Ever find that your busy brain is still whirring away when it’s time to go to bed? Us too. Thankfully, there’s a tried-and-tested way of calming the brain: the simple act of getting stuck into a good book.
Don’t worry if you’re not a seasoned bookworm, though. It only takes 6 minutes of reading to make us more relaxed and calm. Read on for the lowdown on why losing yourself in a story could help you to get the sleep you need to rise and shine.
swap your phone for a book
It’s time for bed but you’re wide awake and tempted to have a late night phone scroll. Who doesn’t love a funny animal video at midnight? Sleep, that’s who. If your mind feels too busy to snooze, you can give it a helping hand in winding down by ditching your phone and picking up a book instead.
Dave explains the benefits of a juicy read: “Reading is a great way to reduce stressful thoughts. Around 70% of people with insomnia and sleep difficulties blame stress. Reading takes your mind away from the stresses and instead engages your imagination. This then helps you to relax as you switch off your worries.”
lose yourself to drift off
When it comes to the sciencey stuff behind how books can help us unwind, Dave has some pretty interesting info: “As we read, there is a decrease in any stress hormones that have built up during our work day, including cortisol and adrenaline. This helps our muscles to relax, which in turn helps us get to sleep.” Smart, huh? But that’s not all.
“Reading is partly meditative but also has the effect of tiring the eyes and eye muscles. We are basically ‘losing ourselves in the flow of reading’. Our eyelids start to drop and we become physically closer to nodding off as the rest of our body relaxes.”
So when your eyes start to feel all heavy and droopy, it’s time to bookmark your page, pop the book down and let yourself drift off.
how to read yourself to sleep
Inspired to read more and catch better zzz’s? Check out Dave’s best ways to read yourself all the way to great quality kip.
1. find a reading routine
“The main building block of any routine is consistency. Whether you choose to read before you go to bed or in bed itself, try to do it in the same way, in the same place and at the same time. This trains your brain that sleep is coming.”
2. get the lighting right
The type of lighting you have is important: “I like the bedside lamps that focus the light onto the book itself rather than projecting out into the wider room or near a sleeping partner. The key to lighting is to get it at a level where you can easily read without straining your eyes, but not too bright.”
3. watch your posture
Reading to help you get to sleep is all about relaxing, but the way you sit is also key. Dave explains: “These days a lot of us are working from home on laptops and texting on mobile phones. Both involve looking down for long periods which strain our neck muscles. So when reading before bed, I like to prop my head up with a pillow, which helps my neck muscles relax and speeds up sleep.”
4. fact vs fiction
Are you partial to a fantasy novel or is a true crime story more your bag? According to Dave, there is a particular type of book to be wary of: “I would recommend avoiding technical books which involve study. These can often keep you thinking late into the night. The main aim for a bedtime book is that it takes your mind out of the day.”
If you’re on the hunt for some bedtime book inspo, come this way. The eve team has 5 stonking bedtime reads for you to try.