping expert.
What Matthew Walker’s MasterClass Is All About
I’ve recommended this MasterClass to a few friends who I know have had trouble sleeping, and I’ve gotten a few replies along the lines of, “Why do I need to study sleep? I just close my eyes and pass out, it’s as simple as that.”
But it’s really not as easy as that, at least not in the 21st century.
With so many distractions, so many obligations, so many artificial lights, and sounds and things keeping us up at night, the mind and body just can’t naturally fall asleep as easily as it once could.
We now need to actively work towards understanding what makes sleep good sleep, and how we can achieve sleep without relying on medications and sleep aids.
And that’s what this MasterClass is all about: improving the way you sleep.
In short, Matthew Walker’s MasterClass is exactly what it says: it’s about the science of better sleep.
The ultimate in this MasterClass is to improve the student’s understanding of sleep — getting students to understand that sleep is a vital, critical part of so much of the way you live — and consequently helping them implement the necessary changes in their lives to consistently achieve the sleep they need.
Matthew Walker teaches students everything they need to know about sleep, including:
- The mechanics behind sleep
- Why sleep is so vital to our mind and body
- Why sleep is harder to get than ever before
- Why more and more people are suffering from sleeping disorders
- The things you can do to make sure you get good sleep
To give you an idea of the kind of stuff students learn in this MasterClass, here are just a few of Matthew’s simple yet crucial sleeping tips:
- Don’t exercise late: While it’s important to exercise to help with your sleep, you shouldn’t do it within 3 hours of your bedtime, as it can keep your body “awake” when it should be asleep
- Avoid napping after 3pm: 3pm should be your deadline for afternoon naps. While naps are a great way to give yourself a boost of energy, any naps after 3pm can be counterproductive to your full sleep later that night
- Give yourself a hot bath before you sleep: Your body needs a drop in temperature to truly fall asleep, and one way to do that is by raising your temperature with a hot bath. This forces the body to cool down on the inside to balance with the heat, thus making it easier to fall asleep
- Schedule in time to unwind before bedtime: One reason why we have difficulty falling asleep is that we expect to pass out as soon as we hit the sack for bedtime. But the mind always needs some time to unwind and shut off, away from any screens or gadgets. Schedule in a few minutes before your desired bedtime to power down
- Soak in enough sun every day: An easy way to regulate your sleeping patterns is by giving yourself at least thirty minutes of sun exposure a day. Without this, the circadian rhythm can find itself struggling to stay consistent
Who Is Matthew Walker Science of Better Sleep MasterClass for?
If you’re reading this article, then it probably means you have trouble sleeping, which means the Science of Better Sleep MasterClass is made for you.
It has never been harder to get a good night’s sleep. We live in a world that is “on” 24 hours a day.
With working from home, jobs going digital, and countless forms of entertainment at the touch of a button, the walls between “waking time” and “sleeping time” have totally disappeared, and you’re always just a few bad decisions from finding yourself sleep-deprived and exhausted.
Sleep plays a role in every single thing we do, and the secret to getting the most out of life is by maximizing our good sleep.
But more and more people fail to do this, with one in three adults lacking sleep, 1 in 4 Americans developing insomnia every year, and countless people finding themselves trapped in irregular sleep patterns.
The Science of Better Sleep MasterClass by Matthew Walker is made for you if:
- You live in almost a permanent state of insomnia
- You bounce between phases of sleeping well and sleeping erratically
- You can’t remember the last time you had a good night’s rest
- You want to understand the science behind sleep — the stages of sleep, the parts of the brain working during sleep, and more
- You have terrible, seemingly unbreakable habits preventing you from getting proper rest
- You are sick of your unhealthy relationship with sleep and you’re ready for change
- You sincerely want to fix the way you sleep
An important thing that anyone jumping into this MasterClass has to remember is that sleep is not simple.
It might seem simple — all you have to do is make sure you get 7-8 hours night of sleep every night — but there are countless factors leading up to whether you can properly get a full night’s sleep, whether the hours you spend sleeping are actually effective sleeping hours, and whether you’ve made the right adjustments in your life to fit those hours efficiently.
Getting good sleep is key for your health and productivity, and if you’re not in a place where you accept that sleep is perhaps the most important thing towards improving your life, then you might not be ready for this MasterClass.
The things Matthew Walker’s teaches in this class have to be implemented wholeheartedly if you want to see lasting change in the way you sleep.
What Makes Matthew Walker the Perfect Mentor?
Sleep issues are so familiar that it has become a democratized subject.
Any person who has understood REM mechanics can easily provide advice as if they were the world’s best sleeping expert.
This leads to conflicting information on how to optimize sleep.
As I mentioned earlier, Matthew Walker is an actual sleep scientist, not some guru who’s experimented on what works best for him.
What you get from the Masterclass is a condensed list of tips and tricks born from years of studying sleep with the most advanced brain scanning tools.
As a researcher, he has his roots in neurosciences, specifically neuropsychology and psychiatry. He is the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science which studies how sleep impacts human health and disease using imaging scans.
Here Matthew has uncovered a trove of actual data on cognitive testing, brain stimulation, EEG recordings, and other definitive evidence on the effects of sleep to the human brain.
It’s safe to say that Matthew Walker is one of the best instructors to learn sleep from.
One of the best ways to get to know Matthew Walker as an instructor and a scientist is by reading his New York Times bestseller Why We Sleep Unlocking The Power of Sleep and Dreams.
