Research Shows Reading Before Bed Can Lead to Better Sleep—And These Bookworm-Perfect Products May Help, Too

Photo: Getty Images/iz ustun
In recent weeks, I’ve had a few 4 a.m. wake-ups, and no strategy that I've tried for drifting back off to sleep has worked. Not lavender essential oil, not my beloved ASMR videos, not sandwiching my head between two pillows and screaming—nothing. I finally expressed my frustration my father last night, and he responded by calling upon his simple-but-effective dad-wisdom reserves: "Have you tried reading to help you fall asleep?" he asked me.

How obvious, right? And yet, I hadn't tried it. Of all the sleep hacks out there, reading often gets overlooked, and that's a big mistake—especially for those like me who are prone to 4 a.m. sleep disruptions. In fact, Penguin Random House recently conducted a small survey of 250 adults and found out that not only did those who identify as bedtime readers get 25 extra minutes of sleep compared to respondents who don’t read before bed, but those who used reading to help them fall asleep considered it an effective sleep aid. Of course, it bears mentioning that Penguin Random House itself is a book publisher, but the findings check out, nonetheless.

"Reading before bed is a great way to promote relaxation and wind down from your day, without blue light from electronics interrupting your sleep cycles." —sleep psychologist Joshua Tal, PhD

"Reading before bed is a great way to promote relaxation and wind down from your day, without blue light from electronics interrupting your sleep cycles," sleep psychologist Joshua Tal, PhD, previously told Well+Good. "TV and phones are often prone to frenetic ads and notifications, bypassing, and interrupting the relaxation mechanism conducive for falling asleep."

Experts In This Article

Of course, that doesn't mean you have to completely forgo your devices—it just means that good old fashioned paper is the preferred reading medium for promoting a good night's sleep. So long as your books don't overstimulate (as in, save Stephen King thrillers for daytime), you'll be able to reap the sleep-inducing benefits of a good bedtime story. Before you wind down for the night, feel free to check out the nighttime reading accessories—from reading lights to bookmarks—below that'll optimize your bedtime reading experience.

Using reading to help you fall asleep? These accessories can be of assistance

1. Livho 2 Pack Blue Light Blocking Glasses, $16

Blue light and sleep don't mix, which is a big reason why sleep pros recommend against screen exposure before bedtime. While anxiously doomscrolling is never a wise idea for preserving mental health, it's the blue-light glare that messes with our body's natural ability to synthesize melatonin. So, if you do prefer reading off a screen, consider getting a pair or two of blue-light blocking glasses. These non-prescription options are for those who have 20/20 vision. For the rest of us, I recommend checking out Warby Parker's frames with screen-friendly lenses.

Shop Now: Livho 2 Pack Blue Light Blocking Glasses, $16

2. Kindle Paperwhite, $130

Speaking of screens, Kindle Paperwhite is a great option for bedtime reading, emitting less blue light than other screens. It's wafer thin, lightweight, and waterproof (in case your waterbed from the '80s goes "pop!" in the middle of the night). Best of all, a single charge will keep you happily reading for weeks.

Shop Now: Kindle Paperwhite, $130

3. Book Buddies - Book Holder, $6

Do you have a problem with your pages staying spread? Here's a super cute solution: These book holders cost the price of a latte (a pricey latte with tip, but a latte, nontheless) and feature a spot to plug your thumb in. Choose whichever design speaks to you!

Shop Now: Book Buddies - Book Holder, $6

4. Vekkia Amber Rechargeable LED Book Light for Reading in Bed, $16

Reading Light

When you're co-sleeping with someone, you may have different curfews and wake times, which means you have to be considerate of the sleep environment. For the person whose partner turns in earlier, grab a little reading light. This is a standard LED (with multiple light settings!) that will grab right onto the page, and give you that necessary sliver of illumination.

Shop Now: Vekkia Amber Rechargeable LED Book Light for Reading in Bed, $16

5. Vintage Style Magnifying Glass, $30

Is that tiny text giving you eye strain? Pull a Sherlock Holmes and have a magnifying glass on hand while you're reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classics (or anything else).

Shop Now: Vintage Style Magnifying Glass, $30

6. Rechargeable 3X Large Ultra Bright LED Page Magnifier with 12 Dimmable LEDs, $24

If you're looking for a heavy-duty solution that will make each word unmistakably clear, you can't go wrong with this highly rated page magnifier, which comes complete with an LED border.

Shop Now: Rechargeable 3X Large Ultra Bright LED Page Magnifier with 12 Dimmable LEDs, $24

7. Fell Asleep Here Magnetic Bookmark, $20

And finally, all bedtime readers should have a reliable placeholder on hand. For something that'll hug the spot you dozed off on, we recommend this quaint and to-the-point "Fell Asleep Here" magnetic bookmark. Wishful thinking, am I right?

Shop Now: Fell Asleep Here Magnetic Bookmark, $20

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