Sleep seems simple. Or at least it can. It’s that thing we do at night, when we lay down and close our eyes. But unfortunately, for many sleep doesn’t come easily.
Top performers in business, athletics, and other areas all credit high-quality sleep for allowing them to perform to their highest potential. So if you want a proven way to improve your life and to generally feel better, look into these books to find some ways to get a better night’s sleep.
Why Reading About Sleep can be Beneficial
In a lot of topics, people generally know what they need to do to improve. Unfortunately, I think we often inherit terrible sleeping habits, whether from our environments or from our family or friends. However, these books about sleep can help you improve your habits, and equip you with knowledge about the science of sleep.
I’ve actually found that reading before bed can be a healthy way to wind down from my day. And reading about sleep is just a little bonus to help me get a better night’s sleep.
Best Books To Improve Your Sleep
These are some of the best books out there that can help you improve your sleep:
“Why We Sleep is an important and fascinating book…Walker taught me a lot about this basic activity that every person on Earth needs. I suspect his book will do the same for you.” —Bill Gates
A New York Times bestseller and international sensation, this “stimulating and important book” (Financial Times) is a fascinating dive into the purpose and power of slumber.
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams is a popular science book by Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist and sleep researcher. The book explores the latest scientific understanding of sleep and its importance for physical and mental health. It covers topics such as the different stages of sleep, the effects of sleep deprivation, and the relationship between sleep and various health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and obesity.
The book also discusses the impact of technology on sleep, and provides tips for improving sleep quality.
Overall, the book aims to raise awareness about the importance of sleep for overall well-being, and to provide readers with practical strategies for improving their sleep.
Walker addresses important (and commonly asked) questions about sleep. How do caffeine and alcohol impact sleep? What happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change throughout our lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect the quality of your sleep – and can they cause long-term damage?
The Promise of Sleep is a popular science book about sleep by Dr. William Dement, a sleep researcher, and one of the pioneers in the field of sleep medicine.
The book provides a comprehensive overview of the science of sleep and its importance for physical and mental health. It covers topics such as the different stages of sleep, the effects of sleep deprivation, and the causes and treatments of common sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy. The book also addresses the impact of lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and stress on sleep, and provides practical advice for improving sleep quality.
Overall, the book aims to educate the public about the importance of sleep, the impact of sleep disorders, and the ways that good sleep can improve one’s overall well-being.
Dr. William C. Dement reveals the price paid for ignoring sleep–an epidemic of heart disease, traffic-fatigue-related accidents (responsible for a full third of all traffic accidents), and immeasurable mental and psychological disadvantages. The Promise of Sleep includes self-tests to determine how much sleep you really need, full information on the role of prescription and over-the-counter sleeping aids, the latest research on how sleep affects the immune system, helpful methods for combating insomnia, snoring, and jet lag, plus information on sleep disorder clinics nationwide, sleep disorder websites, and more.
With cutting-edge sleep science and time-tested techniques, The Sleep Solution will help anyone achieve healthy sleep and eliminate pills, pain, and fatigue.
The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It is a book written by Dr. W. Chris Winter, a sleep specialist, and a recognized expert in the field of sleep medicine. The book provides a comprehensive overview of sleep and its importance for overall health and well-being. It covers topics such as the causes and symptoms of common sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, and provides practical advice on how to improve sleep quality.
The book also explores how modern lifestyle and technology have impacted the quality of sleep, and how to implement changes to get better sleep. The book also includes strategies for managing and improving sleep for specific groups such as shift workers, travelers, and athletes.
Dr. Winter’s approach emphasizes the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other non-pharmacological methods to improve sleep. This book is intended to be a comprehensive guide for people with sleep problems, as well as for anyone looking to improve their overall health and well-being by getting better sleep.
The Sleep Solution will help you:
- Understand how sleep works and the ways in which food, light, and other activities act to help or hurt the process
- Learn why sleeping pills are so often misunderstood and used incorrectly – and how you can achieve your best sleep without them
- Incorporate sleep and napping into your life – whether you are a shift worker, a student, or an overcommitted parent
- Think outside the box to better understand ways to treat a multitude of conditions – from insomnia to sleep apnea to restless leg syndrome and circadian sleep disorders
- Wade through the ever-changing sea of sleep technology and understand its value as it relates to your own sleep struggles
For nearly 20 years, sleep-deprived Americans have found natural, drug-free relief from insomnia with the help of Dr. Gregg D. Jacobs’ Say Good Night to Insomnia. Jacobs’ program, developed and tested at Harvard Medical School and based on cognitive behavioral therapy, has been shown to improve sleep long-term in 80 percent of patients, making it the gold standard for treatment. He provides techniques for eliminating sleeping pills; establishing sleep-promoting behaviors and lifestyle practices; and improving relaxation, reducing stress, and changing negative thoughts about sleep.
