At Once Upon a Book Club, we are all about the joy of books, and reading before bed is one of our favorite activities. There is something simply glorious about being snuggled up under the blankets with a great book, so we were delighted to find out that it actually helps you sleep better. It’s true; adding reading to your bedtime routine takes it to a new level of winding down! It’s our grown-up version of bedtime stories.
How does reading before bed help you sleep better?
If you’re like us, the stresses of the day mount up, and unless you distract yourself before nodding off to sleep, you’re bound to lie there wide awake, reviewing today, planning tomorrow, and creating action items while secretly praying you’ll remember them all.
And if you’re in any doubt as to whether or not reading helps you sleep, just think back to the times you’ve dozed off with a book in hand!
It's all about relaxing
Taking your mind off today and tomorrow has never been easier than when you immerse yourself in a great book. And in case you doubt our wisdom, one study showed that reading for a mere 6 minutes reduces stress by up to 68%. Lower levels of stress and anxiety is definitely a winner in our book.
Let’s be honest; exchanging the day’s stresses and tomorrow’s to-do list for a great book sounds like the ideal way to prepare for the perfect night’s sleep. Reading helps calm our minds; it quiets those racing thoughts - here at Once Upon a Book Club, we think of reading as a form of meditation. Books are the best forms of escapism, and traveling to new worlds and meeting new people from the comfort of a bed is the perfect way to end the day.
Routine and signals for sleep
When you read every night before bed, you’re setting a routine and signaling your body and mind that it’s time to wind down – sleep is calling. Scrolling through your social media or attending to those last-minute emails isn’t renowned for bringing on sleep or relaxing you! We find reading is a far better option.
And speaking about winding down, reading goes a long way to reducing your exposure to blue light before bed. Blue light is known to interfere with your body's natural production of melatonin, which is crucial to help regulate sleep. So let’s tick one hormone challenge off the list!
Picture the scene
A movie or your favorite series may seem like the ideal solution to lull you to sleep, but then there’s that “next episode” button or the shattering of your sleep by a loud noise. Never ideal! But moving on swiftly, picture the scene – you, your duvet, a cup of herbal tea, and a great book (sounds amazing to us.)
The time for moving about mentally and physically is over, it’s time to relax, unwind and become engrossed in your book (even if it is only for 6 minutes!); let your troubles fade into the distance – you can worry about them tomorrow. For now, it’s time to rest.
What types of books are best for reading before bed?
When it comes to choosing a great book for your bedtime ritual, there are a few things to keep in mind, like a horror story may not be your best bet. And that never-ending complicated novel, it’s probably best to leave that for your weekend afternoons.
- Light and easy
We find it’s best to read books that are light and easy and don’t require a huge amount of mental effort – no straining the brain before bed. A light-hearted romance or mystery always works for us, or another one of our favorites is a collection of short stories.
- Nothing too thrilling
You need an engaging book to keep your attention, but as we said, horrors may not be your best bet. Anything that will have you biting your nails or wondering what that noise down the hallway is should be left on the shelf for the moment.
- Perhaps a little bit of non-fiction
There are plenty of great non-fiction books which make the ideal bed companion; from memoirs to self-help books, the choices are endless. Just keep it light and easy!
How long should you read before bed?
While the study says you will reap the benefits after 6 minutes, that simply won’t work for us bookworms. The general recommendation is to read for anything from 15 – 30 minutes before bedtime which is ample time to relax before turning off the light.
But in all honesty, there isn’t a one size fits all answer, but if you find yourself getting too absorbed and you’re wide awake, you’re either reading for too long or you couldn’t resist that thriller! We recommend reading until you start feeling drowsy; you may want to start with 15 minutes and take it from there.
Reading before bed should be part of everyone’s bedtime ritual. Besides being our favorite activity, anything that reduces stress, relieves anxiety, and calms our minds is right at the top of our list. So grab a book, and a cup of tea, jump into bed, and get ready for a great night’s sleep.