The science of reading at bedtime
Falling asleep should be simple. It’s something we do every night. In fact, the average person sleeps for about 26 years of their life, which equates to 227,760 hours or 9,490 days. Even more interestingly, we spend about seven years trying to fall asleep. That’s a total of 33 years spent in bed!
Despite how much time we spend in bed, sometimes, falling asleep still isn’t easy. So, how can reduce the amount of time we spend tossing and turning each night?
Let’s look to science for the answer.
Read better, rest better.
One of the smartest men on earth champions the benefits of reading before sleep—Bill Gates.
In 1990, Gates gushed about his love for reading to The Seattle Times, exclaiming his penchant for spending an hour each night absorbed in a book. It’s a love shared by scientists, CEOs, and other successful people around the world.
Reading before bed helps you absorb information more readily, improving your memory recall, general knowledge, and even your mental health. But how exactly does reading help you sleep?
Science says reading rocks.
According to a 2009 study conducted by University of Sussex researchers, reading before bed can help struggling sleepers cope with insomnia.
It all comes down to stress. The researchers found that reading for just six minutes a night can reduce stress by 68%, paving the way for a clearer mind and a night of more refreshing sleep.
Physiologist and author of the study, Dr David Lewis, states that a book is more than a distraction—it actively engages the mind, causing readers to enter an altered state of consciousness. This altered state can lead to joyful dreams and a more positive outlook towards life in general.
The benefits don’t stop at sleep.
Reading helps you sleep better—but it doesn’t stop there. Science shows that people who read regularly are:
- Better public speakers.
- Better at forming relationships.
- More perceptive.
So, next time you slip into bed and can’t entirely switch off your mind—whip out your favourite book. It’s a surefire way to calm your mind, prep your body for sleep, and improve your overall wellbeing.