Those of you who want to cultivate a habit of reading might be attracted to the possibility of including reading in your nighttime routine. After all, evenings are a part of the day that’s completely in our control and finding a chunk of time for reading prior to going to bed is a lot easier than squeezing it in the morning. If you’ve ever asked yourself “is it OK if I read in bed?”, our article will help you decide whether implementing this habit in your nighttime routine is a good idea.
In the paragraphs below, we’ll explore all the potential benefits of reading in bed and offer a glimpse into some of the drawbacks that come with this habit. Additionally, we will go over the differences between reading paperbacks and eReaders in bed, and offer you some eReader suggestions in case you want to make that investment. At the end of our article, you will find an FAQ section where we answer some common questions you might have about reading in bed, so let’s get started.
Benefits of Reading in Bed
We have heard of the many benefits that come with reading, such as better vocabulary, improved concentration, and increased empathy, to name a few. In this section, however, we will cover solely those that pertain to reading in bed and how reading can impact your sleep.
One of the biggest changes implementing reading in bed can bring to your life is decreased stress levels. Due to the fast-paced world we live in where it’s common to be stressed, we could all use any stress relief we can before going to bed. Reading is a fun and simple way to effectively decrease your stress levels and relax before finally drifting off to sleep.
Just like yoga and meditation, reading can reduce stress almost immediately. Even reading for only 20 minutes a day can significantly lower your stress levels, and most of us can manage to squeeze in 20 minutes of reading in our nighttime routines. Needless to say, stress can negatively impact sleep and can lower our sleep quality, so adding a routine that can help with that is always a good idea.
Moreover, studies have shown that reading can improve our sleep quality as well, so it’s safe to say that it’s a habit that will positively impact various aspects of our lives.
Reading as a Distraction
Stress keeps us up at night and it’s often accompanied by worrisome thoughts, overthinking, and anxiety. Reading can be a wonderful tool that can help distract us from those anxious thoughts and provide an escape from our day-to-day problems. By the time we finish the given chapter, we will be more relaxed and the amount of worry and anxiety we experience will be lowered, giving our bodies the chance to start winding down and getting ready for bed.
Reading Can Help with Insomnia
Reading can also be helpful if you’re dealing with insomnia. While it shouldn’t be the only treatment you rely on, incorporating reading into your bedtime routine can help calm down those racing thoughts most of us experience before bed.
Please keep in mind that if you’re suffering from insomnia and it’s impacting your quality of sleep and general quality of life, we suggest that you visit a professional.
Reading Can Help with Feelings of Loneliness
Loneliness hits especially hard at night, right before we drift off to sleep. While it doesn’t directly affect our sleep quality, it’s rarely a good note to end the day on. Reading, especially fiction, has been shown to be incredibly helpful in dealing with symptoms of loneliness, which can help put us in a more relaxed and happy state of mind.
The more we read, the more knowledge we accumulate. Reading before bed is an easy way to dedicate a chunk of your time from your day to this habit that can potentially make you smarter and sharper. We process information while we sleep, so if there’s a subject you’ve always wanted to learn more about, you can try picking up a book related to it and reading it before bed to optimise your information retention.
Reading Improves Concentration
Apart from providing a brain boost, reading can significantly increase your attention span and improve your ability to concentrate on long tasks. This will come as no surprise to you, seeing that productive reading requires us to divert all our attention to a single task and keep at it for long periods of time.
Reading before bed is a great habit to include in your nighttime routine as a substitute for scrolling through social media, which is quite detrimental to our attention span if we don’t do it with caution. Cultivating the habit of reading can significantly improve your performance on tasks that require all your attention and mental faculties, such as your work or complex problem-solving activities and games.
Reading Helps Us Relax
What better way to prepare for bed than finding a comfortable position, curling up with our book, and drinking a warm beverage? Reading helps us relax to a significant degree and knowing it’s your last task for the day can help you get in the mood for sleep.
Improving Our Creativity
Another benefit that comes with reading before bed is helping us become more creative. There are many habits that cultivate creative energy within ourselves, such as journaling and painting. Reading is an easy way to get a quick creative boost because it removes us from our own lives for a dedicated period of time and forces us to entertain a different perspective than ours, thus broadening our minds.
If you do decide to implement reading before bed, don’t be surprised if you notice your creativity spilling into other areas of your life.
What About Children?
We explored some of the benefits that come with reading in bed for adults, but do these benefits apply to children as well?
Implementing reading into your child’s bedtime routine can be just as beneficial for children as it’s for adults. Not only does it aid relaxation, but it comes with benefits that can have a positive impact on your children’s life, such as improving their overall sleep quality and the duration of their sleep. Other non-sleep-related benefits include increased school performance, empathy, and imagination.
If your child is old enough, they can explore the joy of reading in bed themselves. If they’re too young to read by themselves, or if they prefer to be read to, you can always start by offering to read them a bedtime story or a poem – a habit that can have similar benefits with developing children.
Should I Opt for Paperbacks or a Kindle?
Readers often face a big dilemma – should they invest in paperbacks or should they purchase an eReader where they can store all their books easily and for a much cheaper price?
