Is it Good to Read Before Bed? The SURPRISING Truth!

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The smell of books, the feeling of paper on your fingertips. If these invoke positive feelings, then you are in love with books. But is this treasured preference good even when you’re getting into bed? Will it affect your sleep? Should you read before bedtime?

Generally speaking, reading before going to bed is good as it distracts your attention from the stresses of life, helps you focus, and reduces anxiety by engaging you in a single structure narrative. This usually translates to a positive state and peaceful sleep!

In this post, you’ll discover the five benefits of reading before bed alongside the genres that are best for bedtime. Plus, I’ll also share my recommendations for the best books to read before bed.

So, bookmark the post for later reference and continue reading!

5 Benefits of Reading Before Bed

woman reading a book in bed
Woman reading a book in bed

There are actually several benefits of reading! I’ve shared over 21 benefits of reading in my previous article. So, be sure to check that out!

That said, here are some of the benefits of reading specifically before bedtime –

1. Reduces Stress

It is common for stress to build up in one’s mind during a hectic day. Since the mind is still reeling from the troubling details of the day, it is unable to rest.

One is also most likely to contemplate his to-do list for tomorrow while keeping track of all the things that may go wrong. No matter what the genre may be, delving into a good book allows you to take your mind off such situations and brings it peace.

2. Boosts Brain Power

Spending some time with a book provides you with a bulk of information that can either be applied in your life or used to make an informed decision.

Reading non-fiction is not the only way of attaining information, contrary to popular belief; even fiction can convey experience and metaphorical truths.

3. Improves Creativity

Reading takes you to unknown worlds and allows you to traverse unchartered territories, which prompts you to broaden your mind and develop a new perspective about the world. It boosts your creativity as you can connect different story elements.

This allows you to spend your time in a constructive manner while sharpening this soft skill.

4. Reduces Screen Time And Improves Concentration

Reading not only reduces the time we spend scrolling through our phones but also provides us with an efficient manner of improving concentration.

A number of factors throughout the day deteriorate our attention span, which can be rectified by focusing on a single plot or topic for even a brief amount of time.

5. Allows Us To Sleep Better

It is usual to read in an ideal and comfortable position which allows us to relax. Immersing yourself in a book can improve our sleep schedule by allowing our muscles to relax and slowing down our breathing.

The Sleep Council says that ‘39% of people who are in the habit of reading before they go to sleep, sleep very well.

How Long Should You Read Before Going to Bed?

Generally speaking, you can read for about 20 minutes to an hour before bedtime. Read long enough to help you feel drowsy, but ensure that you don’t compromise on the amount of sleep you usually get at night.

Although the recommended time varies from person to person, you can start off by reading for 20 minutes or so. This time can be reduced to fifteen or ten minutes if you find that you get sleepy before twenty minutes.

Similarly, the duration can be increased if you are unable to feel drowsy after the set time is over. However, this may require you to get in bed early to prevent your sleep time from being cut off.

What Should You Read Before Going to Sleep?

When reading before going to sleep, pick a book that helps you calm your senses. For instance, romance novels, comedy, family drama, or light fiction. Avoid choosing books that have a lot of plots, twists, turns such as action, horror, or thrillers as these will keep you awake longer.

Although what you should read at night varies from person to person, most experts suggest reading a book that would not awaken your senses to prevent ruining your sleep schedule.

Reading a romance novel would cause most people to fall asleep and, at the same time, would awaken some with the release of certain endorphins.

Thrillers may be boring for some or may help others sleep. The same is the case with history books, memoirs, or manuals.

Since this query is subjective, it is essential to test a few genres to see which works best for you as each person is different and is stimulated by different things. You can find the most suitable answer if you figure out your taste by experimenting with different types of books.

Reading motivational and self-help books is also a great choice for bedtime as our brain requires positive thoughts to relax.

The Secret Series, Rich Dad Poor Dad, Attitude Is Everything, The Superhero Soul, The Power Of Positive Thinking, The Daily Stoic, How To Win Friends and Influence People, and the 4-hour Workweek are a few recommendations in the genre of self-help and positivity.

However, if such books pump you up, making you want to hustle, then they may not be great segues to sleep.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you pick up books that kill your interest. Some experts are of the opinion that you should pick something that not only engages your mind but also entertains you as reading a boring book would not provide you with the experience that a pleasurable one would.

You are also least likely to develop a habit of reading at bedtime if you continue reading books that only serve the purpose of putting you to sleep.

Can It be Bad to Read Before Going to Bed?

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

Reading before going to bed as an activity is not bad for you. However, choosing technology as a medium to read instead of physical books can have some negative effects. For instance, research has shown that the blue light emitted from smartphones can keep you awake longer even when you are sleepy.

