This MasterClass taught me how to sleep better, even while dealing with a lot of stress

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Understanding The Science of Sleep Helped Me Get A Good Night’s Rest 4x3
  • UC Berkeley professor Matthew Walker teaches The Science of Better Sleep on MasterClass.
  • The class focuses on teaching you how to increase your quality and quantity of sleep.
  • It helped me learn about my erratic sleep patterns, prevent sleep debt, and improve my health.

In any given year, one in three adults doesn’t get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even before the pandemic, adults weren’t getting the minimum of seven hours of sleep at night – but now COVID-19 has worsened sleep habits, says the National Institute of Health (NIH).

As someone who has an irregular sleep schedule, I’ve definitely found myself getting less shuteye at night during the early months of the pandemic. I attribute this to a variety of factors including the anxiety-provoking news, indoor isolation, and overall stress from quarantine life.

When I heard that MasterClass ($180 for annual membership) launched a new sleep course, I knew I had to take it. Not only did I want quick tips on how to gain quality sleep, but I was also curious about the overall process of sleep so I could better understand why my body may not be getting that much needed rest in the first place. Taught by sleep expert Matthew Walker, Ph.D., MasterClass’s The Science of Better Sleep dives into the biology of sleep and provides science-backed tricks to getting a good night’s rest.

The Science of Better Sleep (medium)

Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, has been teaching courses on sleep and mental health since 2004. In 2017, he wrote the “New York Times” bestseller “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams,” which dives into the purpose and potential of slumber in optimizing health, and his 2019 TED Talk “Sleep is your superpowergarnered over five million views. To further learn how sleep influences physical and mental health through a series of virtual lectures from Walker himself, I decided to sign up.

Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams (medium)

The course covers the following topics that correspond with a virtual 10-20 minute lecture:

  • 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
Science of Sleep MasterClass

The Science of Better Sleep includes 15 videos, which all add up to a total of three hours and 12 mins of lectures. Therefore, you can take the class in one sitting or over a span of 15 weeks – watching one video per week. In addition to the lectures, the course comes with a 24-page course guide with key takeaways and highlighted facts. MasterClass also offers an optional community forum where you can start discussions with other students on course content.

My experience taking the class

Walker recognizes that the loss of sleep is one of the greatest public health epidemics and is very solution-oriented in response to common sleep issues affecting adults today. While I was initially a little intimidated to watch the lectures on physiology and the biology of sleep as I am not super familiar with the content, Walker makes it very digestible and easy to understand with his dialogue as well as the featured animations and graphics. He breaks down multifaceted concepts by emphasizing mind-blowing facts and analogies, which are highlighted in the workbook for review.

For instance, he addresses how to fall back asleep after you’ve accidentally woken up at 3 a.m., which helped me feel less alone when I was really struggling with it during the early months of the pandemic. Some of his tips include doing the following before bed: Setting the temperature of the bedroom to 65 °F, journaling, reading a book, and engaging in mindfulness exercises.

Science of Sleep MasterClass

The best part of this course is being able to apply new, real-time sleep habits to get better shuteye. I am proud to say they’ve drastically improved my sleep patterns and while my sleep routine still isn’t perfect, it’s more manageable than before. Some actions I undertake for quality sleep include getting some sunshine earlier in the day for that much-needed vitamin D and unwinding with some music before bedtime. I’ve found that getting natural sunlight and developing a relaxing routine has resulted in a restful slumber most days of the week.

What I liked

  1. Walker presents the topic of sleep through a multidisciplinary lens. From a biological approach, I learned how good sleep promotes a healthy hormonal balance and allows the brain to make new memories. He also addresses sleep from a sociocultural perspective when amplifying traditional sleep practices from different countries. I felt inspired after learning how Spaniards take long siestas in the middle of working days, so occasionally block some time between meetings for an afternoon nap.
  2. Through this course, you learn as much about yourself as you do about sleep. For example, Walker emphasizes chronotypes (sleep patterns) and reviews the two most common ones: night owl and morning lark. I learned people do not choose to be a morning or night person – it all depends on their genetics. Like 30% of the general population, I discovered I’m a night owl as I’m more creative in the evening and can only wake up after snoozing my morning alarm like 10 times.
    Science of Sleep MasterClass
  3. While you can’t directly interact with the instructor, most discussion threads have interactive prompts, such as taking a quiz to figure out if you’re a night owl or morning lark or sharing your favorite sleep tricks. It was rewarding to gain insight from others and engage in conversations about innovative sleep products on the market.
  4. Even though this course is very action-oriented, Walker recognizes that each solution is not one-size-fits-all. Honestly, some of his sleep recommendations like taking a hot bath or journaling before bedtime did not help me, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help you. He offers a variety of recommendations and tips you can try until you find one that works for you. After taking this course, I recommended a lot of tips to my friends and family and surprisingly found that many of them have different sleep regimens than my own.
  5. As with MasterClass courses in general, I like the fact that this course can be taken at your own pace and time. While courses with interactive quizzes and exams can be beneficial by helping you stay on track, I prefer ones without them so I can focus solely on the content instead of my grades.