Many people prefer the feeling of holding a book in their hand and shifting through the pages. Not to mention, many find it easier to read a paperback since screens can be quite tiring for the eyes. With that said, eReaders have become incredibly popular for a reason, so it can be hard to decide what kind of format you should invest in.
Mind the Blue Light
When it comes to feeling the benefits of reading before bed, paperbacks are a better option. Electric devices omit blue light from the screens that can hinder our ability to fall asleep, keep us up for longer than we intended to, and reduce our overall quality of sleep. This occurs because the blue light sends a signal to our brain that it’s daytime, so our brains start to get stimulated despite it being time for bed. If you read on a screen before going to bed, you risk disrupting your sleeping pattern and staying up for longer than you anticipated.
Even though paperbacks have an advantage in this regard, there are some eReaders that don’t omit blue light and would make for a great investment. Plus, eReaders are much more practical and can make reading during the daytime significantly easier. For that reason, we decided to include three of our favourite eReader recommendations in case you decide you want to invest in one.
If you’re not on a tight budget, the Kindle Paperwhite Signature is an excellent option. This Kindle comes with 32 GB of storage space, allowing you to download any book of your choice without worrying about ever running out of space. Since it has thinner borders, there is more reading space on the screen. This version contains a front light that makes reading during the nighttime easy and effortless. In terms of lighting, you have several options, like using white light or switching it to a warmer amber. One of our favourite features of this product is that it reads like real paper, making it a great electronic alternative to reading paperbacks.
If you want a slightly more affordable version of Kindle, try the Kobo Nia eReader. This outstanding eReader also provides adjustable brightness that’s perfect for nighttime reading. Apart from reading in bed, you can also take it outside in the sun, since it features a glare-free touchscreen that will make it easier than ever to read outdoors. This product has 8 GB of storage space and you can choose from 6 million book titles, so you’re bound to find the books you love. We also like how there are over 50 font sizes and 12 font types available, so you can adjust the font according to your eyesight.
Do Audiobooks Count?
We discussed how reading paperbacks in bed compares to reading on an eReader, but what about using a different format of reading altogether such as audiobooks?
Audiobooks are a wonderful tool that helps readers who have problems with their eyesight or suffer from some kind of injury. Despite not being backed up by as many studies as standard reading, listening to audiobooks before bed can have a relaxing effect and can help with stress management. Most of us loved when our parents read us bedtime stories, and listening to an audiobook in bed can have an equally soothing effect.
Another benefit that comes with listening to audiobooks, apart from sparing your eyes, is that it allows you to close your eyes and drift off to sleep, all the while still following along with your book. There are many audiobook resources online, some of which are even free, so finding a book to listen to will never be an issue.
What Kinds of Books Should I Read in Bed?
If you don’t have a favourite genre and reading preferences, it can be hard to choose a book to read, seeing as there are so many options out there.
Our advice is to choose something comforting with an appealing storyline you can immerse yourself in. This way, you’ll be more motivated to pick it up every night, so that you can easily make a habit out of reading before bed.
When choosing a book to read in bed, there are some things you should keep in mind. For instance, do your best to avoid horror books if you’re someone who gets scared easily since they’re notorious for keeping us up at night. This goes for any other genre or story that would make you toss and turn, like biographies of some evil people like murderers or phychopats.
With that said, let’s go over some potential drawbacks that might come with reading in bed.
Drawbacks of Reading in Bed
While the positives far outweigh the negative effects of reading in bed, there are a few things you should be wary of. The most obvious drawback of reading in bed happens if you use primarily electric devices for reading since, as we discussed, these can disturb your sleep and make it hard for you to fall asleep.
Another drawback of reading in bed is that it can be hard to find a comfortable position to read in, and, if your bedside lamp isn’t appropriate for reading, you might find it hard to find good reading lighting.
Is Reading in Bed Bad for Your Eyes?
We associate reading with bad eyesight, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. If you have sufficient lighting and you’re reading in a comfortable position, there’s no reason why reading would be bad for your eyes.
Is Reading in Bed Good for You?
Reading in bed comes with a myriad of amazing benefits, such as increased brain power, helping us relax and de-stress, and improving our ability to concentrate.
Is It Better to Read Before Bed or in the Morning?
Whether you decide to implement the habit of reading before bed or in the morning is completely up to you – each option comes with its own list of benefits and potential drawbacks.
Needless to say, our definite answer to the question of “Is it OK if I read in bed?” is yes. There are many benefits you can experience by doing as little as 20 minutes of reading before bed, such as improved concentration, feeling more relaxed and ready for bed, getting a productive distraction from any potential anxious thoughts, and dealing with feelings of loneliness.
A common dilemma readers face is whether to continue reading physical books or invest in an eReader. In terms of reading in bed, physical books are by far superior, since electronic devices are known to hinder our ability to fall asleep and impact our overall quality of sleep. With that said, there are some monochrome blue light-free eReaders you might want to try to purchase or make this investment for daytime reading.
Finucane E, O’Brien A, Treweek S, et al. Does reading a book in bed make a difference to sleep in comparison to not reading a book in bed? The People’s Trial-an online, pragmatic, randomised trial. Trials. 2021;22(1):873. Published 2021 Dec 4. doi:10.1186/s13063-021-05831-3