It’s hard to get good sleep. I got a new puppy this winter (she’s adorable), but wow has my sleep collapsed.
Wouldn’t it be great to figure out how to get better sleep? Sleep longer, stronger, fall asleep faster?
Luckily, there’s Matthew Walker’s The Science of Better Sleep on MasterClass. In his video-based class exclusively on MasterClass, Matthew Walker teaches you how important sleep is, and shows you how to improve your sleep.
Is it any good? Does it work? Read my comprehensive review of Matthew Walker’s MasterClass to find out.
Let’s jump in.
Who is Matthew Walker?
Matthew Walker is a neuroscience professor at UC Berkeley who published the hugely successful book Why We Sleep. It’s an international bestseller where he explains how great sleep can head off a number of dangerous illnesses such as dementia and cancer.
He’s considered the most famous expert on sleep – a perfect “master” for MasterClass.
He’s now brought his teaching over to MasterClass, where his “The Science of Better Sleep” course can help teach you how to have better sleep and why it’s important for your health.
What is MasterClass?
MasterClass is an online education platform where you can take video-based courses taught by some real legends in their fields. Think Gordon Ramsay to teach you cooking. Ron Howard teaches you directing. Helen Mirren (the greatest) teaches you acting.
And with all this high-quality talent, MasterClass’s popularity has been skyrocketing. The caliber of teachers is simply mindblowing.
MasterClass has over 90 classes and 1,000 video lessons for you to take – and they’re rolling out new content all the time.
The content is engaging and binge-worthy. Think of it like Netflix for your brain. Instead of vegging out, you’re learning and improving. Plus, it’s fun.
How much does MasterClass cost?
MasterClass costs $180 through their annual membership. As of this writing, this is the only way to buy access to MasterClass.
You used to be able to buy a class for $90, but that’s no longer the case.
So if you’re in the market to take Matthew Walker’s MasterClass, you’re going to have to buy the MasterClass annual membership. What does that get you?
- Access to all MasterClass classes available on the MasterClass platform
That’s nearly 100 classes and over 1,000 lessons taught by living legends.
- High-quality streaming video for each lesson, available on your mobile device, tablet, or computer.
We’re talking Netflix quality streaming. This isn’t YouTube amateur hour.
- Access to MasterClass discussion boards
Each class has an active discussion board, where students post questions, assignments, and commentary. Definitely worth checking out.
- PDF guides for each course
These can be up to 100 pages long, and you can keep them forever.
Even though you can’t purchase a single course for yourself, let’s take the value of one class at $90.
If you’re going to take two courses in a year (I take at least two a month), then you’re already coming out ahead. And it’s pretty easy to find more great courses. MasterClass is loaded with them.
You can take as many courses as you like (you don’t need to finish one before starting another), allowing you to pop between courses if you find yourself wanting to mix things up. The MasterClass Annual Membership is really centered with the customer in mind.
What is Matthew Walker teaching?
Matthew Walker is teaching you The Science of Better Sleep. It’s comprised of 15 video lessons that take 3 hours and 12 minutes – so a little over 12 minutes a lesson on average.
Accompanying the video lessons is a 24 page PDF guide that has some very helpful sleep tips – like how much caffeine is in your nighttime treats, along with more detailed articles – like “in defense of napping.” It’s a nice guide to accompany the video lessons, which are the main bulk of the course.
So what are the video lessons you’ll learn with Matthew Walker?
- Meet your instructor
- What is sleep?
- How sleep works
- Night owl or morning lark?
- The buzz on alcohol and caffeine
- Prevent sleep debt
- Fire up the brain
- Sleep across our life span
- Overnight therapy
- The absurd act of dreaming
- Sleep and the human body
- Diet and sleep
- Sleep to thrive
- How to sleep better
- Reclaim your sleep
Right off the bat, you can see that Matthew Walker’s MasterClass is information-heavy. This is a class where he’s teaching you what you need to know in order to sleep better. This is not so much of a crafting masterclass, nor a retrospective. This is an informational class, where Matthew Walker instructs you as to the importance of sleep and how to consistently get better sleep.
What’s it like taking Matthew Walker’s MasterClass?
