Sleep is something most of us can be doing better. Approximately one quarter of Americans endure acute insomnia every year and only about three quarters of them recover (source). Fifty to seventy million Americans have a sleep disorder and over 35% of adults report getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night on a regular basis (source).
The 12 best books about sleeping better have all been known to help people suffering from sleep disorders to get back on track with their sleeping. Even if you do not have a sleep disorder, the lessons taught in these books will help you improve the quality of your sleep.
Whether you’re looking for a book about the science of sleep, information on how to overcome a sleep disorder, or just some tips to help you get a better night’s sleep, you will find something on this list that will you help.
1.Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
Sleep deprivation can affect every aspect of your life as Dr. Matthew Walker discusses in detail in Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. Published in 2017, it is one of the most comprehensive recently published books about sleep.
If you’re looking for a book written by a sleep authority, then look no further. Dr. Matthew Walker knows about sleep. He is a professor of neuroscience and psychology and the Director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at UC Berkeley, and he has appeared on several TV shows as an expert on sleep including 60 Minutes, Nova, and BBC News.
In Why We Sleep, Dr. Walker warns against the health hazards of not getting enough sleep and what this means for us at the societal level, but he doesn’t stop there.
This book covers all the pertinent research concerning sleep including answers to questions like why and how we dream, how sleep changes as we age, how sleep deprivation affects the brain and body, and if sleeping pills really help.
While the book doesn’t go deeply into how to get more sleep if you’ve been struggling, it does give you ample motivation to find a solution to your sleeping woes and arms you with knowledge about the little understood topic of sleep.
Who would love this book: Someone looking for a scientific look at sleep and especially the dangers of not getting enough.
2. The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It
In this book, Dr. W. Chris Winter makes use of all the most recent research about sleep to teach people how to identify the causes of the problems they have with sleep and how to fix them.
Dr. Winter takes a down to earth and humorous tone in his writing as he goes over the basics of sleep, things that could harm your sleep, and why sleeping pills are used incorrectly. He advocates for finding solutions to common problems without using medications.
While this book is certainly informed by research, the science of sleep is not in the spotlight. The Sleep Solution focuses on helping people by providing real life solutions and presenting them with humor and wit.
Who would love this book: Someone looking for researched backed solution to common sleep issues.
3. Say Good Night to Insomnia: The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program Developed at Harvard Medical School
If you are unfortunate enough to be one of the 25% of Americans who experience acute insomnia, you will find Say Good Night to Insomnia by Gregg D. Jacobs very informative and insightful.
First published in 1998 and updated in 2009, this may not be the freshest book about insomnia, but it is still used by therapists and others today to help people end their struggle with sleepless nights.
Say Good Night to Insomnia outlines a 6-week program to help you overcome insomnia without using sleeping pills. The program was developed at the Harvard Medical School and is based in cognitive behavior therapy.
The approach emphasis reducing anxiety, triggering a relaxation response, and restricting sleep to help prevent waking up in the middle of the night. The updated edition discusses the limitations and dangers of the most recent sleep medications.
After over 20 years, Say Goodnight to Insomnia continues to be popular because it works.
Who would love this book: People looking practical advice to help them get relief from insomnia.
4. The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep
The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep is considered the most authoritative and comprehensive book about sleep.
And it is not surprising from a book that is over 500 pages long. The Promise of Sleep is the result of decades of sleep research by Dr. William C. Dement, one of the foremost experts on sleep.
Dr. Dement was an integral part of discovering and describing Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep in the 1950’s, just to give you an idea of just how extensive Dr. Dement’s research and knowledge is.
In The Promise of Sleep, Dr. Dement connects sleep problems with many common health issues, making a convincing argument for getting enough sleep.
Many consider this to be the most important book on sleep. It covers the fundamentals of sleep, sleep disorders, how to get quality sleep, sleep debt, circadian rhythms, and how our environment contributes to our sleep.
This book is different from many of the others because it does not only review the scientific research done about sleep, but it also gives real strategies to help readers develop a healthy sleep pattern. Additionally, Dr. Dement includes a self test to discover how much sleep you actually need.
Who would love this book: Someone looking for a comprehensive overview of all sleep related topics as well as strategies for getting a better night’s sleep.
5. The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep
In The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmare, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep, Dr. Guy Leschziner takes readers on a bizarre journey as he shares the true stories of people who suffer from sleep disorders.
The Nocturnal Brain is a kind of cabinet of curiosities when it comes to sleep disorders and comes out of Dr. Guy Leschziner’s experience as a neurologist at the Sleep Disorders Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals in London.
The real tales of people experiencing insomnia, narcolepsy, night terrors, sleepwalking, restless leg syndrome, sleep eating, and more are at once bizarre and heartbreaking. Dr. Leschziner writes with heart felt compassion for the patients whose stories he tells.
Who would love this book: If you’re looking for an inside look at a variety of sleep disorders, this is the book for you.
6. Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success
Shawn Stevenson, the creator of a very popular podcast called The Model Health Show, takes a down to earth and practical approach to sleep in Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep You Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success.
