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How to sleep: Can reading a book before bed improve your night’s sleep?




Luckily for bedtime bookworms, there is recent research that suggests that reading is a great way to improve the quality of your sleep. But there are a few things you need to know before adding it to your routine.

A study involving 991 people, published last year found that roughly 40 percent of people who read before bed felt like their sleep had improved.

The trial, which was organised by researchers affiliated with Oxford University and The University of Ireland, Galway, stated: “Reading a book in bed before going to sleep improved sleep quality, compared to not reading a book in bed.”

Another sleep expert, Lisa Artis, Deputy CEO of the Sleep Charity, told Express.co.uk that reading before bed is a “great alternative to tech-led activities” such as watching TV before bed.

Yet, there are a few important caveats to think about before deciding whether to read before bed.

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E-readers are better than normal screens

Reading from an e-reader, such as a kindle, will help you improve your sleep more than reading from a screen.

“Light and dark are strong cues in telling your body when it’s time to wake up or go to sleep, so we need to be mindful of any devices emitting strong light,” explained Artis.

“Some e-readers now offer a paper-like view which minimises the harsh blue light emitted.

“Blue light from these devices has the capacity to prevent the hormones that make us sleepy from being produced.”


As part of winding down your body before sleep, it is also important not to focus too much on your preparations for sleep.

“If your preparations in the hours leading to bedtime are keeping you awake, alert and worried, then the chances are your sleep will be negatively impacted,” Artis said.

If you are struggling with sleep, the NHS recommends trying some of the following routine changes:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day

  • Relax at least one hour before bed

  • Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet, use an eye mask if needed

  • Exercise regularly during the day

  • Make sure your mattress, pillows, and covers are comfortable.

You may need to visit your GP if changing your sleeping habits to make them more healthy has not worked, or if your sleep problems have persisted for months.

If your sleep issues are affecting your daily life to the point where you can’t cope, this should also prompt you to visit the doctor.

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