I can’t walk you through every lesson, but I can give you an inside look at three lessons so that you can get a better view of what taking the class is like.
Let’s see what happens, starting at the top.
When you first sign up for Matthew Walker’s MasterClass, you go to the “meet your instructor” lesson – a standard on MasterClass. This is a 5-minute meet-and-greet, where Matthew gives you a little information about himself before jumping into what the course will cover. Standard stuff, but I like how it sets the stage for what’s going to come.
Let’s dive into some lessons.
How Sleep Works
How does sleep work? I didn’t know. You just close your eyes and then … uh?
This is why I took Matthew Walker’s class.
And right off the bat, he helps you understand the mechanics of sleep.
He tells you that from the moment you wake up, your body starts pumping a hormone, called adenosine, into your brain. It makes you sleepy. As the day progresses, you get more adenosine, until you’re so sleepy that it’s time for bed.
Then, when you sleep, the adenosine is removed. It takes your body about 8 hours of sleep to remove all the adenosine. If you don’t get enough sleep, you start the day with more adenosine, making you feel tired.
I didn’t know that. Knowing that made me feel like my body was a lot smarter than I was giving it credit for.
Matthew then goes through your circadian rhythm, the release of melatonin as daylight decreases, and then the pros and cons of melatonin as a sleep aid. It was really helpful to understand how much and at what age melatonin supplements are most beneficial (and how overdoing melatonin can end up backfiring on us).
The last thing he tackled is the ebb and flow that we have between sleeping on the weekdays and on the weekend, and how this shift can cause mayhem on our bodies. His solution? Go to bed at the same time every day.
As someone who now works from home, this is easier than ever!
Prevent Sleep Debt
Sleep debt is the mismatch between your sleep need and how much sleep you’re getting. Sleep debt doesn’t reset each night; if you lose an hour each night, that builds upon itself. You’re building up a higher and higher dose of adenosine in your brain, making you feel sleepier.
Walker calls it “compounding interest” on your brain. And unfortunately, you can’t “pay off” this sleep debt by just getting a bunch of rest on the weekend.
Throughout this lesson, Walker explains the dangers of sleep deprivation, showing that driving after being awake for 22 hours is as dangerous as driving while drunk.
So what can you do to prevent sleep deprivation?
One of the suggestions that Matthew Walker has is to take daytime naps. He then explains how naps can lower blood pressure, improve your memory, and improve your overall health. They’re great for improving your focus and alertness as well!
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Perfect, right? Problem solved?
Not quite! Matthew then explains how naps that are too long or too late in the afternoon can mess up your traditional sleep schedule.
So what is the ideal nap?
15-20 minutes no later than 2 pm.
That’s just the first half of this lesson! Walker follows it up with a great mini-lesson on how to combat jet lag. For you jet-setters out there, this is a great lesson to check out.
Each lesson that Walker teaches is chocked-full of really useful information. It’s almost impossible to jot it all down for this review. You’ll have to check it out for yourself!
The absurd act of dreaming
Matthew Walker starts this class by telling us that, when we dream, we’re flagrantly psychotic.
Though taken aback, his explanation is fascinating. When we dream, we hallucinate, we lose our sense of logic, our emotions run high; we’re basically running through a profound psychosis in our dream state.
Why is that? Why is our logic switching down, while our motor activity, memories, and emotions are all switched on? Why are we in an illogical, bizarre state?
Matthew suggests that it is a form of therapy – as our brain searches out for connections between old memories and new memories in order to help us blunt the pains of current experiences.
Up next, Walker gets into the time effects of dreams – particularly time dilation. If you’ve ever seen Inception, that’s the same concept: that time in the dream can last longer than in real life.
Why is that?
It possibly could be due to the speed at which our brain searches out the connections (which I previously mentioned), but it isn’t certain. He didn’t remain on this topic, which I wished he would have. I guess I’ll have to do some research!
That’s no knocka against Walker; this class touches on so many aspects of dreaming within 3.25 hours that it’s not possible to hit every subject in superfine detail. But it does give you a great foundation, and this lesson isn’t an exception.
Who is Matthew Walker’s MasterClass for?
