Along with daily exercise and comfortable mattresses, snuggling with a nice book in bed is a habit that the National Sleep Foundation highly recommends for promoting healthy sleep habits. Reading is one of the best activities you can choose to wind down before you get some shut-eye. The advent of tablets and smartphones has made reading a popular nighttime habit, but this is hardly conducive to getting a good night’s sleep. The problem with checking Facebook updates or following a rabbit’s trail of internet links at bedtime is related to human circadian rhythms. Our internal clocks are delayed by the light glowing from mobile devices, which slows the release of the melatonin sleep hormone. You’ll want to avoid electronic screens before going to bed, which is why you should look for the print versions of the following titles instead of their digital Kindle or eBook counterparts. Interesting enough to enjoy but not enough to keep you up all night, here are seven books to help you fall asleep.
This historical novel travels from Harlem during the Roaring Twenties to the American South under Jim Crow laws. The narrative and style of this book evokes its namesake musical genre. If you have previously listened to jazz to help you focus, relax or go to sleep, you will appreciate the sensual beat of Morrison’s prose. At 229 pages, Jazz is a bedtime companion that you’ll be able to enjoy over many nights.
The King Is Always Above the People
Each short story in this collection will take you about 30 minutes to finish, but chances are that you’ll think about them for a few minutes more before falling asleep. The topics are modern and a bit unsettling. Although many of them focus on the Hispanic American experience in the United States, the themes are universal and you’ll recognize that you and your peers share many of the same traits of the characters smartly created by Alarcón.
At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time
In this book, you’ll find literary excerpts, poems, prayers, essays, thoughts, meditations and other little treasures that you can look forward to reading every night. This compilation is ideal for readers who are interested in the devotional aspect of life, particularly as it relates to the Christian faith. The content has been curated in a manner that inspires without proselytizing.
Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
David K. Randall
This is the perfect subject matter to immerse yourself before going to bed. David K. Randall is a Reuters senior journalist whose prose is reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell’s because he can masterfully explain scientific research in a way that is fascinating to read. Randall decided to write this nonfiction masterpiece after he became aware that his sleepwalking had intensified to the point of crashing into bedroom walls. If you think you have problems falling asleep, you’ll be intrigued about the sleep patterns that soldiers practice in combat.
Names for the Sea
For the most part, people in Iceland sleep very well, but the few cases of insomnia in that Nordic country are worth reading about. Sarah Moss moved to Iceland in the wake of the global financial crisis, and she initially found people to peculiar, only to realize that she was the odd one out. Armchair travelers will find the sectional arrangement of this book perfect for winding down before sleeping.
In Search of Lost Time
The unabridged version of this classic novel will take you too many nights to read, but Volume One: Swann’s Way is just what you need at bedtime. Sleeping and dreaming were two of Proust’s many obsessions, which he explored at length in this encyclopedic novel. The sleep-inducing element of Swann’s Way is its elegant and highly satisfying prose, which is slightly philosophical but very universal.
Last Picture Show Trilogy
The Last Picture Show, Texasville and Duane’s Depressed are modern classics of American literature. The incredible life of Duane Moore and his Texas family is engrossing. Many readers start with the third book, Duane’s Depressed, mainly because it deals with what the character’s relatives think is a mental breakdown, when in fact he was just getting old and thoughtful. Interestingly, the therapist who treats Duane recommends that he should take a year to read all seven volumes of the aforementioned In Search of Lost Time, which he does during the day and late into the night until falling asleep.