Ultimately, this course is not just about equipping you with knowledge on sleep but helping you adopt better sleep habits to feel more well-rested. By the end of the class, you know exactly what happens to your body during sleep, so you can empower and influence others with tips to live more satisfying, healthier lives just by the power of good sleep habits.

The Science of Better Sleep (button)

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The 16 best MasterClass classes, taught by celebrities like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chris Voss, and Serena Williams

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Masterclass E Learning 4x3
MasterClass helps you learn new skills from experts in the field.

  • MasterClass provides online video classes taught by well-known celebrities and industry leaders.
  • An annual subscription costs $180 ($15 a month) and grants access to all of MasterClass’s offerings.
  • Below, you’ll find a personal review, some common FAQs, and 16 of the best MasterClass courses.

Who better to teach you writing than Margaret Atwood, a backhand than Serena Williams, or singing than Christina Aguilera? If you want to learn something new, the best instructor is an expert in their field.

Unfortunately, for most of us, taking a one-on-one cooking class with Thomas Keller or a photography lesson from Annie Leibovitz isn’t realistic. But MasterClass is bridging that gap by recruiting the best of the best to teach us the secrets to their crafts.

Unlike most e-learning platforms focused on teaching hard skills like cloud computing or UX design, MasterClass targets a different audience: creatives who are looking to learn and gain some inspiration along the way.

All-Access Pass (medium)

The site has courses in categories like writing, cooking, sports, business, and politics, and each of them is taught by (you guessed it) celebrities and masters of the field. For $180 a year ($15 a month), you get an all-access pass to all the courses on the site. Each class provides video lessons, a course workbook, and class feedback – which, on some occasions, come from the stars themselves.

If you’re craving an online course to inspire you, help you hone a craft, or give you valuable advice from a respected expert, MasterClass is definitely worth a try. The videos are well-produced, which makes the courses more engaging, and the workbooks provide some extra insight to help reflect on what you’ve learned. You can even download the MasterClass app on your phone to squeeze in quick lessons whenever you have free time.

What you’ll find below:

  1. A list of the 16 best MasterClass courses
  2. A personal review of MasterClass
  3. Some common FAQs

Some of the best MasterClass classes:

Questlove teaches DJing

Questlove

Learn music curation and DJing with Questlove

Questlove — iconic DJ, Grammy winner, and The Roots drummer — teaches collecting and mixing music. You’ll learn how to transition from genre to genre to curate the perfect playlist, whether just for yourself or to wow your friends.

Margaret Atwood teaches creative writing

margaret atwood

Learn the art of creative writing with Margaret Atwood

Writer’s block is a major challenge, but hopefully, some inspiration from Margaret Atwood can bring you out of your funk. The Man Booker Prize-winner’s lessons delve into character development, point of view, structuring a novel, and more. 

Samuel L. Jackson teaches acting

samuel jackson

Learn how to act with Samuel L. Jackson

It’s hard to believe now that Samuel L. Jackson had a stutter growing up, one that actually stopped him from talking for a year. You can learn about how he overcame this obstacle to become an Oscar nominee in this course on acting, which particularly focuses on how to develop a character. 

Apollonia Poilâne teaches bread baking

Masterclass Apollonia Poilâne teaches bread baking

Learn bread baking with Apollonia Poilâne

Apollonia Poilâne, the third-generation baker and CEO of the famous Parisian bakery Poilâne, teaches you how to use all of your senses when baking an ideal loaf from scratch. Poilâne outlines best practices for a variety of French breads — rustic wheat, rye, brioche, and Poilâne’s beloved sourdough loaves — with warmth and clarity. You’ll be able to learn from Poilâne’s practiced movements, see ideal examples of each stage, and hear live troubleshooting. And though your environment will change daily, Poilâne gives you the working knowledge that allows you to adapt.

Ron Finley teaches gardening

Masterclass Ron Finley teaches gardening

Learn gardening with Ron Finley

Ron Finley has launched a movement around an unusual form of protest: gardening. In 2011, Finley was issued an arrest warrant for planting fruits and vegetables on the curbside strip outside his home in South Central LA — a food desert. Two years later, his story helped change LA laws and, a decade later, he’s helped plant dozens of community gardens. In his MasterClass, Finley teaches you how to grow your own food, avoid killing your plants, and the beauty and community you can find in healthy food.

Christina Aguilera teaches singing

christina aguilera

Learn how to sing with Christina Aguilera

Whether you want to fine-tune your vocal craft or have no musical experience beyond singing “happy birthday” to your friends and family, Christina Aguilera has the techniques to help you take it up a notch. The Grammy-award winning artist will give you practical tips on how to polish your sound as well as share some stories about her career trajectory. 

Annie Leibovitz teaches photography

annie leibovitz

Learn photography with Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz claims the title of first-ever female chief photographer at “Rolling Stone,” along with plenty of other accomplishments. Here, she sheds light on her photography philosophy and shows how a great photo comes to life. 

Serena Williams teaches tennis

serena williams

Learn how to play tennis with Serena Williams

If you want to be a pro, you have to practice like one. Get the chance to experience the same drills Serena runs every day, as well as some insight into the importance of mental strength in the game. 

