Sleeping. It's harder than you might think — at least doing it in a way that leaves us well-rested and functioning at our best. That's where the difficulty comes in: work schedules, familial responsibilities, or poor dietary choices (or some combination of the above) can leave us getting a less than ideal amount of rest every night. That, in turn, can have adverse effects on our physical and mental health, our judgment, and our behavior. Depending on our occupation, the effects can be catastrophic.
In her new book The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington describes the consequences of too little sleep, and the ways in which we can work to correct that. It’s a condition that she’s familiar with: after collapsing at her desk and breaking her cheekbone, Huffington realized that a lack of sleep was a problem that she needed to address. She did this in part by making that process more of "a sacrosanct ritual," she said via email, dedicating a specific span of time and specific activities to readying herself for sleep. "I didn't arrive at this ritual instantly — there was plenty of trial and error as I learned which steps helped and which ones didn't," she said. "But when you consider that, for decades, I had been treating sleep dismissively, the process of changing my sleep habits was a remarkably quick one — once I decided to make it a priority."
What follows is a look at several books that illustrate the importance of a good night’s sleep-some by providing a template for better sleep, others by exploring the cultural history of sleep. Get a couple of these on your coffee table and cue up an appropriate soundtrack, and you'll be on your way to a more rested way of life.