According to The Statistics Brain Research Institute, over 40 million people in the U.S. struggle with a chronic sleeping disorder.  Insomnia impacts 70 million people while 18 million have sleep apnea.  Visiting the page on sleeping disorder statistics shows many more facts such as how much loss of sleep costs in productivity and how many car crashes are believed to be from driver fatigue.  I was surprised to see that nearly 40% of people reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the past 30 days.  I have chronic insomnia and I read this book looking for some answers so that I can fall alseep easier, wake up more refreshed, and have more daily energy.

   This is a serious epidemic!

First off, who is Shawn Stevenson?  Shawn’s biography says that he grew up in a supportive suburban environment but later got involved in dangerous activities and drugs.  He earned a Bachelor’s Degree through hard work and scholarship assistance, but in college he was diagnosed degenerative disc disease at the age of 20 where he was in constant pain and was losing bodily function and the ability to be independent.  With a bleak prognosis, he stopped believing that there wasn’t anything that can be done and instead he embarked on a journey to learn everything about human health and the body. He changed his diet, exercised, lost weight, and the pain disappeared. He now dedicates his life to helping others achieve wellness and reach their maximum potential. He writes books, articles, presents at events, and does regular podcasts and he is the creator of the Model Health Show which has millions of listeners each year.  Learn more by visiting Shawn Stevenson’s website.

Now, on to the review….

The first think I like about Shawn is that he seems to share his content very openly.  Case in point, this article on his website pretty much gives away the 21 tips in his book and even provides a brief description of each technique.  Now, I haven’t lined them up one by one, but I did read the book and it seems like they are all there.  His model of giving information away freely seems to be working for him, but yet there is always more.  If you wanted to hear about the statistics behind the topic, then you can read the book for a more intellectual discussion.  If you wanted to hear guest speaker’s comment or more personal stories from Shawn’s life, then tune into the podcast.  He presents the same information in a variety of ways which makes it accessible to the largest audience possible.  According to the article, these are the 21 strategies that lead to better sleep.

  • Train hard (but smart)
  • Get your “friends” out of your room
  • Have a high protein, low carb snack close to bed time
  • No glove, no love (for your feet)
  • You booze, you lose
  • Calm inner-chatter
  • Supplementation
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith glasses
  • Be  early to rise
  • Get grounded
  • Know the value of sleep
  • Get more sunlight during the day
  • Avoid the screen
  • Use a blue light blocker
  • Have a caffeine curfew
  • Be cool
  • Get to bed at the right time
  • Use high quality magnesium
  • Get it blacked out
  • Create a sleep sanctuary
  • Have a big “O”

Now we are down to the brutal part. There is nothing new here. This is common-sense advice that we all pretty much know we should follow – but don’t. A quick Google search of “sleep tips” would probably have given you the same strategies in this book that are widely regarded as common sense. Stop drinking caffeine earlier in the day, block out the light, have sex, get off your cell phones, these are all things we know. Other strategies are more obscure and some of the claims are not backed by science. When I read other reviews on Audible or Amazon, there were numerous five star reviews that screamed “FAKE” to me. In fact, most of the reviews are a solid 5 stars which seems odd for any book, but more so for one that is very polarized, which makes me think fake. There is no way that intelligent audiences unequivocally loved this book.

“Game Changer!!! Now on audio?!?! You bet I am purchasing. I have the book, of course, but this is gold and should be a mandate gift for your loved one.”

I’m not sure I buy it. Too much enthusiasm for a book he or she already owns just because it’s available on Audible now? Especially for a book that spent a lot of real estate pushing other products aimed at selling you more. This probably belongs in his podcasts where he can sell all his products more effectively along with his charming personality.

My main problem with this book was that it cited anecdotal evidence as fact and used a lot of pseudoscience, like “earthing” or “grounding” which has not been proven scientifically sound. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a treatment to cure inflammation or insomnia by touching the Earth. Shawn sites the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine as a source. I personally have been an insomniac my entire life and spent much of my childhood barefoot outside and I didn’t sleep any better back then than I do now (granted, my own anecdotal evidence is no more scientific than Shawn’s is). This book discusses the effects of amelioration of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and the inclusion of non-validated evidence makes me wonder how researched the other topics are. There is mention of circadian rhythms but nothing about delayed phase or advanced phase sleep disorder. Sources sited are from mainstream places like The Huffington Post and Life Hacker, and Shawn often sites his own website and data as evidence.

The forward of the book is from an MD but there is very little medical evidence cited in the content of the book. Now because I have the audio book and not the physical book, maybe I am missing out on the citations that could have been with the bonus material. The author talks a lot about his debilitating degenerative disk disease and how he changed his life at a young age and became healthy. I don’t discount his personal experience, but I would like to see pictures. I think author’s these days feel like they need a “rags to riches” tale to give them credibility and I hate it when I feel it is used unnecessarily.

If you got the book at the library or yard sale without the “code” then you don’t get access to the in-depth material he continues to talk about.  While I was interested in the 14 day sleep plan, it turns out that it is also information that is available online for free. It appears to be a Cognitive Behavioral Program.

One reviewer on Amazon recommended “The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program Developed at Harvard Medical School” by Gregg D. Jacobs and “The Insomnia Workbook: A comprehensive Guide to Getting the Sleep You need” by Stephanie Silberman. I have not read those books but they are now on my list. I am already impressed by the book that came out of Harvard. It seems like it would be backed by sound scientific principles.

One reviewer on Amazon wrote under the title “I found the author to be self-promoting

“The issue I have with the book is the education level of the author and the plugging of his website and podcast throughout. This author presents himself as an expert in this field, but he has no scientific degree, and no advanced degree at all. I don’t feel that he has the credentials to be offering this type of advice. He is very self-promoting in the book and tries to drive traffic to his podcast and website.”

Overall, if you know very little about why you can’t sleep and have no common-sense, then this book is for you.  If you’ve tried everything you can think of and are at your wits end and want to get to the root of the matter, this book is not scientific enough and doesn’t have any amazing insights.