Yes, you read that title right. Guest blogger Paul Grech has been reading up on some really fascinating research …
There aren’t many better ways of ending a day than by curling up in bed in the company of a good book. Any reader will tell you as much. However explaining why, especially to those who are not so enamoured of books, isn’t always easy — but now there is the science to back this up.
That’s because Sleep Junkie, a site that reviews mattresses and sleep products (!), carried out research among more than two thousand people to see how reading or the lack of it impacts their sleeping patterns.
The results are interesting and surprising in equal measures.
Around 80% of those who answered that they read before sleeping said that they find that this helps them relax; 63% went as far as saying that it actually helps reduce stress.
All that is fairly logical. What is less obvious is that regular in-bed readers tend to be more successful in their professional lives. When asked about their annual income they reported earnings of $40,000 whereas non-readers take home $36,000.
That is a huge gap.
There are two ways of looking at that. Reading is a healthy habit because it fosters imagination, creativity and improves the ability to express yourself. All of which tend to be important contributors towards the higher professional jobs. So it is not the act of reading before bed that is the key but rather that one reads at all that helps in today’s work environment. Sadly, the study does not go into what people actually read, what genres, and whether there are any that are more effective.
The other side of this argument revolves on what the alternatives to reading are. In general, this means bringing some form of tech to bed and there are plenty of other studies which show that the artificial light of these devices contribute negatively to helping the mind switch off. So, whilst this particular study did not go into that aspect, it is not really that surprising to find that 76% of readers said they are more satisfied with their sleep compared to 64% of those who do not read.
They even sleep more, with readers registering almost two hours of extra sleep over the course of a week.
Indeed, even people who read but do so on their tablet or mobile in general said that they find it harder to sleep than those who read using other media. Interestingly, it is those who read using e-readers who reported the best sleeping experience, actually doing better than those who read physical books.
Regardless, good sleeping habits are widely recognised as being vital for one’s health – both physical and mental – so it is rather obvious that if readers sleep better then they tend to be in a better condition to handle challenges they face at work.
There is one aspect of the study, however, that has me puzzled.
73% of readers expressed their belief that they’d have trouble falling asleep if they didn’t spend some time reading before they switch off the light. The obvious question for these people is “what are you reading?”
Because in my experience one of the problems of going to bed with a book is that you find it so good that you end up pulling an all-nighter until you turn the final page!
Page photo by Matheus Vincius on Unsplash / Post photos by (top to bottom) David Lezcano, Alessia Chinazzo and Klim Sergeev on Unsplash
Paul Grech is an avid reader particularly of sports, sci-fi, fantasy and non-fiction books. He is also a writer as well as the publisher of Paġna Mmarkata, a magazine (that is also a bookmark) of original Maltese writing.