This fun and easy to read book outlines 21 different strategies for getting a better night’s sleep with emphasis on how sleep impacts your entire life. The practical advice in Sleep Smarter is written in such a way that it is easy to understand and take action based upon what you’ve read.
Additionally, Sleep Smarter offers a 14-day sleep makeover that will teach you a step by step method for reforming your sleep habits and support you through your first steps toward improving your sleep.
Pick up this book for a down to earth and practical approach to sleep. Beyond the typical suggestions for improving your sleep, Stevenson also recommends ways to improve your eating an exercise routine. They will, of course, also help you sleep better!
Who would love this book: This book is for anyone looking for a simple and practical program to follow to help them get a better night’s sleep.
7. Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
Can you imagine waking up on the floor of your hallway with a banged up leg and not knowing how you got there? That is exactly what happened to journalist David K. Randall. When he was not satisfied with the answers, or lack thereof, that doctors gave him, he began to research sleep himself.
Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep is a pop science account of the world of sleep. It blends scientific research with anecdotal accounts to answer questions like is it murder if you kill someone while sleep walking and do women sleep differently from men among others.
Randall’s approach is unique from the other books on this list because it covers a lot more than just the science of sleep and strategies for better sleep. It reviews anecdotal stories from the legal system of people claiming to commit crimes while sleeping, military accidents, and how student manipulate their sleep rhythms to perform better academically or on the field.
Who would love this book: If you’re interested in learning more about sleep, but find scientific writing boring, this book will give you the information you need with enough life and spice to keep it light and interesting.
8. The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time
If you’re familiar with the research on sleep, this book may not provide any new information, but if you’ve been neglecting your sleep habits and want that kick in the pants to help you reform, this book will get you there.
In The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time, writer Arianna Huffington
says that sleep deprivation is a crisis of the modern world. She calls for people to pay more attention to how the lack of sleep is affecting their lives and to take steps to improve their sleep hygiene.
Huffington explores the most recent research on sleep including the research on sleeping pills and the impact technology is having on sleep, but she does not give very many strategies for getting more or better quality sleep.
Who would love this book: Anyone looking for motivation to change and a deeper understanding of the importance of sleep will benefit from The Sleep Revolution.
9. The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest
Penelope A. Lewis takes a scientific approach in The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest as you would expect from the person who runs the Sleep and Memory Lab at the University of Manchester.
The Secret World of Sleep is written for the non-scientist who wants a scientific take on sleep. It does a good job of explaining the basics of neurology, neurochemistry, and how it relates to sleep.
Lewis looks specifically at how the brain reacts to sleep and what the brain does while we sleep. Topics she covers include why we dream, why we replay memories in our sleep, and how to get the most out of the time you spend sleeping.
The approach in The Secret World of Sleep is less alarmist than some of the other books on this list, and it focuses more on the positive things you can bring into your life by getting a better night’s sleep.
Who would love this book: If you’re interested in the neurology of sleep and what function sleep serves for the brain, but you don’t have extensive scientific knowledge, this would be the perfect book to get you started.
10. Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day: A Doctor’s Guide to Solving Your Sleep Problems
Physician Robert Rosenberg cuts right to the chase in Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day. He spends a mere ten pages discussing the basics of sleep before diving into general information about how to get a better night’s sleep, and then moving on to the specifics of several different sleep disorders.
For each sleep disorder Dr Rosenberg goes over what the sleep disorder is, what it might be confused with, what causes it, treatment options, answers to common questions about the disorder, and a way to check yourself to see if this is the cause of your sleep troubles.
Dr. Rosenberg ends the book by discussing some common health issues that can impact sleep including PTSD and ADHD.
This book packs a massive amount of information on how to get a better night’s sleep and how to navigate sleep disorders into a slim spine.
Who would love this book: Anyone who is looking for a succinct, easy to navigate book about sleep disorders will enjoy this book.
11. Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems: New, Revised, and Expanded Edition
First published in 1985, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber is a classic. This book on sleep relates directly to babies and children, and believe me, there is no better way for a parent to improve their sleep than by improving their child’s sleep.
In this new edition of Dr. Ferber’s classic, he covers any and all aspects of sleep in children including sleep associations, nighttime fears, colic, bedwetting, sleep schedules, napping, and sleep disorders in children.
While many parents swear by Dr. Ferber’s methods and believe his book is the reason their children are such good sleepers, it is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Who would love this book: This book is a great resource for anyone who has children that struggle with sleep or who would like more information about how to sleep train their children.
12. The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night provides another solution for parents struggling with babies who have trouble sleeping.
If the Ferber method doesn’t sit well with you, this book outlines another way. Author Elizabeth Pantley takes into account the need for families to customize parenting and solutions to their children’s sleep.
After going over the basics of sleep, she outlines a number of sleep solution options that you can customize to meet your family’s needs. Pantley then takes parents through how to log and analyze the method they used so that they can improve upon it.
She even wraps the book up by reminding moms to not forget to sleep themselves.
Who would love this book: If you aren’t interested in trying the Ferber method of sleep training, but you still want to pursue a solution to you and your babies sleeping troubles, this book will help you do just that.