The benefits of reading before bedtime


Fans of mystery novels and heart-pounding thrillers know how easy it is to get sucked in to a good book. Before you know it, you’ve been up half the night turning the pages to find out what happens next. While reading a suspenseful novel before bedtime may not be the greatest idea, reading in the evening is actually a great way to prepare for sleep. If you’re hoping to improve your shut eye, check out these eye-opening tips on how to reap the benefits of reading before bedtime.

Both the National Sleep Foundation and the National Institute of Health both recommend reading in the evening as a way to prepare for sleep. Research shows that following an evening routine that includes relaxing activities can regulate your body’s natural clock. To maximize the benefits of reading before bedtime, start by establishing a time you’ll go to sleep every night. About an hour beforehand, find a quiet spot with no distractions and let yourself unwind as you read. Try it every night for a week or two, and you’ll probably find that reading not only improves your ability to fall asleep – but also to stay asleep throughout the night.

While reading can definitely help you get a good night’s sleep, the best way to reap the benefits of bedtime reading is to pick up an actual book – like the latest Jack Davis paperback. Recent studies have shown that electronic devices stimulate brain activity, and an active brain makes it much harder to fall asleep. Even worse, the backlight from your favorite gadget can interfere with your brain’s chemicals, reducing melatonin and disrupting your internal clock. To ensure good sleep, try to avoid picking up your tablet, smartphone or computer in the last hour before bed.

So what’s an eReader to do? If you can’t put down your iPad or Kindle, there a few tricks you can use to help you reap the benefits of reading before bedtime. Experts recommend sticking with a text only eReader – like a Kindle – and dimming the screen as much as possible without impairing your vision. Better yet, “reverse” the text on your eReader – making the background black and the words white – to create a darker environment and reduce your expose to backlight.

Of course, a little common sense goes a long way when it comes to the benefits of reading before bedtime. Study materials, homework, or work-related books will stimulate your brain, so stick with reading for pleasure in the evenings. Save the new Lou Mason thriller for your bus ride home, and opt for a cozy mystery or familiar crime fiction favorite that’s less like to get your heart racing or your adrenaline pumping. Finally, be sure to set a “bedtime alarm” when you’ll put down your book. If you wind up staying up late to turn the pages, you’ll defeat the purpose. Just kick back, relax, and enjoy a good book to get a good night’s sleep – and let the good time roll!