It can not be bad to read before bed, as numerous studies declare it to be a good choice. These studies suggest that reading in itself is not the phenomenon that puts you to sleep as it merely distracts you from the troubles of your day to help your mind and body relax, which in turn induces sleep. 

New research corroborates the negative effects of using technology before bed, a habit most of us have. Replacing this habit with that of reading is healthy for both your mind and body.

Many studies throw light on the positive relationship between reading and relaxation, and a few even refer to it as “R & R.”

A survey conducted by sleepJunkie found out that bedtime bookworms not only earned more money but also made healthier choices and had a better outlook on life when compared to people who did not have a habit of reading before bed. 

Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, says that “Typically when you read, you have more time to think. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight.”

Is it Better to Read Before Bed or in the Morning?

Reading before bed differs from reading in the morning mainly in the purpose. Reading before bedtime is usually done to soothe your senses, to fall asleep, or for general entertainment. Reading in the morning allows you to have a better focus, absorb more information, and take notes.

Most experts are of the opinion that reading at both times is good for you; the only difference comes in the genre. It is usually considered best to read fiction at night as it has worked more efficiently in allowing people to sleep better.

Similarly, experts suggest reading non-fiction with a fresh brain in the morning to stimulate your mind and prompt it to wake up your body.

Reading in the morning can help you enhance your intelligence, reduce stress, boost creativity, improve motivation and enhance communication skills because our mind is most alert, typically in the morning.

Is it Healthy to Read in Bed?

Image of Woman reading in bed wondering

It is healthy to read in bed as long as you maintain a good posture. Keep your back straight and don’t slouch. If needed, use a pillow or cushion to support your back. Stretch your legs straight on the bed. Raise the book to your eye level and avoid tilting your head forward to prevent neck strain.

That said, the most ergonomic position to read a book is when you are sitting at a desk. I’ve covered this topic in great detail in another article. Make sure you check out the other article – The Best Position to Read a Book!

A study undertaken by the University of Sussex was highlighted in the Telegraph in which the stress level of the number of participants was increased, and attempts were made to reduce it.

Cognitive Neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis found that ‘reading for just six minutes helped reduce stress levels by 68 percent,’ which was more than listening to music (61%), drinking tea or coffee (54%), and taking a walk (42%). 

That is because reading a good book can distract you from the daily stresses and worries of life and take your mind elsewhere. It also allows your muscles to relax, makes you feel calmer, and slows down your breathing.

Different time frames work differently for different people, but the general perception is to read until you start feeling drowsy.

Five Best Books to Read Before Bed:

Vessel by Cai Chongda 

Vessel is a memoir penned down by former GQ China editorial director and Mensmode founder Cai Chongda who paints an astounding picture of his childhood in a small town on the coast of China’s Fujian province.

The author notes his experiences of when he was forced to take the lead as the head of his household due to an unfortunate stroke of circumstance, which rendered his father unable to work. Little did he know that taking over as the head of his house would eventually lead him away from his home.

Click on the button below to check out the book on Amazon!

Gods Of Jade And Shadow by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia takes you to a world of Gods of Jade and Shadow through a satisfying journey.

The plot revolves around a young woman in 1920s Mexico who gets chosen by the Mayan god of death to help him reclaim his throne, which starts a series of adventurous journeys through cities and forests alike.

This mesmerizing book is a great option for distracting you from the worries of your life by painting an incredible picture that is hard to look away from.

The Last Garden In England by Julia Kelly 

The Last Garden in England’ moves between the Edwardian era, World War II, and the present day with a small group of women being the center of attention. These women hold a connection to a majestic estate, and one of them is tasked with designing the Highbury House gardens in 1907. 

Decades later, in 1944, three Highbury employees share a wartime secret, and the readers are then swept to the modern day where Venetia’s biggest fan uncovers magnanimous secrets from the estate’s storied past.

The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

The Wangs vs. The World is a hilarious and charming book written by Jade Chang, which follows the story of a wealthy Chinese family who becomes bankrupt and takes a trip to their eldest daughter, who still has money left.

Of course, nothing goes right on the way, but we sure get a stream of laughter and entertainment!

The Largesse Of The Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson 

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson is a compilation of short stories infused with so much humor and beauty that it is quite hard to put this book down.

It takes you to a colorful and mysterious world that serves as a source of great distraction, escape, and entertainment.

About the Author

Akansha is a former business journalist and a seasoned communications professional. She is the founder of TheBookBuff, an avid storyteller, and a lifelong biblophile! Check out her profile page to know more about Akansha.

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