If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re far from alone. According to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, one in four Americans develops acute insomnia each year. Lack of sleep or restless sleep affects nearly every aspect of our lives, and this frustrating dilemma can often seem like an insurmountable problem.
There are thousands of books about sleep you could read to help you to demystify what happens during sleep, explain why we dream, and offer tips and strategies for improving your, and your family’s, sleep. But with so many books about sleep and sleep training out there, it’s difficult to know where to begin.
In this article, we’re sharing the best all-around books about sleep, the best books about insomnia, and the best books on children’s sleep. So no matter where you are right now in your current relationship (or lack thereof) with sleep, there’s a book for you on this list that can help you get a better night’s rest.
Bonus: Studies have shown reading in bed can improve your sleep, so reading a book about sleep while in bed could be even more effective as a nighttime activity in helping you get better sleep!
The best books on sleep
Sleep is one of the few activities that every single person on the planet does, but most of us know very little about what sleep does for us, why we sleep, and how sleep impacts our body, among many other questions.
This section lists the best books that examine all aspects of sleeping to give you a better understanding of sleeping and dreaming.
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
The title of this New York Times bestseller, written by a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, asks the obvious question: Why do we sleep?
Yes, we all know the obvious—we sleep because we’re tired—but Matthew Walker, PhD, argues that to improve our sleep we need to have a more fundamental and scientific understanding of why we sleep and all the benefits we derive from it.
Walker also highlights the medical importance of sleep that’s less often discussed, such as the studies that indicate how improving your sleep can help prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, as well as potentially increase your lifespan.
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams is ideal for someone who’d like a better understanding of the essentials behind slumber.
The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It
Pardon the pun, but bad sleep habits don’t typically develop overnight. They’re often the result of a pattern of poor choices when heading in for the night, which leads to long-term problems with our sleep.
In The Sleep Solution, Dr. W. Chris Winter, MD—nicknamed the “Sleep Whisperer”—shares his techniques for breaking those bad habits for good no matter what your lifestyle is like.
The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time
You’re likely familiar with Ariana Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post. Huffington is passionate about health and wellness, and in 2016 she founded the company Thrive Global to address stress and burnout.
Her 2016 book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, was born from the same ideas behind the initiatives for her company.
This New York Times bestseller doesn’t just offer advice on better sleep but also analyzes the deleterious effect that widespread lack of sleep has on society, including increased health issues and negative impacts on communities.
The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep
As the founder and director of the Stanford University Sleep Research Center, author William C. Dement, MD, PhD, is one of the pioneers in the study of sleep.
While this book will provide you with tips for better sleep and how to address many sleep disorders, Dement also details the many health benefits of getting a good night’s rest, including the promise of possibly adding more years to your life (and not just for sleeping!).
The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep
What goes on in your mind while you sleep? While many of us can recall both pleasant and unpleasant dreams we’ve had, dreaming is just one of the many things our brains do as we sleep.
In The Nocturnal Brain, Guy Leschziner, PhD, professor of neurology and sleep medicine, looks at several of the most extreme cases of sleep disorders he’s seen in his patients and, in fascinating detail, explains what was going on in their minds that caused that behavior.
From dangerous sleepwalking to sleep eating, Leschziner has seen it all.
The best books on insomnia
Few challenges are more frustrating than not being able to sleep—or not being able to sleep soundly—also known as insomnia. Sleep deprivation is also very detrimental to your health.
There are many causes of insomnia, and these are the best books for finding out exactly what’s keeping you awake and how you can overcome those behaviors.
The Book of Sleep: 75 Strategies to Relieve Insomnia
There are so many causes of insomnia that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution to this frustrating condition. In some cases, it may not even be a single cause but several factors contributing to your inability to sleep.
Nicole Moshfegh, PsyD, offers many approaches to how to find a way to sleep soundly in her book, ranging from helpful hints that could help anyone get better sleep to in-depth strategies that can help you overcome bad sleeping habits for good.
Say Goodnight to Insomnia: The 6-Week Program
In the cleverly titled Say Good Night to Insomnia, Gregg D. Jacobs, PhD, draws on research he conducted at Harvard Medical School for resolving insomnia issues without the use of drugs.