In this updated edition, Jacobs surveys the limitations and dangers of the new generation of sleeping pills, dispels misleading and confusing claims about sleep and health, and shares cutting-edge research on insomnia that proves his approach is more effective than sleeping pills.
Say Good Night to Insomnia is the definitive guide to overcoming insomnia without drugs for the thousands of Americans who are looking for a healthy night’s rest.
Does your child: Have difficulty falling asleep? Wake in the middle of the night? Suffer sleep terrors, sleepwalking, or nighttime fears? Have difficulty waking for school or staying awake in class? Snore, wet the bed, or head bang?
In this best seller on sleep, Dr. Richard Ferber delivers safe, sound ideas for helping your child fall and stay asleep at night and perform well during the day.
Incorporating new research, Dr. Ferber provides important basic information that all parents should know regarding the nature of sleep and the development of normal sleep and body rhythms throughout childhood. He discusses the causes of most sleep problems from birth to adolescence and recommends an array of proven solutions for each so that parents can choose the strategy that works best for them.
Topics covered in detail include:
- Bedtime difficulties and nighttime wakings
- Effective strategies for naps
- Sleep schedule abnormalities
- A balanced look at co-sleeping
- New insights into the nature of sleep terrors and sleepwalking
- Problems in setting limits
- Sleep apnea, narcolepsy, bed-wetting, and head banging
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems offers priceless advice and concrete help for a whole new generation of anxious, frustrated, and overtired parents.
It’s not you; it’s your schedule. Does it sound like magic? It’s not. We’ve all heard of circadian rhythms – those biological processes that give us jet lag and make us night owls or early birds.
But few of us know just how profoundly these diurnal patterns affect our overall health. Bad habits – like skipping meals, squeezing in workouts, working late into the night and then trying to catch up on sleep during the weekend – disrupt our natural cycles. A growing body of research on chronobiology reveals just how sensitive the human body is to these rhythms all the way down to the genetic level.
Our clock genes control more than we realize, and small changes can make the difference between battling our bodies and effortlessly managing weight, sleep, stress, inflammation, and more. Marrying ancient Ayurvedic wisdom with the latest scientific research, this holistic step-by-step 30-day plan provides the tools – and the schedule – you need to transform your life.
A narcoleptic’s tireless journey through the neuroscience of disordered sleep
Whether it’s a bout of bad jet lag or a stress-induced all-nighter, we’ve all suffered from nights that left us feeling less than well-rested. But for some people, getting a bad night’s sleep isn’t just an inconvenience: It’s a nightmare.
In Sleepyhead, science writer Henry Nicholls uses his own experience with chronic narcolepsy as a gateway to better understanding the cryptic, curious, and relatively uncharted world of sleep disorders. We meet insomniacs who can’t get any sleep, narcoleptics who can’t control when they sleep, and sleep apnea victims who nearly suffocate in their sleep. We learn the underlying difference between morning larks and night owls; why our sleeping habits shift as we grow older; and the evolutionary significance of REM sleep and dreaming.
Charming, eye-opening, and deeply humanizing, Sleepyhead will help us all uncover the secrets of a good night’s sleep.
A profound exploration of the precious resource of sleep—and of the causes and consequences of getting too little of it.
Michael McGirr always had trouble sleeping. The arrival of baby twins, however, made him realize that he’d never before known true exhaustion. And while he celebrated these small children who brought him so much joy and tiredness, he found himself on a desperate and bone-weary journey in search of just a few extra winks a night. It was an adventure that would teach him more about what exactly sleep is, why we need it, and what it means when we don’t get enough of it.
In Snooze, McGirr delves into the mysterious world of sleep, including its many benefits, its stubborn elusiveness, and exactly what our brains really get up to while we’re in bed. He offers readers a tour through the odd sleep patterns of some of history’s greatest minds, including Aristotle, Homer, Shakespeare, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Edison, and more. He looks, too, at the demise of sleep in our increasingly fragmented modern world—and examines what that means for everyone from the Average Joe in the workplace to those with serious sleep disorders.
The result is both entertaining and enlightening—the perfect book for those sleepless nights.
Unlock the astonishing facts, myths, and benefits of one of the most endangered human resources—sleep.
It has become increasingly clear that our sleep shapes who we are as much as, if not more than, we shape it.
