Books / Book Reviews

17 books about sleep you need to read


The best books about sleep

I’ve had trouble sleeping for as long as I can remember – a feat that has only been made worse in recent years. Moving to Australia has meant that on the (all too frequent) occasions that I do wake up in the middle of the night, my phone is filled with emails and Whatsapps messages, and the blue light from my iPhone makes getting back to sleep an almost impossible task. And while I doubt I’ll ever be the type of person able to make it through the night without interruption, I have started reading more about slumber – its benefits, what happens when you don’t get enough of it, and ways in which to improve your relationship with it, and have subsequently been making slow, yet steady progress when it comes to improving my shut eye. For anyone with a vetted interest in upgrading their shut eye, I’ve rounded up seventeen of the best books about sleep.

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

A must-read from world-renowned neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep is an important exploration of the science behind sleep. Featuring studies and findings that challenge society’s heroic treatment of working long and late hours, Why We Sleep offers a valuable insight into the greater priority we should all afford sleep.

The Promise of Sleep by William C. Dement

William C Dement’s book about sleep offers readers a revolutionary step-by-step program to help get a better night’s sleep. As a leader in the sleep field for over four decades, Dement looks at how sleep has both evolved over the centuries and, despite its importance, been overlooked by both society as a whole and medical professionals. Shattering common misconceptions about all things sleep-related, The Promise of Sleep is an inspiring and informative read.

Eat Move Sleep by Tom Rath

A book that looks at our diet and exercise as well as our sleep, Eat Move Sleep by Tom Rath is a fascinating books about how the choices we make regarding food, movement and sleep can greatly impact our longevity. Featuring findings and suggestions on ways in which to improve our diet, exercise and sleep as well as a 30-day challenge to help readers introduce new and healthier habits, Eat Move Sleep embraces the ethos that small changes are all it takes to make a big difference.

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall

An engrossing examination of the science behind the little-known world of sleep, Randall was inspired to write Dreamland after he began sleepwalking. Well written, easy to read, fascinating and well-researched, this book offers readers a tour of the frequently odd, sometimes disturbing, and ever fascinating things that go on in the peculiar world of sleep.

Warm and Snug: The History of the Bed by Lawrence Wright

Somewhat different to the other books on sleep, Warm and Snug by Lawrence Wright explores the history of the beds and looks at how they’ve evolved from simple straw-filled sacks, to elaborately carved and decorated indications of prestige, to the more practical versions of the modern era. Packed with fascinating minutiae and facts a-plenty about both beds and how we sleep, it’s a must-read for anyone with an interest in sleep..

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Why We Dream by Alice Robb

Written in the wake of a trip to Peru during which Robb became hooked on lucid dreaming, Why We Dream draws on fresh and forgotten research, as well as the author’s experience and that of other dream experts, to show why dreams are vital to our emotional and physical health. Robb outlines how important dreams are to both mental health and our daily lives and offers readers a fresh foray into the science behind dreams—how they work, what they’re for, and how we can reap the benefits of our own nocturnal life.

Insomnia by  Alain de Botton

Insomnia by Alain de Botton is an articulate examination of, and companion through, the long sleepless hours of the night. A must-read for anyone that suffers from insomnia, this soothing yet informative book offers guidance, companionship and consolation to the ever-restless sleeper.

Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson

A valuable and important read for anyone who wants to sleep smarter, Stevenson’s book is filled with actionable tips and techniques that are well worth putting into practise in order to aid a better night’s sleep. Intelligent and interesting throughout, Sleep Smarter is loaded with real life strategies and research upon research to to make for a page-turning read.

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington

Written by Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post fame, The Sleep Revolution offers a candid look at society’s desperate need for more sleep. Fusing light humour with solid scientific and academic studies, Huffington explains the “whys” of sleep in easily-readable and accessible language. With details on everything from how to help babies sleep more to how to get the sleep you need if your significant other snores, The Sleep Revolution is a comprehensive guide filled with everything you need to improve your shut eye.

