Matthew Walker

Matthew Walker

Title
Professor of Neuroscience & Psychology
Department
Dept of Psychology
Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
Research Expertise and Interest
sleep
Research Description

See www.humansleepscience.com for a full description of Matthew Walker's research.

In the News

November 4, 2019

Stressed to the max? Deep sleep can rewire the anxious brain

When it comes to managing anxiety disorders, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth had it right when he referred to sleep as the “balm of hurt minds.” While a full night of slumber stabilizes emotions, a sleepless night can trigger up to a 30% rise in anxiety levels, according to new research from UC Berkeley.
June 26, 2019

Disrupted sleep in one’s 50s, 60s raises risk of Alzheimer’s disease

People who report a declining quality of sleep as they age from their 50s to their 60s have more protein tangles in their brain, putting them at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to a new study by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley.
November 6, 2018

Chronically anxious? Deep sleep may take the edge off

Extreme angst is on the rise nationally and globally, especially among teens and millennials. Among other factors, preliminary findings from UC Berkeley sleep researchers point to a chronic lack of deep restorative sleep.
August 14, 2018

Poor sleep triggers viral loneliness and social rejection

Poor sleep can literally kill your social life. UC Berkeley researchers have found that sleep-deprived people feel lonelier and less inclined to engage with others, avoiding close contact in much the same way as people with social anxiety.
July 14, 2015

The sleep-deprived brain can mistake friends for foes

A new UC Berkeley study shows that sleep deprivation dulls our ability to accurately read facial expressions. This deficit can have serious consequences, such as not noticing that a child is sick or in pain, or that a potential mugger or violent predator is approaching.

January 27, 2013

Poor sleep in old age prevents the brain from storing memories

The connection between poor sleep, memory loss and brain deterioration as we grow older has been elusive.  But for the first time, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found a link between these hallmark maladies of old age. Their discovery opens the door to boosting the quality of sleep in elderly people to improve memory.

November 23, 2011

Dream sleep takes sting out of painful memories

They say time heals all wounds, and new research from UC Berkeley indicates that time spent in dream sleep can help. UC Berkeley researchers have found that during the dream phase of sleep, also known as REM sleep, our stress chemistry shuts down and the brain processes emotional experiences and takes the painful edge off difficult memories.

September 23, 2011

Not enough sleep gets in the way of success

Catching z’s can seem overrated when school is demanding, your body is young, and you’re newly on your own. Students, researchers, and health care providers grapple with the whys and hows of sleep.

March 8, 2011

As we sleep, speedy brain waves boost our ability to learn

Scientists have long puzzled over the many hours we spend in light, dreamless slumber. But a new study from UC Berkeley suggests we’re busy recharging our brain’s learning capacity during this traditionally undervalued phase of sleep, which can take up half the night.

November 16, 2010

IRLE's conference on "New Deal/No Deal?"

In the midst of forecasts of continuing economic woes and congressional gridlock, experts gathered recently at UC Berkeley to assess what worked and what didn’t during the Great Depression-inspired New Deal, the Obama administration’s still emerging efforts to ease the Great Recession, and prospects for relief, reform and recovery.

February 22, 2010

An afternoon nap markedly boosts the brain's learning capacity

If you see a student dozing in the library or a co-worker catching 40 winks in her cubicle, don’t roll your eyes. New research from UC Berkeley shows that an hour’s nap can dramatically boost and restore your brainpower. Indeed, the findings suggest that a biphasic sleep schedule not only refreshes the mind, but can make you smarter.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.
June 27, 2019
Diane Samson
People's sleep patterns can predict Alzheimer's pathology in their brains later in life, finds a new study led by psychology and neuroscience professor Matthew Walker. Using data from the longitudinal Berkeley Aging Cohort Study, the researchers found that people whose sleep quality declined during their 50s and 60s tended to have more protein tangles in their brains, raising their risk for Alzheimer's. "This finding may suggest that decreasing sleep duration in mid to late life is significantly associated with an increased risk of late-life Aβ burden, and that a profile of maintained (or even subtle increase) in sleep duration throughout this time period is statistically associated with a reduced predicted risk of Aβ accumulation in late life," the researchers wrote in their report. "If validated in larger longitudinal studies, these sleep-sensitive windows would have the potential to be included in public health recommendations with the goal shifting from a model of late-stage Alzheimer's disease treatment to earlier-life Alzheimer's disease prevention," they added. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources, including Medicine News Line, Daily Mail (UK), and News Live TV.
November 13, 2018
David DiSalvo
Overnight, sleep deprivation triggers anxiety as well as altered brain activity patterns in healthy adults, according to preliminary findings by psychology and neuroscience professor Matthew Walker, director of Berkeley's Center for Human Sleep Science and postdoctoral fellow Eti Ben Simon. It's been known that people with anxiety disorders often have trouble sleeping, but this research reveals that sleep loss can also cause anxiety, suggesting a vicious cycle. "The results [of the research] suggest that sleep therapy could reduce anxiety in non-clinical populations as well as people suffering from panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions," Ben-Simon says. "For healthy people, research shows that one night of recovery sleep brings systems back online and brings anxiety levels back to normal." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Another story on this topic appeared in Washington Post.
November 9, 2018
Laura Sanders
Overnight, sleep deprivation triggers anxiety as well as altered brain activity patterns in healthy adults, according to preliminary findings by psychology and neuroscience professor Matthew Walker, director of Berkeley's Center for Human Sleep Science and postdoctoral fellow Eti Ben Simon. It's been known that people with anxiety disorders often have trouble sleeping, but this research reveals that sleep loss can also cause anxiety, suggesting a vicious cycle. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Another story citing sleep research by Professor Walker appeared in Artsy.