While most sleep research hasn’t ventured far beyond research labs and treatment clinics, The Secret Life of Sleep taps into the enormous reservoir of human experiences to illuminate the complexities of a world where sleep has become a dwindling resource.
With a sense of infectious curiosity, award winning author Kat Duff mixes cutting-edge research with insightful narratives, surprising insights, and timely questions to help us better understand what we’re losing before it’s too late.
The Secret Life of Sleep tackles the full breadth of what sleep means to people the world over. Embark on an exploration of what lies behind and beyond our eyelids when we surrender to the secret life of sleep.
The Little Book of Sleep is a practical guide to achieving deep, natural, clean sleep. Sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan explains why a good night’s sleep is essential in today’s demanding, 24/7, technology-driven world, introduces us to the science of sleep and teaches us that the secret of good sleep is to get out of our head and back into our body.
Using a unique combination of Eastern and Western practices, including yoga, ayurveda and body-awareness techniques, and with an abundance of invaluable advice and techniques, Dr Nerina guides the listener on their personal journey back to sleep.
With simple five- and 10-minute exercises that you can practice before bedtime, this soothing audiobook incorporates aspects of mindfulness and will help you towards a peaceful night’s sleep in no time.
In her new book, Arianna Huffington, the cofounder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post and the author of the number-one New York Times best seller Thrive , delves into the sleep revolution that is happening all across the world – a revolution that can transform our lives.
Sleep, she writes, is one of humanity’s great unifiers, binding us to each other, to our ancestors, to our past, and to the future. Yet we find ourselves in the middle of a crisis of sleep deprivation, with devastating effects on our health, our happiness, our job performance, and our relationships. Only by renewing our relationship with sleep, she writes, can we take control of our lives, live more fully, and be more engaged with ourselves and with the world and more able to meet the inevitable challenges we all face.
In Thrive, Arianna Huffington introduced her audience to the importance of sleep as a part of redefining success through well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. The topic struck such a powerful chord, resonating so intensely with her audiences around the world, that she realized the power of sleep needed a full exploration. The result is a sweeping, scientifically rigorous, and deeply personal look at sleep, from its history through the ages and the current crisis of sleep deprivation to the mysteries of dreams and the golden age of sleep science that is revealing all the ways sleep plays a vital role in our health, happiness, well-being, and productivity.
In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna identifies the many ways our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted undermines our health and our decision making and ravages our relationships, our work lives, and even our sex lives. She takes on sleep from every angle, exploring the latest science on sleep, the manipulative and dangerous sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also presents scientific recommendations and expert tips on how we can all achieve better and more restorative sleep and learn how to make the power of sleep work for us.
Most important, by highlighting the many areas where sleep’s benefits are being rediscovered – from the world of sports and technology to college campuses, the hotel industry, and even workplaces around the world – she points the way forward to amazing innovations, reforms, and inventions rooted in our new love affair with sleep.
In today’s 24/7, fast-paced, always-connected, perpetually harried, and sleep-deprived world, the hunger for sleep is only getting stronger. The Sleep Revolution both sounds the alarm on the worldwide sleep crisis and offers a road map for how we can take back our sleep and transform our lives and our world.
An engrossing examination of the science behind the little-known world of sleep.
Like many of us, journalist David K. Randall never gave sleep much thought. That is, until he began sleepwalking. One midnight crash into a hallway wall sent him on an investigation into the strange science of sleep.
In Dreamland, Randall explores the research that is investigating those dark hours that make up nearly a third of our lives. Taking listeners from military battlefields to children’s bedrooms, Dreamland shows that sleep isn’t as simple as it seems. Why did the results of one sleep study change the bookmakers’ odds for certain Monday Night Football games? Do women sleep differently than men? And if you happen to kill someone while you are sleepwalking, does that count as murder?
This book is a tour of the often odd, sometimes disturbing, and always fascinating things that go on in the peculiar world of sleep. You’ll never look at your pillow the same way again.
A renowned neurologist shares the true stories of people unable to get a good night’s rest in The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep, a fascinating exploration of the symptoms and syndromes behind sleep disorders.
For Dr. Guy Leschziner’s patients, there is no rest for the weary in mind and body. Insomnia, narcolepsy, night terrors, apnea, and sleepwalking are just a sampling of conditions afflicting sufferers who cannot sleep – and their experiences in trying are the stuff of nightmares. Demoniac hallucinations frighten people into paralysis. Restless legs rock both the sleepless and their sleeping partners with unpredictable and uncontrollable kicking. Out-of-sync circadian rhythms confuse the natural body clock’s days and nights.