Because of that, Jacobs’ techniques are backed by substantial research in the field of sleep and have been demonstrated to have helped 80% of patients develop better long-term sleeping habits.
Approaching the problem from a psychiatric point of view, Jacobs’ book focuses on developing a more positive, healthier outlook on sleep.
The Insomnia Workbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting the Sleep You Need
While it would be ideal to see a sleep specialist if you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, it isn’t a feasible option for everyone.
Luckily, Stephanie Silberman, PhD, has written a self-help guide that allows you to act as your own sleep specialist by utilizing the same cognitive behavioral therapy strategies she uses with her patients.
Because this is a workbook, you can track your progress night by night to determine what techniques work best for you.
Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day: A Doctor’s Guide to Solving Your Sleep Problems
From the title alone, Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, offers an enticing promise to his readers.
A renowned sleep expert, Rosenberg doesn’t only examine the root causes of sleep issues—including the gamut of sleeping disorders, from insomnia to sleepwalking—in his book. He also explores the benefits of getting a full, refreshing night’s sleep and how that can impact your daily life.
Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success
Many people who wouldn’t consider themselves insomniacs in the traditional sense still suffer from poor sleeping habits that affect their waking hours.
In fact, some people strive to maintain healthy lifestyles in terms of eating and working out but don’t put as much effort into their sleep patterns.
Author Shawn Stevenson takes almost a “workout” approach to sleep in his book Sleep Smarter to train yourself for healthier sleeping.
The best books on children’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep might never have been an issue for you…until you had a child. Now something that was once so easy has likely become a nightly battle in which a crying infant keeps you away from your pillow.
These are the best books about children’s sleep, with a variety of approaches to helping your little ones get the sleep they need—so you can get yours too!
Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach: The Bedtime Doctor’s 5-Step Guide, Ages 3-10
Many parents face their child having challenging sleeping habits, either because they won’t sleep through the night, they keep finding their way into Mom and Dad’s room, or other frustrating behaviors.
In her book, Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD, also known as the “Bedtime Doctor,” suggests parents take an active role in sleep-coaching children with poor sleeping habits to help train them into becoming better sleepers.
As a mom of three, pediatric sleep psychologist, and assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine, Schneeberg has vast experience in the field and shares her expert tips on how to get your kids to sleep.
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems: New, Revised, and Expanded Edition
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, by Richard Ferber, MD, is a bestseller for good reason. It covers the most common sleep issues of both infants and toddlers and offers solutions.
In his approach, Ferber looks at the root causes of sleep issues in children and offers proven strategies for resolving these problems.
Based on Ferber’s work with children at the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital Boston, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems distills Ferber’s expert advice into effective solutions.
Sleeping Through the Night, Revised Edition: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep
What sets this book by Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, apart is that it isn’t just focused on helping your infant or toddler sleep, it also focuses on helping parents and other members of the family sleep well.
After all, not every sleep issue for parents is the result of babies waking them up in the middle of the night—many parents must overcome their night anxieties as they worry about their little ones.
Because a baby who doesn’t sleep well can impact the sleep of the entire family, Mindell’s book takes a community approach to solving this challenge.
The Baby Sleep Solution: A Proven Program to Teach Your Baby to Sleep Twelve Hours a Night
Author Suzy Giordano is called “The Baby Coach” for her expertise in infant behavior, particularly when it comes to sleep training.
Her book offers the promise that most parents can only dream about (that is when they can sleep): a 12-hour night’s rest for their little one.
Giordano originally developed the techniques in the book to help parents of newborn multiples get their twins or triplets down for the night, but she has since adapted the strategies to help parents of even just one sleep-challenged baby.
Go the F**k to Sleep
Of course, for many parents, there are few things more frustrating than a child who just won’t go to bed. While they may want to delve into some of the more, well, helpful books listed in this category, sometimes parents just need a laugh.
Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach has become a modern classic since its 2011 release. This hilarious book, which parodies children’s “good night” books, reflects the frustration parents feel when their little ones just won’t go down for the night.
When you have your copy, be sure to listen to award-winning actor and known F-bomb expert Samuel L. Jackson’s narration of the book.
Did you know there were podcasts designed to help you fall asleep? We’ve rounded up the best sleep podcasts to bring on the Z’s.