Last Updated on February 17, 2024 by Louise Carter
Reading is an eternally popular pastime, with many ways to access your favorite stories. Between books, eBooks, and audiobooks, there’s something for everybody. Reading helps you relax at night.
Most of us spend our days attached to screens, whether a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Reading a book offers respite from the blue light emitted by screens, which disrupts our sleep.
For this reason, eReaders are best avoided because they emit blue light. Traditional paperbacks and hardbacks are ideal, as most sleep experts recommend avoiding screens 1 hour before bed.
Reading is a great way to unwind and destress at the end of the day. A good book involves leaving your troubles behind and going to a different headspace.
If you have poor eyesight or find reading stressful, listen to an audiobook after an evening walk.
Is it Good to Read Books Before Bed?
Sleep hygiene has gained prominence in recent years. It involves establishing a routine and spending at least 1 hour winding down before bed, ideally away from screens.
Reading a book in bed is among the best ways to achieve good sleep hygiene because it allows the body and mind to relax and unwind before sleep.
If you read at bedtime, you can remove yourself from the reality of your day. Reading a book separates your waking day and all its responsibilities from the peace and calm of bedtime.
Is Reading in Bed Bad for Sleep?
You need to find reading relaxing and enjoyable to aid sleep. Forcing yourself to read when you don’t enjoy doing so will create unnecessary stress at the worst possible time.
Be mindful of what you read in bed. If you have a nervous disposition and a vivid imagination, spooky ghost stories or horror literature are best avoided lest nightmares keep you awake.
The other instance that reading in bed is best avoided is if you have insomnia. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read before bed, but establishing a sleep hygiene routine is more important than ever.
If so, read in another part of the home. Reserve your bed exclusively for sleep and intimacy. Cuddling with a partner is among the most effective ways of promoting sleep.
Reading vs. TV Before Bed
If you’re not a reader, you may wonder, “Why is reading so much better for me than watching TV?”
While both activities are passive and relaxing, watching TV leads to more significant distractions. When did you last watch a show or movie from start to finish without checking your phone?
Smartphones, especially social media apps, are engineered to absorb your attention.
As a result, a quick scroll can delay your sleep for hours as you grow increasingly engaged in what you see, whether due to happiness, anger, or other strong emotions.
Sleep experts recommend avoiding TV and laptop screens for around an hour before bed.
The images on a screen stem from electromagnetic radiation, which our eyes interpret as colors, and this is why screens are referred to as emitting “blue light.”
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism explains how sensitive we are to blue light, especially in melatonin production. Looking at a screen blocks the release of melatonin.
The longer and later we watch TV at night, the harder it becomes for our brains to relax and fall asleep. Reading a book makes it easier for the eyes and brain to relax after a long day.
Here are some of the best alternatives to watching TV.
Should I Read Paper Books or eBooks Before Bed?
The march of technology in the 21st Century means that some people consider paperback or hardback books old-fashioned.
Most homes now have at least one eReader, like a Kindle or a Nook. Alternatively, apps are available to turn smartphones and tablets into Readers.
How does reading an eBook or tablet before bed affect sleep?
eBooks are gentler on the eyes. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, eReaders still emit blue light that delays sleep and reduces alertness in the morning.
This study was conducted in 2015, and the technology has advanced. Newer models of eReader, notably Amazon’s Kindle Oasis, emit minimal light. However, it’s impossible to have a screen with no blue light.
If you can use an eReader without disturbing your sleep, you should do so.
There’s no denying they’re convenient at night because you won’t need to switch on a lamp, thus avoiding disturbing anybody who shares your bed. Also, eBooks are easier to store than paperbacks.
If eBooks prevent you from sleeping, switch back to conventional printed books.
Don’t waste money on glasses or lenses that claim to block blue light. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics explains that there’s no evidence these products work.
Are Audiobooks OK Before Bed?
Bring audiobooks to your sleep hygiene routine if you don’t enjoy reading but still like to be entertained without screens. Listening to an audiobook is like hearing a story while you slowly start to doze off.
The easiest way to enjoy audiobooks is through smartphone or tablet apps.
Hook them up to wireless speakers and leave the device on the other side of the room. This way, when you’re ready for sleep, you can turn off the speaker and avoid interaction with a screen.
How To Be Comfortable Reading Before Bed
Several factors determine whether reading will be comfortable:
|Choose another room for pre-bedtime reading. If you experience insomnia, consider reading in another room and leaving the bed exclusively for sleep.
|Reading is only relaxing if you maintain the right posture. Use a reading pillow to cradle the neck and upper shoulders, pad out the spine, and rest the book on your stomach.
|Never strain your eyes while reading, so wear reading glasses. You could even get prism glasses equipped with a periscope over each lens.
|Conditions shouldn’t be so dim that it strains your eye or so bright that it keeps you awake.
What Are The Best Books To Read Before Bed?
Favorite books are entirely personal, but some books are better than others to read before bed.
Here are some things to consider that may help you sleep better:
- Short story anthologies provide the opportunity to read briefly each night.
- Fairy tales you recall from childhood may evoke feelings of nostalgia.
- Non-fiction books are less likely to keep you awake to discover what happens next.
- A light and breezy read that doesn’t make you think too hard, like a paperback romance from a supermarket spinner rack, will relax the mind.
- Avoid reading books that are fascinating, exciting, addictive, or scary.
If the book you read calms your body and mind and eases you into a night of quality sleep, there’s no such thing as the wrong book to read before bed.
How Much Reading Before Bed Is Recommended?
One of the benefits of reading before bed is you’re likelier to notice you’re drowsy.
While reading is relaxing, it’s less passive than watching TV or scrolling through the news and social media. Also, your eyes will be less stimulated, making you feel naturally tired.
Read for around 20 minutes before bed and see if this eases insomnia. If you can’t keep your eyes open or reread the same sentence countless times as you’re too tired to concentrate, get some sleep.
The benefits of reading before bed speak for themselves, especially if you embrace this hobby over a screen-based alternative.
Reading before bed is an excellent way to calm the mind and drift off naturally.