The Top 6 Books to Help You Improve Your Sleep and Health

Student laying on floor with book over her face.
Shot of a young female student who fallen asleep while studying at home

Article at a Glance: 

  • Good, consistent quality sleep helps promote better health.
  • According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between 18 and 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Adults over 65 need 7-8 hours.
  • Approximately one third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. 
  • Sleep deprivation is associated with many chronic diseases and illnesses —such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, anxiety and depression, and other mood disorders.
  • Given how pervasive sleep disorders are [in the United States], the CDC has declared insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic.
  • Lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on the quality and quantity of your sleep. For example, when you eat and what kind of lighting you’re exposed to can confuse your body clock.
  • Check out the books below that provide helpful tips, facts, and guides to maintaining routines that promote better sleep and health.

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Do you experience headaches, fatigue, or cognitive issues during the day? Whether you’re looking for health tips, or you just want some new reading material, here’s our list of must-reads — covering everything you need to know about circadian rhythm, natural vs artificial lighting, preventing chronic illnesses, and sleeping better at night so that you can perform better during the day.

Why We Sleep

In his book Why We Sleep, Sleep Scientist and Professor of Neuroscience at UC Berkeley, Matthew Walker, examines how sleep itself affects every aspect of our physical and mental well-being. In doing so, he does a truly compelling job of illustrating the purpose and power of getting the proper quality and quantity of slumber each night. If you find that you have a hard time remembering things during the day, take a good look at your sleep schedule during the evening time. As Walker points out, your brain is like a filing system that needs rest in order to retain the information it receives each day. In addition, getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night can help us improve our cognitive function, avoid cancer, and live a happier, healthier life.

The Sleep Revolution

In this New York Times bestseller, Arianna Huffington explores how sleep deprivation not only compromises our health, but also hinders our decision-making, undermines our work lives, and negatively impacts our personal relationships.  She explains in detail the rituals that she has adopted to help promote a good night’s sleep, including but not limited to:

  • writing down things that she is grateful for
  • dimming the lights
  • stowing her phone and other electronic devices away while she recharges in her bed

This book comes after Huffington’s personal experience with passing out from exhaustion, and has set the stage for a new meaning behind the saying ‘sleep your way to the top’.”

The Circadian Code

You’ve probably heard of the term “body clock”, but do you know how yours works?  Your body operates on a cycle that lasts for approximately 24 hours, and it is very closely tied to the rise and fall of the sun.  Science shows that your body is heavily influenced by light as well as temperature. This is how you know when to wake up and fall asleep, when to eat, and when to be most active.

Dr. Satchin Panda’s The Circadian Code offers an in-depth explanation of why the circadian clock is important, how it works, and how to know it isn’t working. More specifically, it outlines lifestyle changes that will help you get back in sync with your natural circadian rhythm if you often have a hard time waking up or sleeping naturally. This book also explains how to avoid and/or reverse a long list of health concerns, such as:

  • weight loss
  • insomnia
  • mood disorders
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • and even cancer

The Circadian Code provides a plan that’s backed by science to help you overcome weight loss, improve your sleep, optimize exercise, and effectively manage technology so that it doesn’t interfere with your body’s natural rhythm.

Rhythms of Life

Biological clocks are deeply ingrained in our genes. When they become disrupted — by staying away for extended periods of time, or overexposure to artificial lighting, for example,  humans can experience a number of health concerns — including jet lag, seasonal affective disorder, depression, and heart disease. In this scientific book, Russell Foster and Leon Kreitzman explain the significance of the biological clock and how it plays an essential role in all living organisms.

The Light Around Us

When was the last time you thought about the light around you?  From the moment we wake up in the morning until the time we go to bed, we are constantly surrounded by different types of light that directly impact our performance and mood. The Light Around Us is designed to get us all thinking more proactively about light — different wavelengths of light and light sources, as well as how they affect us in all different aspects of life.  More specifically, it explains the differences between exposure to natural light from sources like the sun, moon, and stars, and that from artificial light sources like fluorescent, LED, and incandescent bulbs.  The book also gives practical tips on how to live a more light-compatible life in a world that’s always “on”.

Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life

Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic methodologies, having started in India more than 3,000 years ago. It’s based on the belief that optimal health and wellness can be had only when you strike a true balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Research in chronobiology shows that our physical, mental, and emotional health are all directly affected by our natural circadian rhythms.  Similarly, aligning ourselves with these rhythms can help us achieve optimal health. As the title suggests, Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life provides a how-to guide on optimizing your daily routine so that you can harness the power of your natural body clock.

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