Why You Should Read Before Going to Bed

Remember back when you were a child falling asleep to a parent’s bedtime story? That soon evolved into you reading yourself picture books, which then transitioned into chapter books. You were far from the only kid in your class in this calming boat — you probably know that a story before bed is a pretty common ritual. 

This isn’t just an arbitrary tradition: there are reasons why stories before bedtime, whether spoken or read, are a thing. Here are a few reasons why reading before bedtime is a good idea to help you unwind and fall asleep ASAP:

     1. Depending on what you read, it can help alleviate stress and anxiety.

An engaging fictional novel about star-crossed lovers in a fantasy world battling werewolves and dragons can transport you away from the humdrum of everyday life. A lot of our lives are stressful, and vacations are expensive. So why not take a mental vacation every night to a far-off land where your demanding clients will never find you? 

Of course, what you read matters. If you find that reading true crime about a serial killer that once prowled a town very much like yours that scares you to the point of jumping at every little sound outside, that might not be ideal bedtime story material. Stick to the feel-good stuff that you’ll want to dream about.

     2. It gives you motivation to not look at your phone or the TV before bed, which can make it harder to sleep.

Scrolling through social media to see your friend’s shenanigans of the day is a typical bedtime ritual for a lot of us, but too much can make it harder to fall asleep. Screens emit blue light, which can hamper melatonin production. In case you need a refresher on melatonin, it’s the hormone that helps you fall asleep. 

So instead of scrolling for hours, reading the right books (the good ol’ paper, not a Kindle — that’s still a screen) can lure you away from the siren song of your TikTok feed. 

     3. It’s a fun way to boost your brain.

If your reading material is at least a little intellectually stimulating, you’ll be opening up more neural connections in your brain, giving it a little extra juice to take on those work projects the next day. Think of it like lifting weights for your brain rather than your muscles (although doing that is also great for sleep). Of course, this means you should aim for that happy middle of intellectually stimulating without being mentally strenuous. 

More specifically, reading can help you become more creative. Even if you’re not reading a book about creativity, you might feel inspired by a character’s unstoppable attitude and impeccable wits. 

     4. It can be done in bed, so you’ll already be in bed.

Aside from scrolling on the phone, a lot of pre-bedtime activities don’t exactly take place in the bedroom or anywhere near it. If you’re going to the gym for one, you’ll still have to shower and get changed no matter how tired you are. Reading is an activity you can do after most of your pre-bedtime rituals, such as brushing your teeth, applying skincare, and eating dinner. That means you won’t have to get up after finding yourself dozing off after three chapters of an exciting romance or a quest to fulfill a prophecy.