Matthew Walker’s MasterClass is great for the avid learner. If you’re a sponge for information, you’re going to love this class. Matthew spends the entire MasterClass teaching you the history of sleep, the mechanisms of sleep, and how to sleep better. It’s an exciting, engaging, and thought-provoking class.
If you’re a person who needs better sleep, you’ll also definitely benefit from this MasterClass. Matthew Walker teaches you how to improve your sleep. These are uncomplicated, concrete steps that you can take to help your body sleep more soundly.
He also follows it up with why you need to sleep better (spoiler: for your health), which I found quite motivating.
Lastly, this MasterClass is perfect for anyone who wants to know about dreams. Dreams are mysterious and confusing. So many of us want to know “what did that dream mean? Did it reveal something about me?” Matthew explores the theories behind dreaming in good detail, shedding some light on a confusing aspect of the human experience.
Who is Matthew Walker’s MasterClass not for?
I’m hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t benefit from this class. After all, we all could use some better sleep.
But, if you twist my arm, I’d say that this class wouldn’t be for people who don’t super love learning and lectures. Like I said, this is an information class. It’s not a hands-on class, it’s not a craft class. It’s a lecture class.
The lectures are engaging, but it is heavy on the information. Important information, but heavy nonetheless.
What other MasterClasses can I take like Matthew Walker’s?
There are a few other great, sciency MasterClasses like Matthew Walker’s that you can take today.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a famous astrophysicist and teacher who focuses his MasterClass on teaching you how to discover objective truths. Then, he shows you how to effectively communicate those discoveries.
It’s a little critical thinking crash course – something we all could use a little more of today.
Like Walker, Tyson is a charming and engaging teacher, who helps you get absorbed into the material. It’s 13 lessons long and about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The next class is Chris Hadfield teaches Space Exploration.
Chris Hadfield, former commander of the International Space Station, walks you through a jaw-dropping 7 hours and 47-minute class comprised of 29 lessons. It’s a behemoth! He explains the mechanics behind rockets, spacewalks, and even living on Mars. It’s an exciting and imaginative course!
Matthew Walker MasterClass: Pros and Cons
With every class I review, there were a lot of things I loved and a few things I wish were better. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t break them down for you.
I always like to start with the pros. With this course, there were definitely more pros than cons. Let’s take a look!
There’s a ton of information
This is the biggest pro. Matthew Walker delivers truckloads of key information about sleep, its benefits, and how to get more of it. He delivers it in an engaging manner and kept me coming back for each lesson.
You can implement his teachings
Matthew doesn’t only teach theory; he gives you real tools that you can use (tonight!) to get the best sleep of your life. I loved this. He marries the theoretical and the practical. It really made me feel like I got my money’s worth.
The dream lessons are mind-blowing
Every time Walker talked about dreaming, my head felt like it exploded. He just kept blowing my mind with awesome and reality-shifting truths about our dreams, how we dream, and why we dream. I loved it.
Matthew’s got a great voice
Damn. He’s got a really slick British accent.
There weren’t a lot of cons to this MasterClass, but I’ll share with you what I wish were different.
Some topics aren’t fully covered
There were a few times when I got really into a topic, only for Matthew Walker to move on to the next. I wish that the class had been a tiny bit more in-depth, but it definitely piqued my curiosity.
I wanted more material
This was a great course. But when there were moments that Walker didn’t elaborate on, I realized that the course itself could have been expanded. I think this course easily could have another 2 hours’ worth of fascinating material added in. MasterClass, if you’re listening, give us an expansion pack!
Is it worth it?
Matthew Walker’s MasterClass is a comprehensive and engaging examination of the science of sleep, how we sleep, why we sleep, and how we can sleep better. It touches on dreams, napping, the influence of caffeine + alcohol, and how aging changes our sleep cycles.
For me, this MasterClass was absolutely worth it. I learned a ton of exciting information about sleep and dreams, and I am excited to implement his techniques in my own sleep schedule.
If you’re an intellectually curious person or someone who’s just looking for a better night’s sleep, then you owe it to yourself to check out this MasterClass by Matthew Walker.
You’ll certainly sleep soundly afterward!