Reading has countless benefits, from gaining knowledge and increasing creativity to reducing stress. This is true no matter what time of day you crack open a book, but many people find that reading before bed is the ideal way to wind down from a long day and drift off to sleep.
A recent survey by Sleep Junkie polled 2,300 respondents and found that, among those who read before bed, 80 percent find the practice relaxing, while 65 percent say it reduces stress. Fifty percent reported sleeping better than when they don’t read before bed, and perhaps most telling of all, readers slept an additional one hour and 37 minutes more per week than non-readers.
If you already sleep like a baby, there’s no need to change your routine. But for anyone looking to curl up with a good book in hopes that it helps them melt into bed, there’s more to the equation than simply picking any tome off your shelf. Consider these four points when choosing the perfect bedtime book.
1. Select your preferred format
Before you can choose your ideal bedtime book, you first need to choose a format. Physical print books, ebooks, and audiobooks are all viable options for reading (or listening) before bed. But studies show that blue light-emitting devices can hinder sleep by suppressing melatonin production and shifting circadian rhythms, which may derail some of the benefits that reading provides. Most smart phones, tablets, and backlit e-readers include a night mode feature that decreases screen brightness and shifts tones to warmer hues, rather than blue light.
Physical books skip the blue light problem, but you need to keep the overhead lights or a lamp on to read, which may be bothersome. Audiobooks avoid these issues entirely, letting users lie in the dark with their eyes closed. Find what works best for you, and stick to it.
2. Pick a lighthearted genre
While anything goes during the day, reading at night requires you to be a little more thoughtful about a book’s genre. An intense thriller or horror novel is likely to stick with you long after you close the book, and it may even invade your dreams. Similarly, dark and depressing books that deal with real-world themes can be important reads, but they’re not the best choice to end your night. Instead, keep it light. Science fiction, biographies, self-help, romance, adventure, and feel-good novels are all great picks to keep on your bedside table. Remember: nothing too exciting. The point here is to wind down so you can sleep, not rile yourself up.
3. Opt for an easy read
Once again, go easy on yourself. Familiar topics and characters are like a warm blanket come bedtime. When you’re settling in for the night, you don’t want to confuse yourself with a litany of hard-to-remember names or the need to pick up a dictionary after every page. Such books are often worth the time, but reserve more difficult reads for daylight hours, and choose breezier books at night.
4. Know when to stop
There’s nothing better than a page-turner, and it’s fun to get wrapped up in a good book. But if you find yourself reading too late into the night, you’ll sleep less and won’t feel refreshed come morning. Set a time limit — the exact limit is flexible — to ensure you don’t stretch your reading sessions too late into the night.