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Getting Some Zzzzs: A Reading List

One thing that I think is interesting to watch is when a topic starts to show up in a bunch of books around the same time. There have been a glut of books recently about the impact of technology on our minds, for example, that all take on the topic from a slightly different angle (or slightly different level of hysteria about the impending demise of culture and thought).

Another trend I’ve seen in nonfiction lately is books about sleep, specifically concerns about how well we’re sleeping and what the impact of poor sleep can have on our minds and bodies. If this is a topic that interests you, you don’t have to look very far for an array of options to choose from. Here are five that I’m curious about:

the secret world of sleep by penelope lewisThe Secret World of Sleep by Penelope A. Lewis

By day, our brains can lead us astray. But by night, our brains are hard at work trying to help us get smarter and be more creative. In The Secret World of Sleep, neuroscientist Penny Lewis looks at the benefits that sleep can have on our brains that will improve our waking life — everything from practicing tasks we’ve learned to building connections between different concepts. Scientists hope that this research can show the connections between our waking and sleeping minds and help improve both.

dreamland by david k randallDreamland by David K. Randall

Journalist David K. Randall became curious about the science of sleep after he started sleepwalking. Similar to The Secret World of SleepDreamland looks at the research being done into how we behave at night. According to the book jacket, the book will answer questions like “Why did the results of one sleep study change the bookmakers’ odds for certain Monday Night Football games? Do women sleep differently than men? And if you happen to kill someone while you are sleepwalking, does that count as murder?”

the slumbering masses by matthew j wolf-meyerThe Slumbering Masses by Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer

Of the five books on this list, I think The Slumbering Masses is the most academic and most political. Published by the University of Minnesota Press, the book looks at the connections between sleep, sleeplessness and industrial capitalism in the United States. As we’ve become more concerned with the connections between sleep and health, happiness and productivity, Americans have become increasingly willing to pay for remedies that will ensure good sleep. But Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer argues that our current fixation with sleep has more to do with our habits of work that what is natural or biological.

the end of night by paul bogardThe End of Night by Paul Bogard

Although The End of Night is less explicitly about sleep than the other books on this list, I think there’s a strong connection between it’s themes and the idea of getting good sleep. In the book, academic Paul Bogard explores the impact of losing natural darkness in an age of artificial light. According to the book jacket, 75 percent of Americans’ eyes never switch to night vision and few of us experience true darkness. The book is a blend of personal narrative, natural history, science and history, which sounds pretty great.

the secret life of sleep by kat duffThe Secret Life of Sleep by Kat Duff

The Secret Life of Sleep is the last book on my list, but it’s the book that inspired me to collect a list of books about sleep. Coming out on March 18 from Simon and Schuster, Kat Duff’s book is another look at the health benefits of sleep. Duff is a licensed mental health counselor, which is a different perspective on this issue that the other authors on this list, too. The cover of this one freaks me out a little bit, but I’m still curious about it.

Do you have any favorite books about sleep to share? Read any of these that you can further recommend? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Meg February 4, 2014, 10:18 am

    Very interesting! I’ve been intrigued by the subject of sleep for a while (mostly because, in my infinite weirdness, I find it strange that humans sleep) — and I think I’d really enjoy any or all of these! I’m also big on conducting sleep experiments on myself, haha — basically changing things up to determine at what level I feel best. Seven hours seems to be the magic number for me. Interesting how it varies from person to person!

    • Kim February 9, 2014, 1:58 pm

      I still haven’t quite figured out my optimum sleep time yet. What I struggle with is routine — getting to bed and getting up at about the same time. It’s really hard for me!

  • Swapna February 4, 2014, 2:49 pm

    I’m definitely interested in THE SECRET LIFE OF SLEEP as well. I didn’t notice this trend of books on sleep, but you’re so right. These things seem to happen a lot in publishing!

  • Shannon @ River City Reading February 4, 2014, 6:22 pm

    This is really interesting, I think the only one I’ve noticed is The Secret Life of Sleep! The Slumbering Masses sounds really fascinating, too.

  • Sophie February 4, 2014, 9:21 pm

    I’ve been noticing this trend too, and sleep sounds like an interesting topic to read about. I like how these books are all written by different kinds of experts and with what seems like very different styles, and I’m looking forward to reading them, especially The End of Night!

    • Kim February 9, 2014, 1:58 pm

      It was interesting to me that different types of writers were coming at the topics. I think they probably come to similar conclusions, but the approaches are curious to me.

  • tanya (52 books or bust) February 5, 2014, 3:57 am

    I hadn’t really noticed how many books are about sleep lately, but it is interesting when all of the sudden a bunch of books published on the same topic come out at the same time. i always wonder how this happens, especially since the whole buying and vetting of manuscripts has to happen so long before a book is published.

  • Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader February 5, 2014, 7:55 am

    I’ve been seeing the Duff book popping up lately. I’m crazy interested in that one (and most of the books on your list, to be honest).

    Now I feel tired. 😉

  • Jennine G. February 5, 2014, 10:31 am

    I hadn’t noticed a bunch on this particular topic, but how much you wanna bet I’ll see them everywhere now.

    • Kim February 9, 2014, 1:59 pm

      RIght? That’s what happens to me! I see two books close together and then all of a sudden they are everywhere!

  • Kailana February 5, 2014, 1:03 pm

    I like how there are trends in books, too. I think a book on sleep would be interesting. It is something that everyone has in common.

  • Athira February 5, 2014, 3:52 pm

    Interesting reading list! I didn’t think there were so many fascinating books on sleep!

  • Cindie @ Nonfictionado February 5, 2014, 3:54 pm

    What a great list. I definitely have to pass this along to my fiance, he’s one of those people that can get a solid eight hours of sleep and still feel tired. I told him to get a thing to monitor his sleep cycles, but maybe reading some of these will encourage him to try other things.

    • Kim February 9, 2014, 1:59 pm

      The boyfriend and I have radically different sleeping habits. I think he doesn’t get very restful sleep because he sleeps a ton and is still tired — like your fiance.

  • Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf February 6, 2014, 12:15 am

    The End of Night has caught my attention a number of times. I really need to read it! Love this list. 🙂

  • Katie @ Doing Dewey February 6, 2014, 10:23 am

    I’ve been curious about these for a while myself. I both enjoy sleep and would love to be able to do without it when I want,, so it’s a topic that fascinates me 🙂