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Reading before bed improves sleep quality in both children and adults

Posted on March 7th, 2023

Part of a good bedtime routine for both children and adults includes taking time to wind down before trying to sleep. And a great way to do that is to spend time reading each night. 

Reading for pleasure offers lots of benefits. It helps…

  • Boost your capacity for empathy
  • Build your vocabulary
  • Reduce your risk of age-related cognitive decline 

Reading before bed can also help you fall asleep more easily and stay asleep for longer. Here’s how reading can positively impact your sleep: 

Reading before bed eases stress and anxiety. 

Many people have trouble sleeping because worries and other emotional disturbances plague their minds and prevent them from relaxing. But reading for thirty minutes before bed can distract your brain and offer as much stress relief as yoga. 

Reading before bed helps with insomnia

Insomnia negatively impacts both your physical and emotional well-being. But reading before bed can help. Reading before bed can de-stimulate your brain. And it can distract you from painful or worrisome thoughts or emotions. That way, you can relax and fall asleep. 

Reading before bed helps you sleep longer. 

Some people have no problem falling asleep initially, but they wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. Reading before bed for a short while can help with this. Reading promotes a calm, peaceful state of mind, which helps your brain stay at rest until morning. 

Reading before bed enhances your sleep quality. 

For all the reasons discussed above, reading before bed can enhance your sleep quality. It helps you feel calm and relaxed. And it helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. 

What book format should you use? 

E-readers and apps make reading more convenient. They allow you to read on a tablet or your phone. You can read pretty much anywhere without being weighed down by a physical book. You can also gain instant access to a huge variety of books. You basically have a personal library at your fingertips. 

But reading on your phone or eReader at bedtime exposes you to blue light, which can disrupt your sleep. Blue light can…

  • Decrease your REM sleep 
  • Delay your circadian rhythm 
  • Impede your body’s melatonin production 
  • Make falling asleep more difficult 
  • Lead you to feel less alert when you wake up

So if you’re reading to help you fall asleep, you’ll fare better with paper books. Limit your use of eReaders and apps to daytime reading. 

Alternatively, audiobooks are also a great option. Audiobooks are especially useful if you have any type of vision impairment, are unable to hold a book, or have reading difficulties. And listening to an audiobook can help just about anyone destress and feel more relaxed at bedtime. 

What types of books should you read or listen to? 

You have millions of choices when it comes to your reading options. And the best reading material for you largely depends on personal preferences. But if you’re reading close to bedtime, here are some tips about your book choices:  

  • Choose books that deal with lighter subjects. 
  • Don’t choose books that are too scary or disturbing. 
  • Choose books that are entertaining but not so engrossing that you can’t put them down

Ideally, you want to choose books that you enjoy. But you don’t want the books to be so stimulating that they make you stay awake longer.

Tips to optimize your bedtime reading routine

To get the biggest positive impact from reading before bed, try these tips:

Read in a comfortable location – You want to be comfortable when you’re reading to help you feel as relaxed as possible. That said, you should try not to read in bed. You should reserve your bed for sleep and sex, especially if you have trouble falling asleep. 

Pay attention to lighting – Dim your lights around two hours before you go to bed and while you’re reading. This helps you transition into sleep mode. 

Create a relaxing ambiance – To make your reading experience extra relaxing, set the mood with candles, aromatherapy, or soft music without vocals. 

Get ready for bed before you start reading – The goal behind reading before bed is to help you fall asleep. So get ready for bed by brushing your teeth and putting on your pajamas before you start reading. That way, you don’t have to do these things after you feel sleepy. 

Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website:

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