Tips for Better Sleep: 5 Books that Provide a Fascinating Insight into the Land of Nod

Our relationship with sleep is a funny one. While we begin our lives sleeping for 16 to 20 hours a day (somewhat sporadically, and without any real consistent pattern, much to the frustration of our parents’ sleep cycles), shockingly, 62% of adults worldwide now feel that they're not sleeping well.

by Uptime Staff / 2021-07-28

The way our relationship with sleep evolves throughout our lifetime is pretty ironic. Though we spend our childhood years dreading bedtime, it’s only when we finally start truly appreciating the value of sleep that it starts eluding us at all costs.

For most of us, a poor night's sleep is not a conscious decision. Whether it's because of the stress of our daily workload, or our partner's incessant snoring, getting those coveted eight hours each night often feels like an uphill battle. But why is this, exactly?

These five books give us fascinating insights into the land of nod, exploring everything from science-backed tips for more rejuvenating sleep, to the hidden messages encoded in our dreams.

Sleep Smarter – Shawn Stevenson

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This book from author, entrepreneur, and podcast host Shawn Stevenson presents us with the science behind sleep, aiming to both motivate and educate us on how exactly we can reach those coveted eight hours. 

One of the key insights of the book is the impact that light has on our sleep due to its effect on melatonin, which is the hormone primarily responsible for keeping our circadian rhythm in check. 

Our circadian rhythm is the clever little process that acts as our internal body clock. It helps us to stay awake as well as telling us when it’s time to sleep. Melatonin acts as the signal to our circadian rhythm: when we’re exposed to light, it suppresses our melatonin production, and when we experience less light, our melatonin levels increase. 

quotation marksSimply put, when you get more sunlight exposure during the day, and less light exposure at night, you’re on your way to a magic sleep formula that really works.

Sleep Smarter suggests a number of methods by which we can optimise our light exposure, and therefore keep our circadian rhythm healthy. Some of Stevenson’s recommendations include soaking up sunshine in the early morning to wake us up, ensuring our sleep environment is well protected from light, and avoiding electronic devices for at least 60 minutes before bedtime.

Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker

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It’s often quoted that sleep, diet, and exercise are the key pillars to good health. However, author Matthew Walker argues that sleep is in fact the core requirement that the other two stand upon, with sleep deprivation being one of the driving factors behind an increased risk of heart disease. 

Why We Sleep encourages us to recognise the importance of sleep in a world that is increasingly concerned with staying awake for longer. As our lives continue to increase in pace, and we adopt more and more technologies into our daily routine, this book highlights how crucial sleep is to our health and well-being, and warns us of the consequences of sleep deprivation. 

quotation marksInadequate sleep—even moderate reductions for just one week—disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic.

Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology and the director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, has invaluable information to share about the long-term repercussions of good sleep (or the lack of it). He discusses why and how sleep is foundational to our health, and how our risk of disease increases significantly if we don’t get enough of it.

The Power of Positive Thinking – Norman Vincent Peale

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Why We Can’t Sleep is aimed at Generation X women. Rather than addressing the factors directly associated with sleep, it examines the reasons why women today are under unprecedented levels of stress, as well as providing coping mechanisms by which to manage it.

quotation marksYet somehow for this generation of women, the belief that girls could do anything morphed into a directive that they must do everything.

Stress is a leading cause of disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and even narcolepsy. By taking a closer look at the root causes of stress in our lives, and better understanding tips for its effective treatment, we can hope to effectively solve our sleep problems rather than masking over them. 

Ada Calhoun encourages and empowers female readers to acknowledge and accept the realities of life so that they can unburden themselves from the societal pressures that are causing so much stress, and as a result, hopefully, get a better night’s sleep.

The Interpretation of Dreams – Sigmund Freud

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This next book is probably one you’re familiar with. The Interpretation of Dreams is Sigmund Freud’s seminal work which scientifically analyses the deeper meaning behind our dreams with the intention of giving us a greater insight into our own psyches. 

quotation marksThe interpretation of Dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.

Although this book is not one that provides remedies or aid for sleep disorders, it gives a fascinating look at what’s going on in our brain during REM sleep. In his groundbreaking book, Freud explains that the content of our dreams occurs from three different sources: recent, real-life events, childhood memories, and bodily stimuli. It’s a highly complex and scientific book to read; however, it’s one filled with captivating content that can help us to interpret the subconscious mind that runs free when we’re in a deep sleep. If tackling the full book daunts you, check out our three key insights on Uptime first to see if it sparks your interest.

The Sleep Revolution – Arianna Huffington

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The Sleep Revolution takes an honest and uncomfortable look at Western sleep culture, with the hope of changing our perspective on the importance of sleep and work-life balance. In the rat race of today’s society, a lack of sleep is often regarded as an achievement; lack of sleep is supposedly a ‘badge of honour’ that proves that we’re dedicating more time to our waking life goals. Yet research continues to demonstrate that more sleep leads to better results in all areas of life.

quotation marksSleep is profoundly intertwined with virtually every aspect of brain health. Lack of sleep over time can lead to an irreversible loss of brain cells - yet another debunking of the myth that sleep debt can be made up.

Author Arianna Huffington, whose wellness company also partners with the annual World Sleep Day, explains how the vast majority of us have been sleep deprived since childhood, ever since we were woken up to attend school. In this book, Huffington provides everything you could need to know about sleep, and how you can improve your daily life to make the most out of your waking hours and finally reclaim those oh-so-precious hours of rest.

When we all fall asleep, where do we go? To reset your sleep cycle and seize knowledge from these sleep experts, take a deep dive into these 5 Knowledge Hacks on Uptime.

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