Can reading before bed help you fall asleep?

As I grew up as a child, I was often forced to read books and novels that were assigned for homework in school. I was never really a big fan of reading because I never really enjoyed what I read and would fall asleep fairly quickly after starting. After every page, I would yawn and get sleepier the longer I read. I started wondering why. Whether I was engaged and enjoyed reading or distracted and bored of reading, I never failed to fall asleep. This problem made me start to think… Why did I get so tired every time I read before bed? Was it because I was bored or does reading make the average person more sleepy? Perhaps both these factors may actually be true.

I began to research this topic and discovered that I might not be the only individual who experienced this issue. For the most part, there are two main reasons why people read. Either one reads for fun and entertainment, or for education purposes; for example, to succeed academically by gaining knowledge to write research papers. New studies have perhaps uncovered a new reason to read. Aside from strengthening your IQ or reading for entertainment, reading before bed may help you sleep.

reading-before-bed

An article from the website, “The Telegraph,” states that reading is one of the number ways to relax your mind and reduce stress. Other standard previous methods of reducing stress include: listening to music, walking, drinking tea, meditation. However, after putting all these methods to the test, neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis concluded that reading was the best way to reduce stress levels which ultimately leads to a more sound sleep. It reduced stress levels of up to 68 percent while the other techniques could only mitigate these levels by a maximum of 61 percent. These statistics help indicate that reading effectively allows one to fall asleep in a faster, more efficient manner.

Where does science come into this?

X Variable: Whether you read before bed or not.

Y Variable: The amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

Experiment type: Experimental

Null Hypothesis: Reading has no effect on sleep.

Alternative hypothesis: Reading helps an individual to fall asleep.

Reverse Causation: Falling asleep causes an individual to read.

Third cofounding variables: Setting, interests

Chance

According to the research I have performed, I would accept the alternative hypothesis and reject the null hypothesis because the studies implied that if an individual read previous to bed, their bodies would calm down, and allow themselves to plunge into a slumber faster than if one had not read.

We can rule out the reverse causation by using common sense because, for the most part, when the average person begins to feel tired, they generally attempt to go to bed, rather than challenging their bodies ability to stay awake by reading.

keep-calm-and-sleep-zzz

There are also other factors that come into play that make this theory one of the best. Although I agreed that reading is the best preparation when attempting to fall asleep quickly, cofounding variables can take part in why reading causes us to snooze so rapidly. When reading a piece of literature during the night, there is a high possibility that this task is performed in bed. Most individuals tend to dim the lights, change into pajamas and get into a comfortable position while preparing for bed. When these actions take place and one attempts to read, the likelihood of falling asleep increase due to the setting in which they are in. Of course we can always consider “chance” being an option in determining why the results came out the way they did; however, it is not likely considering the statistics and data strongly point towards the correctness of the alternative hypothesis.

All in all, based on the researched, backed by scientific experiments, I concluded that the theory of reading before bed does assist the average person to fall asleep more speedily than other methods. Boredom and other cofounding variables could alter the results, favoring this theory; yet these factors are part of what makes reading before bed the most efficient method out there.

While researching I discovered alternative ways to destress before bed that may allow you to get a sound sleep. If reading isn’t your favorite activity, check out the following website:¬†http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14226/10-tips-to-get-great-sleep-no-matter-how-stressed-you-are.html

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/27/stress-less-challenge-sleep_n_3157927.html

How Reading Before Bedtime Can Help You Sleep, Dream And Be Better

6 thoughts on “Can reading before bed help you fall asleep?

  1. Gulianna E Garry

    This was a really well-written blog and I loved how you set it up. For me, I can never read before bed. Reading requires a lot of concentration for me and when I am trying to relax I’d often just turn on my TV or open up Netflix and try to fall asleep. But, how healthy is it to watch TV before going to bed? This article explains how before going to bed it may not be too good to watch TV. It is definitely an interesting article and after reading it I believe I am going to try to change my before bed ritual.

  2. Candace Burke

    I agree with your conclusion in accepting the alternative hypothesis. I have always wondered about this topic. I tend to do my readings for school in the middle of the day and I still find myself getting more tired as I continue to read. I was wondering if in your research you found any evidence if they type of book being read determines the ability to fall asleep. For example, if you are reading a thriller or horror book would a person still get as tired and be able to fall asleep easier?

  3. Samuel Deluca

    Reading is always something that puts me to sleep, especially late ate night. I always just figured it was my disinterest in what I was reading that caused me to become drowsy. Disinterest in the content of what one is reading could be a confounding variable in this experiment. However, this article http://mentalfloss.com/article/49226/does-thinking-hard-actually-wear-you-out explains the mechanism as to how any mental activity causes the brain to tire which then tires out the rest of the body. So although reading is typically the most convenient option to tire one’s brain before bed, all mental strain will make one more tired.

  4. Derek William Drotman

    This is a great post! I can completely agree that when you read in bed you become more tired and help you sleep better. I have definitely had a hard time staying awake when I read my kindle before bed which has had some negative results on my studies because I wasn’t able to finish my studies. After reading this article https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/23/ebooks-affect-sleep-alertness-harvard-study, i was informed that reading a kindle which emits lights can affect your health, sleep, and night alertness.

  5. Catherine Drinker

    I have been curious about the same thing because like you, growing up I was forced to read in middle school and high school. It resulted in me not enjoying reading because I felt like it wasn’t a hobby, it was a task. I too would always fall asleep when I started to read before bed and I had always thought that that was just because the book was boring to me. But after doing some research, I found that reading before bed does a lot more for you, such as improving your cognitive function.
    http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1090795/reading-before-bed-good-for-you

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