Then there are the extreme cases. A woman in a state of deep sleep who gets dressed, unlocks her car, and drives for several miles before returning to bed. The man who has spent decades cleaning out kitchens while “sleep-eating”. The teenager prone to the serious, yet unfortunately nicknamed Sleeping Beauty Syndrome stuck in a cycle of excessive unconsciousness, binge eating, and uncharacteristic displays of aggression and hypersexuality while awake.
With compassionate stories of his patients and their conditions, Dr. Leschziner illustrates the neuroscience behind our sleeping minds, revealing the many biological and psychological factors necessary in getting the rest that will not only maintain our physical and mental health, but improve our cognitive abilities and overall happiness.
Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day: A Doctor’s Guide to Solving Your Sleep Problems by Robert S. Rosenberg, D.O.
If you have insomnia, always feel tired, or can’t sleep because of a restless or snoring partner, help is here.
- Do you have trouble getting to sleep?
- Do you take a long time to get up and get going in the morning?
- Do you wake up feeling like you barely slept at all?
If you or someone you love has problems sleeping, Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg will help you identify the issue and provide targeted solutions so you can start awakening refreshed and renewed immediately. Based on the most recent research and including real patient stories from his practice, Dr. Rosenberg will help you:
- Prevent and manage sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, snoring, sleepwalking, and sleep eating
- Find relief from your symptoms with clinically tested options
- Benefit from new findings connecting PTSD and ADHD to sleep disorders
- Regain energy, reduce stress, and build the foundations for better health
How To Optimize Your Sleeping Habits
After learning about how important sleep is for performance, I decided I needed to make some changes to make sure I was getting the most restful sleep I possibly could. Here are a few of the takeaways from the books above that helped me feel more rested during the day:
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s internal clock and makes it easier to fall asleep at night. I found that when I’d stay up late on the weekends, it would be harder to fall asleep earlier for the first day or two of the week.
- Create a sleep-conducive environment: Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. Use earplugs or a white noise machine if necessary. Personally, I set my thermostat to 65 degrees about an hour before I go to bed to make sure my room is cool when I get in bed. I didn’t like the feeling of sleeping with earplugs in, so I bought this white noise machine on Amazon to help drown out any noise from outside. Also, if you can’t get your room dark with curtains alone, I recommend getting a sleep mask. It might take a few nights to get used to, but I’m sold on this mask from Mzoo. I don’t always use it when I’m home but if I’m staying at a hotel or at a friend’s house, I’ll bring it with me just in case.
- Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime: Avoid watching TV, using your phone or computer, or engaging in other stimulating activities for at least an hour before bedtime. If you’re getting angry or irritated from social media or the news before bed, or creating a bunch of unnecessary stress in the evenings, it’s going to be tough to fall asleep. You need to find a way to relax your body and mind before going to bed to ensure you’re rested the next morning. I personally like to read for a bit to wind down from my day.
- Relax before bedtime: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep. If I had a particularly stressful day, I may do some deep breathing or stretching to help loosen up a bit in the evening.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime: These substances can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. I have a caffeine problem, so I’ll often let my last cup of coffee sneak later and later in the day. However, if I have coffee after about 4pm, I’ll notice it’s harder to fall asleep at night. Alcohol has one of the most severe impacts on sleep. Having a drink or two my feel like it helps you get deeper sleep, but it’s actually not the case. Just a drink or two can disrupt your sleep and leave you exhausted the next day.
- Avoid large meals and heavy exercise close to bedtime: Eating a heavy meal or exercising close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep. Digesting a big meal right before bed can make it uncomfortable to lie down and hard to fall asleep. Eating (and exercise) also raises your body temperature, which isn’t conducive to getting quality sleep. Try to allow at least a few hours after a heavy meal or workout before going to bed.
- Get exposure to natural light during the day: Exposure to natural light during the day can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve your sleep. When you wake up in the morning, try to get some bright light in your eyes. This acts as a signal telling your body it’s time to wake up, and aligns your sleep cycle with the natural pattern of the day. I try to go for a quick walk outside in the morning to get some sunlight before I start my day.
- Consider seeing a sleep specialist if you have persistent sleep issues: If you have trouble sleeping despite trying these strategies, it may be helpful to see a sleep specialist. They can help diagnose and treat underlying sleep disorders. Dealing with sleep issues like insomnia or snoring can be incredibly frustrating. Sleep specialists can set you on the path to getting better sleep and feeling more energized during the day.
It’s important to note that what works for one person might not work for another, so try experimenting and see what works best for you.