Benefits Of Reading Before Bed
written by sleep expert Lauren Hall
Benefits Of Reading Before Bed:
We’ve probably all been nagged once in our life to read before bed, probably by a parent, but there are some serious benefits to bedtime reading that cannot go unmissed. Reading a book before bedtime is one of the best ways to wind down, relieve stress levels, and help improve sleep quality.
But why should you read before bed?
You don’t need to be a bookworm or avid reader to reap the benefits of reading before bed– you don’t need to be a kid to have a bedtime story. It turns out there is a lot of research that supports reading before bed; reading for as little as 6 minutes before you sleep can reduce stress levels by up to 70%!
This means that reading before bed can make falling asleep much easier as your body and mind are relaxed, so you spend less time in the light sleep stages and progress into the deep sleep stages and dreaming stages much faster. This can help you achieve the most restorative night’s rest.
But wait, get this!
Did you know that too much blue light exposure from using your electronic devices before bed can actually detriment your sleep quality? This is because blue light suppresses the body’s release of melatonin, which is a hormone that induces sleep, so after scrolling endlessly through Instagram, you might struggle to fall asleep!
So reading before bed can help stop you from using your electronic devices before you sleep and help you fall asleep much easier and achieve those enriching stages of sleep. There are so many benefits of reading a book before bed on both your health and your sleep which I will go through in more detail!
So stay tuned; some of these benefits may shock you; it’s time to grab a book and start reading, my friend!
Top Reading Before Bed Benefits
Adding reading a book to your bedtime routine has some major benefits on your well-being; it can firstly start by helping promote your natural circadian rhythm of the sleep/wake cycle so you can progress through the stages of sleep easily and help promote melatonin production.
So let’s delve into these enriching benefits of reading bedtime stories or any book before bed!
Reduces Stress and Anxiety:
There are some serious benefits of reading a book before bed that is correlated with relieving stress and anxiety, helping you fall asleep quicker and easier. It distracts your brain with new information or someone else’s story, taking your mind off your own troubles and helping relax your mind.
This can help you fall asleep easier and faster.
Reading a book before bed can help combat insomnia too, there is a study that indicates that reading for six minutes before bed can reduce stress by 68%. Reading a book is more relaxing than listening to calming music or drinking tea!
Reading a good book before going to bed is almost like a soothing massage for the mind; it allows your brain to process new information without having to engage in any other activity. It facilitates the creation of new memories, which can help with dreaming when you fall asleep.
Bedtime reading is well known to relieve stress. Reading can help relax the mind in more ways than any other sleep technique. It can improve sleep hygiene and help the bedroom become the ideal sleep environment so your mind associates that room with sleeping rather than other activities.
The contents of the book don’t matter; as long as it is interesting to you, it can distract your mind from your own troubles in the world, which can help relieve stress levels. But why is stress so bad for sleep, and why is it hard to fall asleep when you’re stressed?
Well, sleep can disrupt your sleep cycles. Stress is known to decrease time spent in the light and deep sleep stages and increase time spent in REM sleep, which is why stress is often correlated with recurring nightmares and dreaming. But while REM is important, the deep sleep stages are most restorative.
So by reading, reducing stress by up to 70% can help your mind relax and help you progress through the sleep cycles properly.
Helps Improve Sleep Quality:
Reading before bed is a good habit to get into, whether you love a hardback or a paper book. It can help relax the mind and prepare your body for sleep by relieving stress levels; this can help you fall asleep quicker and easier, so you wake up feeling energized rather than restless and sleep-deprived.
Reading a book doesn’t require much effort; you can relax your whole body while reading and let your mind doze off.
While the number of hours you’re sleeping is important, your sleep quality is even more important, you could get 10 hours of sleep per night, but if it is fragmented, it is like getting 4 or 5 hours as your body is not reaching those deep sleep stages which are the most restorative so you wake up feeling tired and feel restless during the day.
By reading before bed, you can switch off from the world around you and focus on relaxing your mind and body so you can fall asleep easier and achieve those deep sleep stages that will really refresh your mind.
However, you should always try to read a paper book over reading an e-bike on your iPad. This is because the blue light emitted from these electronic gadgets can suppress the production of melatonin which can mess with your circadian rhythms, so you’ll find yourself struggling to fall asleep after.
Kindles and e-readers are better, but they require you to be in a well-lit room, which can mess with the production of melatonin as the ideal environment for relaxation is a dim room and relaxing your body by reading books, so by having to be in a well-lit room can defeat the object.
Great For Mental Health and Creativity:
Reading a good book before bed can boost creativity, so you wake up, and your mind is flowing with new ideas. Just like exercising early in the morning, reading before bed can help flex your brain muscles and stimulate creativity and imagination. You may even have some more vivid dreams in the night!
Rather than scrolling endlessly through Instagram or TikTok, reading a few chapters of a good book can help to calm your mind while you can engage in topics that spark your interest. Plus, less harmful light exposure comes from your smartphone or tablet.
