Does Reading Before Bed Help You Sleep?

Are you having trouble sleeping? Do you want to read more books as a goal this year?

Do you find yourself thinking: Does reading before bed help you sleep?

The most successful CEOs and sleeping experts agree: it really does.

The real questions are how you would read and what books you need to keep on your bed stand.

Is Reading In Bed Bad For Sleep?

Let us first tackle the first question, which is how.

It will determine whether the bedtime ritual you’re planning to do is going to be beneficial for you or not.

There are two main reasons why some people are quite hesitant to read in bed.

1. They Believe That Reading in Bed Will Strain Their Eyes

There is some truth to this. According to the Raleigh Eye Center, reading in bed can strain the muscles surrounding your eyes.

This condition is known as asthenopia. While it won’t cause any permanent damage to your vision, it can still cause headaches, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and other related eye issues.

Asthenopia happens when you keep your eyes focused on a target that’s close to your face and at a weird angle, which is usually the case when you’re reading in bed.

Meanwhile, reading in dim lighting can also cause eye strain, according to Harvard Health.

Fortunately, you don’t really need to strain your eyes while reading in bed.

You just need to make sure that you are holding your book at a 60-degree angle and at least 15 inches away from your eyes.

It is also ideal to keep a desk lamp on your bed stand, preferably one that you can move and focus on your pages as you’re reading.

2. Reading Can Actually Keep You Awake

Moving on, some people also believe that reading can actually hinder you from falling asleep.

It is possible due to two factors: your lighting and your book.

First, reading can keep you awake due to the blue light that your eReader or similar portable digital device can expose you to while reading.

Beautiful woman reading ebook in bed, kept awake by blue light

Blue light is the type of glare produced by LED, fluorescent lighting, and most electronic devices.

It can impact the body’s internal sleep cycle, known as circadian rhythm.

According to the Sleep Foundation, artificial lighting coming from electronic devices can stimulate the brain and suppress the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for making us drowsy.

The second factor will depend on the type of book you’re reading.

There are simply some books you're not meant to read before sleeping. Horror, thriller, and action-filled reading materials, for instance, can keep us turning those pages until dawn.

It’s very easy to remedy these two factors.

Woman reading physical book with nightstand lamp on while husband sleeps

First, reading physical books under a lamp is still ideal as long as your light doesn’t have a harshly bright and cold glare.

We understand why some people prefer to read using a digital device with built-in lighting.

It’s portable, convenient, and the glare won’t disturb your sleeping partner as much as a lamp would.

If that’s the case, then we suggest looking into your device or reading app. Most have alternative lighting options.

Meanwhile, be selective with your reading material.

Before bed is the best time to tackle more serious books or those you find boring but still want to read.

With the tips we have shared with you in mind, we are confident that you’ll find reading as a better alternative than counting sheep before long.

Why Does Reading Before Bed Make You Sleepy?

There are four reasons why reading books help you make sleepy.

1. Relaxing

Reading is an activity frequently done while in a comfortable position, in a quiet place, and typically after all of the day's hustle and bustle are over.

Making reading a habit will further reinforce this mindset.

2. Relieves Anxiety

Reading can take our attention away from the things that can keep us up at night.

It focuses our mind on the pages of our book instead.

3. Tiring

We know what you’re thinking. We literally just said that reading is one of the most relaxing activities that you can do.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s not stimulating enough to get you tired.

Reading can definitely be exhausting not only for our mind but our eyes as well.

Thus, it is certainly an activity conducive to sleep.

4. We Are Conditioned To It

Woman reading to tired daugher child in bed

This reason applies to those who have grown up being read to at night.

If you have found yourself getting lulled to sleep by bedtime stories as a child, then it is highly likely that you will find reading before bed effective in helping you fall asleep as an adult as well.

Does Reading Before Bed Help You Sleep?

This leads us to the main question. The answer is yes.

Reading before bed can certainly help you sleep, especially if you’re all cozied up when doing so and have taken all the precautionary measures from blue light exposure.

Don’t forget to be more selective with your books as well. 

What Should I Read Before Sleeping?

Apart from answering "Does reading before bed help you sleep?", you must also know what are the right books to help you fall asleep.

The world’s most successful people like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk mostly recommend non-fiction books.

They also suggest self-help or any reading material that can really get you thinking.

While they don’t discourage fiction, we recommend reading more exciting pieces some other time.

Otherwise, you risk waking yourself up instead.

Below are some books straight from Bezos, Gates, and Musk’s recommended list.

Memos From the Chairman by Alan C. Greenberg

This book presents a tried-and-tested management philosophy based on common sense, morality, and humility.

It’s been read and applied not only by Jeff Bezos but countless other successful people like Tom Peters and Warren Buffett.

The lessons this book has are obviously geared towards running a business, but you can easily apply them to other aspects of your life like goal achievement and social interaction.

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

One of Gate’s highly recommended, this book explores the progress of human civilization and the decline of humankind’s violent nature.

It is an intriguing perspective coming from a psychological and historical approach.

Apparently, despite the ceaseless news we hear about terrorism and other senseless violence, our world is actually the most peaceful it has ever been.

Hence, we highly recommend it for people who are experiencing anxiety towards related issues.

It can help you see things in a different and more calming light.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

You’ve probably heard about this literary classic already. It’s one of Elon Musk’s favorite books.

It’s a great and long bedtime story written in poetic language that can inspire and empower you.

Some lines read like music which can be relaxing and lulling.

A word of warning, though. We admit that there are a lot of page-turners in this book, especially if you’re a fan of high fantasy. So read this at your own risk!

There are definitely libraries of books out there that you can dive into, aside from the ones we have shared above.

We personally find Russian classics particularly effective in achieving that drowsy reflective state for sleeping.

Does Reading Make You Sleepy?

Does reading make you sleepy, young man reading in bed from a hard cover book

Having difficulties in falling asleep can be very detrimental to one’s health and quality of life.

There are different things you can do to invite the comforting drowsiness, including various treatments and therapies.

Most people tend to forget, though, that sometimes the solution to your crippling insomnia can be as simple as establishing a reading habit before bed.

Reading is an activity that can put you in a place of comfort, take your mind away from your daily worries, and encourage you to drift to the land of dreams with ease.

It will also help you meet your reading goals, learn new things, and find success in life.