A good night’s sleep has become increasingly elusive for many of us — as we stay up for work, play or existential dread — and this is to our detriment. Not only do we feel the effects of poor sleep throughout the day, but research shows that chronic sleep loss has negative long-term effects on our heart health, brain function and more.
If you’re struggling with shut-eye, or you’re simply sleep-curious, reading a book is a solid place to start. “I always encourage people to learn and experiment on their own, and sometimes, a book is a great way to raise awareness,” said Jennifer Martin, a clinical psychologist and professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. (She also noted that you should reach out to your doctor if you’re worried about sleep.)
To help you begin, we asked sleep scientists, clinicians and researchers for their favorite recommendations.
1. ‘Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams,’ by Matthew Walker
Table of Contents
This book was recommended by several experts including Wendy M. Troxel, a clinical psychologist and sleep medicine specialist, who said it’s a good choice for “just about anyone who sleeps.” She credited its popularity to Dr. Walker’s mix of engrossing science and superb writing, saying readers will “geek out on sleep facts while reading text that sounds like poetry.”
If you have insomnia or are already “consumed by worry about the consequences of not sleeping well,” Dr. Troxel did note that the science-packed book might exacerbate those anxieties.
2. ‘The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time,’ by Arianna Huffington
In “The Sleep Revolution,” Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post and C.E.O. of Thrive Global, explores the dangers of sleep deprivation using both research and personal experience.
Against a backdrop of what she calls our modern sleep deprivation crisis, Ms. Huffington unpacks the ways our culture devalues sleep in favor of productivity, and how we can reimagine our relationships with sleep.
Dr. Karin Johnson, a professor of neurology at UMass Chan School of Medicine-Baystate, said the book is a good example of specific ways “successful people can have difficulty with insomnia.”
3. ‘Mindfulness for Insomnia: A Four-Week Guided Program to Relax Your Body, Calm Your Mind, and Get the Sleep You Need,’ by Catherine Polan Orzech and William H. Moorcroft
Insomnia can cause people to stress about falling sleep, which can lead to even more insomnia. But mindfulness can be an effective line of defense against sleep struggles, said Jeffrey Young, an attending psychologist at the UCLA Insomnia Clinic.
He recommended “Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Insomnia,” by Dr. Jason C. Ong, a textbook that general audiences might find useful. But, for something more accessible, Dr. Young said that “Mindfulness for Insomnia” highlights many of the same concepts in a self-help format and includes a foreword from Dr. Ong.
4. ‘Sharing the Covers: Every Couple’s Guide to Better Sleep,’ by Dr. Wendy M. Troxel
Dr. Martin recommended this book by Dr. Troxel (who also provided recommendations for this list) because sleep and relationship health are often entwined.
Whether you or your partner deals with a sleeping disorder, or you simply sleep better solo, “Sharing the Covers” will give you actionable tools so you can “work together on healthier sleep,” Dr. Martin said.
5. ‘The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep,’ by Dr. William C. Dement
Dr. Dement delves into the significance of sleep in this oldie-but-goody, published in 1999. Dr. Angela Holliday-Bell, a sleep specialist and founder of the sleep coaching firm The Solution is Sleep, recommended it for anyone eager to grasp the relationship between sleep and overall health.
“It’s the most well-researched and thorough book on sleep that I have read to date,” Dr. Holliday-Bell said, noting that it includes firsthand accounts of Dr. Dement’s research. “You will walk away with a newfound appreciation for and understanding of sleep and its vital importance in your life.”
6. ‘Hello Sleep: The Science and Art of Overcoming Insomnia Without Medications’ by Jade Wu
Carleara Weiss, a sleep scientist with a focus on behavioral sleep medicine and circadian rhythms, suggested this “easy-to-read” and “honest” look at insomnia.
In addition to covering frequently asked questions about the common sleep disorder, Dr. Wu, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist and researcher at Duke University School of Medicine, includes tips for specific sleep-related difficulties, such as pregnancy, menopause, depression, chronic pain and dealing with multiple sleep disorders.
7. ‘When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep,’ by Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold
Rebecca Robbins, co-author of “Sleep for Success!” and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said “When Brains Dream” is a “clear, compelling and accessible” look at the mysterious world of dreams.
By blending centuries-old curiosity with modern research, the authors explore the science of dreaming and its role in things like problem-solving, emotional regulation and memory formation. The book “gives new life to the line from Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet,’ ‘To sleep, perchance to dream,’” Dr. Robbins said.
Anna Borges is a freelance journalist and author of “The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care.”
Dr. Susanna Ashton has been practicing medicine for over 20 years and she is very excited to assist Healthoriginaltips in providing understandable and accurate medical information. When not strolling on the beaches she loves to write about health and fitness.