The Reason You Should Avoid Reading In Bed Before Sleeping

Health and sleep go hand in hand. If you want to stay in tip-top shape, make sure you catch up on your beauty sleep. Not only does getting quality sleep help keep your brain alert and your mind sharp, but it helps minimize the risk of certain health conditions, such as heart disease, dementia, obesity, and stroke, according to the NIH News In Health. "There are certain repair processes that occur in the body mostly, or most effectively, during sleep," says sleep researcher at the University of Colorado Dr. Kenneth Wright (via NIH)."If you don't get enough sleep, those processes are going to be disturbed."

However, sleep doesn't come easy for everyone. Factors like medication side effects, domestic duties, and stress can mess with a person's ability to usher in sleep or sleep straight throughout the night. Some seemingly harmless behaviors that you engage in around bedtime can also be the culprit behind your bad night's sleep — reading in bed is a case in point. "For many [people], reading can be relaxing and enjoyable, which can put your mind and body in the appropriate mindset or mood to go to sleep," professor of neurology Raman Malhotra tells Refinery29. Although reading is widely considered a sleep-conducive bedtime ritual, new research into the effects of reading in bed suggests that it can also be a sleep killer. Here's why you should think twice before diving into a page-turner when trying to go to sleep.

Reading before bed confuses your brain

The major reason why you shouldn't relax with a book before going to sleep is that it can trick your brain into thinking that it's still wakeful hours. "You don't want to associate the bed with activities associated with wakefulness," says sleep disorder physician Neil Kline (via The Healthy). Reading requires considerable concentration and immersing yourself in a book has the potential to make you more alert rather than wind you down.

Cozying up with an e-book before sleeping is even worse. Many electronic devices such as tablets, TVs, and mobile phones emit blue light, exposure to which can mess with your sleep-wake cycle and make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay awake, per CDC.

Other brain-stimulating activities like movie watching or doomscrolling can also disrupt our sleep cycles and should be avoided before going to bed. "Anything that is stimulating to the brain before bed may be detrimental to one's ability to fall asleep," says psychologist Dr. Richard Shuster (via Headspace).

How to read without interfering with you sleep

If you've developed a habit of reading before bed and it helps you get good sleep, there's no need to kick it. However, if you have trouble falling asleep, you might want to consider moving your reading activity into your study or your living room instead of in your bedroom. Your bed should be reserved for your activities that are restful such as sleeping or those things you do behind closed doors, like lovemaking, not for wakeful activities such as reading, eating, or talking on the phone, according to behavioral sleep medicine specialist Dr. Jade Wu

Echoing the sentiment, sleep psychologist Sarah Silverman explains that reading in bed can sometimes blur the line between the state of sleepfulness and the state of alertness. "If you're reading in bed for too long and you struggle with getting to bed on a regular basis, that can create what we in the sleep world call 'conditioned arousal,'" says Silverman (via USA Today). For example, if you're always in bed reading and Netflixing before going to sleep, your body will be trained to expect to be alert as soon as you crawl onto your bed. That's why reading in bed makes it hard for your brain to decide if your bedroom is a place for sleeping or for wakeful activities.