Reading for as little as 6 minutes a night can reduce stress levels and help you fall asleep easier.
Some of the most successful people, like Elon Musk, learned how to build a Tesla from reading a book; reading on a subject that you are interested in goes far beyond gaining new information. Reading books helps you spark new ideas, whether you are reading facts or fiction.
Bedtime reading paired with a good night’s rest can help strengthen your brain’s functions and help get the creative juices flowing. Plus, during the night, your brain will make all the connections, so you will wake up feeling more certain on decisions– that’s where the saying sleep on it comes from.
Improves Sleep Hygiene:
Sleep hygiene is the practice to help improve the quality of sleep; it was created back in the 70s to help combat insomnia. It is a behavioral and environmental practice to help your body fall asleep easier, such as optimizing the sleep environment and practicing relaxation techniques before bed.
Setting a half an hour routine before bed for relaxation such as reading, practicing meditation exercises, and/or focusing on your breathing can help relax the mind and associate that time with winding down. Reading is a brilliant way to relax the mind and help you achieve deeper sleep easier.
Also, optimizing the bedroom environment is a brilliant way to help improve sleep quality. Keeping your bedroom temperature cool but comfortable will help make it easier for your body temperature to drop a degree in order to reach those deep sleep stages.
Also by relaxing and reading a book in a dim environment, it can help relax your mind and body as well as produce melatonin. Using a yellow or yellow and white book light for reading in bed is recommended as it is far less bright than a lamp and helps you relax without disturbing your partner.
Decreases Screen Time:
The more time you spend reading a single book, the less time you are exposed to your smartphone or tablet. Blue light emitted from your devices suppresses your brain’s ability to secrete melatonin, the hormone responsible for inducing sleep.
So by watching tv, scrolling through your phone, or doing work on your laptop before bed can detriment your quality of sleep. The good thing about reading is that it takes your mind off these gadgets and it can help relax your mind so you can get the most enriching night’s rest.
Also, limit yourself from using e-books before bed because some actually emit a blue light filter, which can detriment sleep.
If you don’t enjoy reading, then writing a to-do list for 10-15 minutes before bed can help relax your mind and help you get asleep much easier. So, either reading a physical book or writing notes can help the natural progression of the circadian rhythm, the sleep-wake cycle.
We all have a hectic schedule sometimes that our mind becomes fatigued and struggles to concentrate, just by reading for five to ten minutes a night can help stimulate your brain as well as relax your mind so you can reach those really enriching sleep stages and feel well-rested and revived in the morning.
Immersing yourself in a story or chapter about a topic that interests you, you can capture pictures and use your imagination rather than scroll through Instagram or update your status and not be able to sleep because of the blue light exposure.
You can stay focused on a single plot or topic for several hours; this can help improve concentration as it can help improve your attention span. Plus, by getting better quality sleep, your mind can create cognitive repairs and connections, so you wake up feeling refreshed rather than fatigued.
Reading helps force your mind to process information without the need for visual aids, smartphones, or your laptop. This will help train your brain to concentrate and help stimulate your imagination and creativity. Who knew there were so many benefits of reading??
Reading can help improve your empathy; by engaging in a story, you put yourself in other people’s shoes and consider their problems and different perspectives. Every book has a plot that connects to a certain extent, so while reading, we subconsciously become part of the plot.
We become invested in all the thoughts and feelings of the characters; we feel the way that the characters are supposed to feel as we try to understand their pain. There is actually research that suggests that regular reading can make you become more of an empathetic person.
Narratives offer a unique opportunity to engage in the book, as we identify with characters’ longings and frustrations, hidden motives, and we are able to track their encounters with friends, enemies, neighbors, lovers.
Also, a good reader also becomes a good listener, which is another form of empathy and understanding.
Helps With Relaxation:
Reading a book before bed can really help with mental relaxation; this is because our body is not focusing on the stresses in the world but rather focusing on a story, whether it is a fact or fictional. It helps our mind and body relax before going to sleep, which helps us reach those deep sleep stages easier.
This will lead to you waking up feeling well-rested, having more energy and motivation for the day ahead of you. By sleeping before bed, you are helping your body wind down for the day rather than focus on all the different thoughts bouncing around in your head.
While reading, you are also ideally comfortable, no more moving from place to place, pacing around your room. You can take the time for yourself to get engrossed in your book, your troubles will fade into the distance, and you won’t need to worry about them.
In conclusion, reading is extremely beneficial for both achieving a better quality of sleep. If you’re not an avid reader, then spending the time looking through a book store to find a book that grips you will help you incorporate reading into your daily routine so you can achieve the very best night’s sleep.
Reading makes sleeping much easier, so you can fall asleep easily. It’s more than just a bedtime story like you used to have every night before bed as children; reading a gripping book can help relieve stress and take away the worries of everyday life.
This will not only improve the quality of sleep but also your mindset for everyday life.
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