Reading in bed a is nighttime ritual for many people, but does it promote sleep and general good health?
How does reading affect sleep?
While there have been many studies that proves reading helps reduce stress, some sources note that the simple act of reading allows the mind to calm down and focus. Alaska Sleep points out that reading prevents the mind from wandering about problems or challenges.
There is also a theory about regular eye movement. As Wonderopolis explains, “as your brain works hard and your eye muscles tire, it’s only natural that they would need rest,” and your eyes will gradually close.
Dreams.co.uk also considers the possibility that reading will make you sleepy because you are in bed. “This happens because your body has conditioned itself to associate that place with sleep. So when your muscles begin to relax, a domino effect may occur as your body slowly enters sleep mode against your will!”
What should you read before bed?
The Sleep Doctor recommends fiction because it’s more relaxing.
Book Riot suggests something short, since most people read for less than an hour before going to sleep.
Not sure which book to choose? Sign up for the Read to Sleep newsletter sponsored by Penguin Random House.
Is reading in bed bad for you?
Reading in bed can put a strain on your neck and lower body, according to Sleep Advisor, and recommends using a wedge pillow. If a wedge pillow is not an option, pillows under your knees, propped behind your back, on your lap to rest your arms are just a few of the tips they offer to increase circulation and avoid pain.
Does the reading light matter?
Different types of light can affect your quality of sleep, so The National Sleep Foundation encourages people to learn more about sleep lighting technology. This includes smart bulbs, as well as smartphone apps and voice-assisted tech devices that offers wireless control over the lighting.
If you want to use a book light, The Chicago Tribune offers a buying guide that looks at different types, power sources, adjustable settings and prices.
Prefer a nightstand lamp? Sleep.org discourages getting anything that requires a bulb over 60 watts.
What about blue light?
In 2014, researchers from the University of Texas found “that the use of portable light-emitting devices immediately before bedtime has biological effects that may perpetuate sleep deficiency and disrupt circadian rhythms, both of which can have adverse impacts on performance, health, and safety.”
However, in 2019, a research team from the University of Manchester experimented with lights that were in different hues but had equal brightness. They concluded that “contrary to common beliefs, it is yellow rather than blue colors that have the strongest effect on the mammalian circadian system”.
The Sleep Foundation argues that using any electronic devices before bed interferes with the quantity and quality of sleep. It recommends removing all technology from the bedroom, including e-readers.
Bedtime reading isn’t for everyone, and it doesn’t guarantee sleepiness or a good night’s sleep. Yet readers like to incorporate the activity in their nighttime rituals because it’s an enjoyable and gentle method to unwind and relax.
Looking for a bedtime story? Try one of these romance novellas.