Here Matthew provides a 360 understanding of sleep: from the moment we close our eyes to the minute we open them.
He weaves a compelling narrative on sleep and its effects on cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other potential comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity.
One of the most interesting insights you’ll find is how he reconfigures our understanding of sleep.
Instead of thinking of it as an equal pillar to diet and exercise, it’s actually a foundation on which the two are based on.
So essentially getting good sleep allows you to set yourself up for success with the other two important pillars of quality living.
Everything You Get With Matthew Walker’s MasterClass
As with other MasterClasses, Matthew Walker’s is broken down into lessons.
The deliverables are more or less the same with most of the other courses on the platform.
Here’s exactly what you can expect when you sign up for The Science of Sleep:
- 15 video lessons totalling a run time of about 3 hours and 12 minutes
- A workbook PDF to help you synthesize the lessons from the class
- Easy access to audio-only lessons which is a really great option if you want to listen to it idly in the background
- Digital access across all your devices, including your desktop, phone, and TV
Here’s a breakdown of every class included in the lesson plan:
Meet Your Instructor: An introduction to Matthew Walker and his teaching style. Here he’ll give you a brief overview of sleep and what to expect in his class. This is a good way to gauge whether you should strap in for the rest of the lessons or skip ahead to the topic that interests you the most. I recommend going through it chronologically though.
What Is Sleep?: The fundamentals of sleep mechanics through REM and NREM. Here you’ll understand the difference between the two and how these two phases of sleep affect your brain.
How Sleep Works: The body’s 24-hour clock and what happens to it before you head to bed.
Night Owl or Morning Lark?: The night owl and how it might be a natural rhythm for some people. Here he gives advice on how to make the most of sleep based on your circadian rhythm.
The Buzz on Alcohol and Caffeine: The truth behind alcohol and caffeine, how they affect your sleep, and tips on how to optimize your sleep even after consuming these substances.
Prevent Sleep Debt: Chronic sleep deprivation and what we can and cannot do to “repay” nights of lost sleep.
Fire Up the Brain: Cognitive and physical effects of poor sleep on problem solving, creativity, and learning. This part of the class offers great insight as to why you should actually care about the quality of your sleep.
Sleep Across Our Life Span: How sleep has changed and evolved with us over time, and how life events come to affect our quality of sleep. The more exciting part comes when Matthew Walker discusses sleep and its direct relationship with an increased risk of developing diseases.
Overnight Therapy: The power of sleep to improve our emotional and physical wellbeing.
The Absurd Act of Dreaming: A deeper understanding of dreams and how they benefit our brains, both when asleep and awake.
Sleep and the Human Body: How sleep can be used to boost your immune system to fight against common flus and illnesses.
Diet and Sleep: The relationship between sleep and food, and how each variable affects the other.
Sleep to Thrive: Harnessing sleep to boost your physical and mental performance. He provides an interesting take on how to optimize your body just by getting a better night’s sleep.
How to Sleep Better: Actionable tips and tricks to improve your sleep and get the best rest of your life, every single night.
Reclaim Your Sleep: A concluding message on why sleep is such an important subject and why we as a society should capitalize on its benefits and its impact across all facets of existence.
Is Matthew Walker’s MasterClass Worth It?
Matthew Walker’s MasterClass is part lecture and part sleep therapy.
It provides a good balance of actionable tips you can follow and the theory behind sleep and its mechanics.
I feel like this MasterClass couldn’t have done any better.
At most, I have a surface-level understanding of sleep but I obviously didn’t have the confidence in what I knew. But Matthew Walker’s MasterClass changed that.
Throughout his classes, you’ll be exposed to actual scientific data he’s gathered and studied throughout the years.
So you’re not just getting maybes when it comes to sleep science; you’re getting definitive proof and generalizations coming from years of research and experimentation.
And I think his data-backed explanations make the MasterClass more than anything else because it’s so hard to see past the theoretical importance of sleep.
Sure, we easily tell ourselves to prioritize sleep but it’s just as easy to break that and stay up for the next couple of weeks.
The importance of sleep almost feels like an optional prescription rather than a hard medical fact.
This MasterClass definitely grounds that feeling and makes sleep feel as important as it should have always been.
Coming out of the other side, I do have a much better understanding of sleep. I generally feel like I have a better understanding of myself.
I know that poor sleep does have effects on your cognitive ability, but it was only until after finishing the MasterClass did I actually start seeing it for myself.
That’s probably another thing you start to experience after going through Matthew Walker’s The Science of Sleep: you now know what to look out for in terms of sleep deprivation symptoms.
At this point it boils down to the most important thing: has this MasterClass actually improved my sleep?
I’m honestly shocked to say that it did.
While I was already into exercise and melatonin, a more thorough understanding of sleep science and its impact on the body renewed my relationship with sleep.
My actions regarding sleep are more mindful and conscious in that I actively make time for my life to prioritize sleep instead of treating it as an afterthought.
Needless to say, you won’t magically have the best sleep in your life after finishing the MasterClass — you actually have to work through it.
Throughout the course, Matthew Walker provides great insights on how to optimize your downtime and it’s up to you to follow it.
Overall, this MasterClass was definitely interesting.
Even for people who don’t have sleep problems, it’s still worth getting into the class just for the amount of information that you learn. That alone makes it worth it.
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