Thomas Keller teaches cooking techniques

thomas keller

Learn cooking techniques with Thomas Keller

Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants, like The French Laundry, have been awarded quite a few Michelin stars and have people eagerly waiting months at a time for reservations. In his MasterClass, he breaks down the basics of some of the most essential cooking techniques, like braising meats and making stocks. 

Carlos Santana teaches the art and soul of guitar

carlos

Learn how to play the guitar with Carlos Santana

If you’re looking for a classic, technical guitar lesson, this course probably isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking to understand how one of the world’s most popular guitarists approaches the instrument, draws inspiration for his music, and found his unique sound, you’ll love this class with Carlos Santana. 

Bob Iger teaches business strategy and leadership

bob iger

Learn business strategies and leadership skills with Bob Iger

As the former CEO and current Executive Chairman of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger was responsible for some of the brand’s most important acquisitions, including Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. With 45 years in media under his belt, he knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful businessperson.

His lesson dives into everything from business insights from the acquisition process to how to use your time effectively and productively.

Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches scientific thinking and communication

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Learn how to think like a scientist with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Ivy League degrees, bestselling books, and a Grammy award are just some of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s accolades. In this course, the renowned astrophysicist will help you see into the mind of a scientist, giving you plenty of skills to help you strengthen the way you think and communicate along the way. 

Kelly Wearstler teaches interior design

kelly wearstler

Learn how to design your space with Kelly Wearstler

Ever wondered how to make your space look like it’s plucked off an “Architectural Digest” page while still feeling like it’s distinctly yours? It’s a tall order, but Kelly Wearstler has designed enough celebrity homes and boutique hotels to give you all the tips and tricks you need to know to redefine your own space. You’ll learn how to choose colors for any room, make a space feel larger, and even curate an art collection. 

Chris Voss teaches the art of negotiation

Chris Voss

Learn the art of negotiation with Chris Voss

During his time as an FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss mastered all of the facets of communication and compromise. While your everyday negotiations may not be as high-stake, Voss’s strategies can help you get the outcomes you want — whether it’s a promotion at your job or a big decision in your relationship. 

Dominique Ansel teaches French pastry fundamentals

dominique ansel

Learn French pastry fundamentals with Dominique Ansel

Dominque Ansel is revered for his creative takes on delicious pastries, like the Cronut, a croissant-donut hybrid that garners hours-long lines outside of his SoHo bakery in New York. In this course, you’ll learn the precise technique Ansel uses to bake his famous treats. Fruit tarts, chocolate cakes, and mini madeleines are just some of the desserts you’ll learn to bake. 

Daniel Negreanu teaches poker

daniel poker

Learn how to play poker with Daniel Negreanu

There’s no one better to help you perfect your poker face than Daniel Negreanu — he’s won the World Series of Poker six times. He’ll help you learn even the most complex poker concepts so you can increase your win rate the next time you sit around the felt. 

A review of MasterClass:

MasterClass is one of my favorite online learning platforms, and I’ve had personal experience with a fair share of them (Coursera, Skillshare, edX, Rosetta Stone, CreativeLive, and so on).

Compared to many online courses, MasterClass’s follow the format of a one-sided conversation more than an academic setting, which can make learning feel more engaging.

I love that I’m able to learn conventional and not-so-conventional tricks and tips from giants of any industry — some of whom are on my shortlist of favorite authors, actors, musicians, and chefs. Classes are pretty short (2-5 hours total), and the lessons are between 5-25 minutes each.

I also get access to notes, additional reading resources, and a community. And it’s nice that I can download lessons or use Audio Mode in the car as a de facto audiobook on days when my attention span is low. 

Plus, the diversity, quality, and flexibility of its online classes is hard to beat. If I’m going through a cooking phase, I can watch bite-sized clips that are interesting and useful. And if something isn’t my number one passion, the allure of a “master” helps me remain interested in the lessons. 

Personally, I enjoy having yearly access. If you’re a lifelong learner, it gives you the ability to jump around different subjects with tools like “topic playlists” that queue up stuff you might like. For me, it’s worth the $180 — especially this year, when I’m stuck at home and trying out new hobbies. It’s informative without feeling overly stringent or overwhelming — a good fit for lockdown. But, if you’re interested in deep-diving into only one topic, I’d recommend auditing a class at Coursera or edX rather than dropping $180 just to access one MasterClass. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter

MasterClass FAQs:

  1. How much does it cost? MasterClass costs $180 for its annual subscription ($15 a month), which gives you unlimited access to all its classes until you cancel. 
  2. Is it worth it? If you will use MasterClass more than a few times, yes, the yearly pass may be worth it. If you won’t, or you need something more intensive or traditionally academic, consider other online learning sites like Coursera or edX
  3. How does MasterClass work? MasterClass classes are about 2-5 hours on average, with individual lessons ranging from 2-5 minutes. Classes include pre-recorded video lessons by your instructor, a class workbook, interactive assignments, and sometimes community activities. MasterClass may have opportunities for students to submit work to instructors for feedback, but that’s not the norm. 
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