If you ever struggle to get off to sleep at night or have mornings where you wake before the alarm clock goes off you are not alone. In the age of high technology, we often entertain ourselves with electronic devices in the evenings, but are we missing out on the benefits of a book at bedtime? Read on to find out how reading before bedtime could help you to sleep better.
Helping us to get off to sleep
Undoubtedly the biggest benefit to reading for an hour before bedtime is that it helps make us tired in natural way. It takes a lot of brain power to process what we are reading. Our brains use up to 20% of the energy that our body needs, so stimulating the brain by reading before bedtime is great way to make us tired. Many avid readers will recognise the feeling when we read the same line several times over because reading has made us so tired.
The stuff that dreams are made on
If you don’t often remember your dreams, reading before bedtime could help you to do so. As we read we create mental imagery of the characters and scenes that the book describes. To do this we use the areas of the brain that are most active when we are dreaming. Limbering up these neurons and synapses between regions of our brains before we go to sleep may help us to dream a dream that we remember.
Books are brain food
If you are studying, reading your textbooks or notes at bedtime can help you commit important facts to memory. Research shows that taking a rest after reading, not only helps the brain to store memories but also in the process of recalling memory. It is known that our brains use the times we are asleep to process the experiences and thoughts we have during our waking hours.
Whilst reading our study notes or textbooks might not be the most enjoyable reading at bedtime, the restful sleep we get at bedtime could actually help us to learn and recall important information.
Real books not e-books
Whilst reading at bedtime can help us get ready for a great night’s sleep it is really important to make sure we’re reading a real book. It is widely accepted that our use of backlit screens from smartphones, laptops, tablet computers and TVs are responsible for disrupting our sleep.
If you prefer to use an e-reader instead of a real book, use one with an e-ink screen that does not need any backlighting. Reading from a book downloaded onto a tablet with a backlight screen should be avoided.
The reason for not reading from backlit screens is that backlit screens produce a pale blue light which is similar to the light in natural daylight, which stimulates our brains to be awake. It is thought that the close proximity in which we use smartphones, tablets and laptops makes them particularly bad for our sleep. Whether you enjoy reading or not, we can help ourselves sleep by restricting the use of these devices in the hour before bedtime.
A quick fix
Not being able to get off to sleep is a problem that happens to most of us from time to time. The frustration from not being able to sleep can make sleep even less likely. Our tip here is not to lie there staring at the ceiling imploring sleep to take over, but to switch on your bedside lamp and read for 10 – 15 minutes. Even short spells of reading can be enough to make us tired and ready for sleep.
Not read in a while and need some inspiration?
If you aren’t a regular reader or just need some inspiration for something new to read, why not visit the Richard and Judy book club where you’ll find some great reviews of new releases. If there’s nothing that grabs your attention from the current new releases, visit their archive pages where you’ll find reviews that go back to 2011.
We hope that this blog post has inspired you to give the most enjoyable sleep tip, reading at bedtime a try. If you’ve got any top tips for a great bedtime read, why not leave us a comment here on the blog? Thanks for reading.