Anyone who’s ever had issues with sleep knows there’s an odd paradox inherent in that thing that takes up more than a third of our lives: The more you think about falling asleep, the harder it is to do so. To make matters worse, the cause of the trouble is always difficult to pin down. Is it stress? Eating or drinking habits? Not enough physical activity? Too much?
Every year, National Sleep Awareness Week (this year, March 2 through March 9) aims to open discussions about sleep issues and disorders to encourage people who have concerns about their nightly rest to connect with the experts who can help them. If you finally want to tackle your sleep trouble, or you simply want to learn more about lifestyle choices that contribute to a healthy dose ofzzz’s, these books can help.
Making smart choices about sleep aids
This compendium of information addresses all aspects of sleep—from how to create a snooze-friendly bedroom to the science of what happens to us when we shutdown—but among its most usefel offerings is its advice on seeking medical or pharmaceutical help with sleep. From a chapter on specialized doctors and centers to a breakdown of medications, the book can help you navigate that tricky debate about whether your sleep trouble constitutes a medical concern.
Children’s sleep: a whole different ballgame
If the popularity of Adam Mansbach’s comic, profane play on Goodnight Moon, Go the F**k to Sleep, is any indication, getting children to fall asleep is an obstacle that many, if not all, parents experience. Jokes aside, kids’ rest is a serious matter, as Dr. Marc Weissbluth points in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. The leading sleep researcher offers advice on a wide range of children’s-sleep-related matters, including how to establish a bedtime routine, how to adjusting eating or breastfeeding schedules to improve rest, and how to “read” your child for indications of sleep trouble.
For some, sleep trouble can evolve into full-blown insomnia, a condition for which no definitive cure or remedy exists. Gregg D. Jacobs’ six-week plan offers an alternative to medication or therapy (two of the commonest treatment methods). In addition to giving basic information about the disorder and identifying factors that can cause or contribute to it, Jacobs shows how changing one’s thoughts and beliefs about sleep, and cultivating relaxation practices and habits, can improve rest.
The curious science of zzz’s
Whether you’re experiencing sleep trouble and want to learn more about sleep science, or you’re just curious about what exactly happens when your brain turns off each night, report David K. Randall’s bestselling bookDreamland will fill you in. What begins as an investigation into the author’s own somnambulism grows into a comprehensive account of sleep throughout history, cases of extreme sleep disorders, the neuroscience and psychology of dreaming, and even the dicey legislation around murders committed by sleepwalkers.
Shutting off your mind
Many peoples’ sleep problems can be traced back to psychological phenomena such as anxiety and depression. And anyone who’s had stress-related sleep issues is familiar with the vicious cycle therein: the more stress you feel, the less you sleep, leading to even more stress, and even less sleep. Colleen Carney and Rachel Manber’s Quiet Your Mind and Get to Sleep examines the link between negative emotional states and a poor night’s rest. The book offers gentle but effective methods for training your mind to adapt to a healthy sleep schedule.
What you eat is how you sleep
Anyone who’s had a 4pm cup of espresso or an extra-sugar-loaded dessert knows how food can influence sleep. But the relationship between diet and sleep—and between weight loss and sleep—goes deeper. In The Sleep Doctor’s Diet, Michael Breus and Debra Fulghum Bruce, PhDs, lay out a guide for eating food that contributes to a healthy snooze, and show how good sleep can improve one’s chances for losing weight.