According to a recent study, reading for six minutes before bed can help you sleep better. That’s right – just six minutes with a good book can improve your sleep quality. How?
Scientists believe that reading is the best way to help you relax before bed because immersing yourself into another world takes your mind off of the stress in your life better than other coping mechanisms, like listening to music or drinking a cup of tea. Researchers at the University of Sussex put this hypothesis to the test. Subjects were given either a book to read, relaxing music, or a cup of hot tea. Their stress levels and heart rates were then measured before and after performing an assigned activity.
Those who read experienced a 68 percent reduction in stress levels, while music lowered stress by 61 percent, tea by 54 percent, and taking a walk by 42 percent. This is good news since reading in bed is a simple thing to do. The better news is that it only takes six minutes for your body to feel the anti-stress effects of reading like a lower heart rate and reduced muscle tension. The faster you can de-stress, the faster your body is able to go to sleep.
And while you may be worried about picking up the mystery novel you’ve been eying right before bed, scientists say the genre of the reading material shouldn’t matter. The cognitive neuropsychologist who conducted the study suggested it really doesn’t matter what book you read, because by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world.
A word of warning in an age of technology: if you’re going to use a device for reading, such as a tablet or e-reader, you should stick to those intended for reading. They use a different technology that does not emit the blue light known to suppress the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin.
So, before you call it a night, pick up a book and get in at least six minutes of reading. You may find your stress slipping away so you can peacefully drift off into dreamland.