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 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. Randall
Journalist David K. Randall became curious about the science of sleep after he started sleepwalking. Similar to The Secret World of Sleep, Dreamland 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-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 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 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!