Benefits of Reading Before Bed

Posted by Darian Dozier on Sep 27, 2023 8:16:00 AM

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On this site, we talk a lot about sleep hygiene and creating a good sleep routine. One activity that is often recommended is reading a book before bed. Reading before bed is a fun, relaxing activity that often does not expose you to blue light (unless you read on an electronic device) and can help your brain wind down before bed. 

Continue reading to learn the benefits of reading before bed and other tips to help optimize this activity.

Benefits of reading before bed

Reading before bed is a classic sleep hygiene technique that can help you get a good night's rest. Taking time to read something that you enjoy can help you reduce stress and allow your mind and body to relax before bed.

Reading prior to sleep has also been shown to be beneficial for children's brain development. Their vocabulary grows with the number of words that they are exposed to. Reading can help with this process, and can lead to their improvement and success in school. Experts recommend reading to children fro at least 20 minutes a day. This could be a good wind-down time with your family before bed. 

Your brain development can benefit as well, as reading can help prevent cognitive decline as you age. As you get older, it becomes harder to learn and process new information. Reading books from various genres can help continue training your brain. It exercises the brain's ability to comprehend different types of information, think about what it means, and connect it to existing pieces of information.

Engaging in activities that use your brain power can help to protect against neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's.  

The best formats for reading

There are so many formats for reading, that it can be hard to know if they are all as beneficial. At the end of the day, traditional books are the best option. eReaders and tablets are going to be the most convenient. However, the continued exposure to blue light is too intense for nighttime. Your brain should be receiving as little light as possible before going to bed. This is what triggers the release of melatonin. Blue light, which is emitted from all screens, can interrupt this process, making it harder to go to bed. This is counter productive if the whole point of you reading was for you to learn how to relax enough for a good night's rest.  

The best way to overcome that issue if you feel like you must use a tablet is to use the nighttime setting on the tablet, or wear blue light blocking glasses which can reduce the amount that your eyes are expose to. 

What you're reading is also important. It's important to read something that interests you as you should want to look forward to reading at the end of the night. If your daytime consists of reading many things you don't like, then to switch it up at night to something you do enjoy. Audiobooks are okay as well, as long as you turn them off before going to sleep as the noise could be disruptive at night. 

How to incorporate reading into your schedule

It may sound ideal to get in bed with a nice book, but sometimes finding the time to do that doesn't seem possible. Following a bedtime routine can help with this as it gets you in bed at a decent enough time to begin reading. 

A bedtime ritual signals to the brain that it is time to go to sleep, therefore, reading before bed can be a part of this routine. Have a plan for your evenings and write it down. Start with what time you want to go to bed and work backwards, adding in activities and how long they'll take before bed. This will help you set aside time to get a good night's rest. Take baby steps to make this happen, and try to be consistent. That is the only way to know if it helps you get better sleep, or if something else may be going on.   

If you struggle getting a good night's rest, and don't think reading is helping you, then please click the orange button below to take a free online sleep test and talk with one of our sleep health professionals. 

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