Bedtime reading: waste of time or time well spent?


By Sanjana Idnani, First Year English

By this point in the term, we probably associate bedtime reading with hurrying through the fiftieth page of a convoluted academic review, straining to stay awake as the small black print blurs into one indistinct shape before your very eyes. I'd like to show you another way to read before bed!

What about picking up a book for your own comfort and enjoyment, your head propped up with fluffy pillows, a hot cup of tea in hand, immersed in your favourite story? There’s so much evidence to show that reading before you turn in for the night adds a boost to your daily life - much more than simply being prepared for your morning seminar.

Epigram / Imogen Howse

One of the most popular reasons to read is the escapism it provides. As soon as you hold that book in your hands, you can be transported to a world of mystery, wonder, and magic, and be surrounded by a realm of characters, immersing yourself in their lives. Following a tiring day of flitting between the library and lectures, slipping into a world away from your own can be the perfect way to unwind. In fact, a study by the University of Sussex found that “reading worked best” as a relaxation technique, “reducing stress levels by 68%” - beating listening to music, a cup of tea, and taking a walk.

There’s so much evidence to show that reading before you turn in for the night adds a boost to your daily life

The variety of characters we engage with when reading also allows us to experience life from a different perspective. Reading provides a framework through which we can consider the experience of living in different countries, time periods, families, and much more. Though this is not specifically related to reading before bed, it dispels the myth of reading before bed being a waste of time - you’re gaining knowledge and perspective even if you don’t realise it.

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This more productive side to reading before bed doesn’t end there. An article posted by GLD Enterprise Communications Ltd. states that: “reading exposes us to more words and ideas within a context that provides meaning and proper usage.” You can expand your vocabulary and develop a meaningful use of language all from the comfort of your own bed!

Epigram / Imogen Howse

As an English student, it’s probably somewhat predictable for me to say that bedtime reading is one of my favourite sources of entertainment: but it’s not limited to those of us who love discussing language, narrative, and storytelling. Bedtime reading gives me the opportunity to take some time away from the routine of my course, and also gives me all the conversation starters I need – there is nothing like bonding with someone over the love of the same book. Trust me!

You're gaining knowledge and perspective even if you don't realise it

Every now and again, try swapping your essay reading for a book you might just fall in love with. There’s something much more exciting about staying up for ‘just one more chapter’ instead of snoring over that article at 2am!

Featured Image: Epigram / Imogen Howse

Do you read before bed? Does it have any positive effects on you?