4 Books to Read For Better Sleep

The older I get, the more I’ve turned my focus inward to improve my quality of life. I’ve identified the core behaviors that must be happening in my life on a daily basis in order for me to feel good.

I returned to my list of roots early in the COVID crisis because I was feeling restless and aimless. (and I still do.) Identifying what’s important on a basic level helps me get through the day.

Number one on my list of roots is a good night’s sleep. The rest are things I need to do each day in order to feel ready to wind down at the end of the day for another good night of sleep.

  • Eat whole foods as much as possible
  • Exercise
  • Shower
  • Write
  • Read
  • Listen to music

I know I’m not the only one whose list of priorities shifted when the pandemic hit. As much as I try to focus on getting all of those things done every day, they aren’t happening as much as I’d like. BUT I’ve kept sleep as my top priority and can notice the difference when that slips.

If you’re like me (and the majority of humans) and struggle to get good sleep, or to prioritize it, the following books will help. The first step is to understanding what we get from sleep and why we need it AND to recognize that needing it is NOT a sign of weakness!

4 Books to Read For Better Sleep

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

From Goodreads: An explosion of scientific discoveries in the last twenty years has shed new light on this fundamental aspect of our lives. Now, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives us a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming. Within the brain, sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming mollifies painful memories and creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge to inspire creativity.

Walker answers important questions about sleep: how do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? What really happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect us and can they do long-term damage? Charting cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and synthesizing decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes; slow the effects of aging; increase longevity; enhance the education and lifespan of our children, and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses.

The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep by William C. Dement and  Christopher Vaughan

From Goodreads: Taking readers on a fascinating tour of our sleeping body and mind, 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. Offering a hands-on prescription for vibrant good health and longevity, 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 Web sites, and more. 

Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun

From Goodreads: Speaking with women across America about their experiences as the generation raised to “have it all,” Calhoun found that most were exhausted, terrified about money, under-employed, and overwhelmed. Instead of being heard, they were told instead to lean in, take “me-time,” or make a chore chart to get their lives and homes in order.

In Why We Can’t Sleep, Calhoun opens up the cultural and political contexts of Gen X’s predicament and offers solutions for how to pull oneself out of the abyss—and keep the next generation of women from falling in. The result is reassuring, empowering, and essential reading for all middle-aged women, and anyone who hopes to understand them.

The Insomnia Workbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting the Sleep You Need by Stephanie Silberman

From Goodreads: The Insomnia Workbook is designed to simulate the experience of seeing a professional CBT sleep specialist. First, you’ll assess your sleep habits with questionnaires and evaluate how your sleep problem affects your life; then you’ll learn a variety of proven techniques sleep specialists recommend to their clients. This book includes all of the tools you need to better understand your insomnia and create an effective plan for getting the sleep you need.

With this complete program, you will: Stop the racing thoughts that keep you awake at night, Train yourself to sleep using stimulus control, sleep restriction, and deep relaxation skills, Identify foods and lifestyle factors that may be making things worse, Keep a personal sleep log to track your progress.

I hope these books can give you guidance on how to get better sleep. Are there others on the topic you’d recommend?

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