Sleep by Nick Littlehales 

If you’re looking for simple, straightforward advice for upping your slumber game, Sleep by Nick Littlehales is a must-read. It provides both a technical look at sleep and specific strategies for better shut eye that elite athletes use. A great book for anyone struggling with insomnia, it’s a pacy and fascinating read that should help you look at sleep in an entirely different light.

The Sleep Book by Guy Meadows

Guy Meadow’s The Sleep Book is perfect for anyone suffering with sleep issues looking for more than just a short term fix. With an empirically based approach that will assist many suffering with insomnia, Meadow”s advice regarding accepting and welcoming the thoughts and anxious sensations surrounding will help readers minimise their worry and change their relationship with sleep.

Best books about sleep

The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest by Penelope A. Lewis

A well-researched and interesting read, Lewis has penned a convincing argument for making sure a good night’s sleep is made a priority. A thorough look at the physiological and chemical functioning of the brain as it passes through different stages and cycles of sleep, the focus throughout the book is not so much on how to sleep better as it is how readers can learn and create memories better through strategic sleep. Filled with scientific explanation to serve as a basis for understanding what’s going on as we learn, sleep and then remember, Lewis does an excellent job of accomplishing what she set out to do … “convincing you that sleep is essential to our physical and mental well-being … [so you will] consider giving sleep some kind of priority in your life.”, ead this book if you want to see how clever our brains are in restoring our bodies and remembering what’s important every night.

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Nodding Off by Alice Gregory

Gregory’s prose in Nodding Off is fusion of facts, anecdotes, and sleep studies. Rather than use the studies to make bold claims, Gregory immediately recognizes their flaws to the reader. This study had a small sample size; this study checked for correlation but not causation; other studies have failed to replicate the results, and so on. But rather than presenting the flaws in a negative light, Gregory uses them to tease the future of sleep science.

Night School by Richard Wiseman

Full of advice on how much to sleep, how to have a rejuvenating sleep, the awesome power of naps, how to avoid jet-lag, how snoring can negatively affect your daily life, how nightmares can be avoided, how to learn while sleeping and how to lucid dream, Night School by Richard Wiseman is a thorough study of all things sleep.  With enlightening and quirky historical details and a wide range of modern research, it’s an interesting and accessible read for those wanting a deeper understanding of shut eye.

Counting Sheep by Paul Martin

Easy to read and exhaustively referenced Paul Martin’s Counting Sheep features myths, legends, and personal anecdotes to address everything from REM, NREM, deep-wave, insomnia, too little sleep, alcohol and sleep, falling asleep, snoring, apnea, to dreaming and waking up. An enlightening and explanatory read, Counting Sheep offers readers a literary look at the science behind the pleasures of sleep and dreams.

The Sleep Solution by W Chris Winter

The Sleep Solution is a journey of sleep self-discovery and understanding that will help readers custom design specific interventions to fit their lifestyle. Drawing on his twenty-four years of experience within the field, neurologist and sleep expert W. Chris Winter – dubbed the “Sleep Whisperer” by Arianna Huffington – brings his experiences out from under the covers and helps redefine what it really means to have optimal sleep.

The Secret Life of Sleep by Kat Duff

In The Secret Life of Sleep, Duff covers a wide range of topics related to sleep, including dreams and their possible interpretations, sleep deprivation, sleep paralysis, sleep walking and most interestingly for some, how other cultures view sleep both historically and currently. Looking at everything from falling asleep, to the practise of sleeping, to waking up, she too touches upon many subtopics, including the problems of sleep aids, our perception of how well we think we sleep compared to reality, how having two periods of sleep with a period of quiet wakefulness in between is better than one long sleep period, the function of dreams in learning, and the emotional, physical, and cognitive effects of shut eye.

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1 comment on “17 books about sleep you need to read”

  1. As someone chronically short of proper sleep due to shift working husband, may I offer a solution to the phone issue that works for me? Put your phone in a box on your bedside table, and turn it to Do Not Disturb. If it’s got a low blue-light setting for nighttime use, turn it on, so that if you are tempted to look at stuff, the lower blue light emissions won’t wake you up so much. Works for me…

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