There has been a long connection between reading and sleep. My mother always used to tell me that reading before bed would help me fall asleep quicker and also have a deeper and more enjoyable sleep. But you have to ask yourself is this just another ‘wives tale’ like how eating before swimming will make you drown? There’s no doubting whatsoever that sleep is important to our health and happiness and anything that can help us sleep better, or potentially sleep better, needs to be assessed further. Let’s take a look.
It’s better than Electronics
There is absolutely no debate needed in the argument of which is better before sleep; T.V or reading. Reading wins hands down and maybe the increases in technology and the ultra-modern world in general are the reasons for so much sleep-related illness. IPads might be convenient and small enough to be able to easily watch your favourite shows on Netflix whilst laying in bed, but it certainly isn’t convenient when it comes to actually falling asleep. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode and using electronic devices such as IPads and laptops can make it hard to fall asleep because the lit screen is activating and stimulating the brain. Shut down electronics and choose a book instead.
Calming and Relaxing
Reading is always a great tool to help calm the body and the mind. After a full day of constant stimulation which for many means ample time spent on the phone, laptop or IPad, we really need to slow down and give our eyes a break from the constant artificial light. Reading works in a few ways to help relax us and create a mood that is conducive to sleeping. We tend to read in a comfortable position to start, which relaxes your body in a comfortable position and encourages a nice, easy, resting state for the body and the mind. We tend to look down when we read which also relaxes our bodies and slows our breathing. Even the act of reading itself helps sleep, regular eye movement from one page to another, interpreting words and ideas into meaning forces considerable brain power. As the brain processes and processes your eyes begin to tire and the feeling of sleep becomes more powerful.
Reading as part of a Healthy Sleep Routine
It is well known that a pre-sleep routine is extremely beneficial to our sleep. We need to create healthy routines in order to give us the opportunity to wake up feeling refreshed and reinvigorated. After all sleep affects everything from mood, concentration and performance to weight, heart disease and even depression. If your body recognizes that you’re doing the same functions every night before bed, it will begin to pick up on them and if you read before bed every night, your body will recognize this and realize that it’s time for sleep.
Gain Clarity and Reduce Stress and Worry
Reading is great to do before sleep. Reading is for many a form of meditation; it relaxes the mind and helps you gain clarity from all the busyness of the day’s activities. It helps relieve stress, worry and anxieties. Just try to avoid books that are too suspenseful or horrific before bed and of course choose a paperback over an eBook.
(Photo courtesy of greatergood.berkeley.edu)