An Experiment of Improving My Sleep By Reading Before Bed

Prior to my 30-day challenge of reading 20 pages of books per day, I wasn’t really focused on my sleep. But 3 days into the challenge, I couldn’t help but notice how my quality and quantity of sleep have truly suffered. It’s not because I’m reading, but because of how I’ve been doing things differently lately. I’ve been sleeping a little earlier than usual, somewhat affected by mother sleeping earlier, and so I thought, “Hey, I might as well too.” And another being that I have been spending a lot less time playing games on my phone in the evenings and thus just having a lot more spare time in general.

What I noticed is that even if I feel a little tired from after reading, I still don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes. I usually take another hour or so before I fall asleep. It’s probably just too early to fall asleep in most cases. So, I have to think of either more activities or increase the time I’m spending on current activities.

If I were falling asleep right away at 9 PM, it wouldn’t be a big deal to wake up at say 3:30 AM. Sure, it is extremely early in the morning, but maybe 6 1/2 hours is adequate enough sleep for me. I could start off the day lightly, maybe meditating in the living room. It’s somewhat inconvenient because of how my house is set up and where everyone sleeps. I’d have to set up things differently depending on what activities I would like to do. For example, if I want to do light exercise in the morning, I’d either have to suck it up and just exercise in my pajamas, or find another place to access my workout clothes while others are sleeping. But basically, I don’t even think about getting up at 3 AM because it takes me more than an hour to fall asleep, I wake up at least once before 3 AM before falling asleep again, and so I just don’t think it’s enough of a quantity to stay asleep to justify getting up.

However, some articles I’ve read suggest getting up temporarily. You could read for half an hour or so for example with dim lights and then try to fall back asleep after that, when you might be feeling a little more tired. I am considering this suggestion. My default activities will either be to read one or two chapters of the current book I’m reading, or to listen specifically to a sleep meditation of 15-30 minutes. I could set my headset near my phone the evening before just in case I find myself in this situation. Usually, my headset is upstairs near my computer, where I mostly use it during the day.

People have suggested to me sleeping later in the night. It makes sense. If you’re not sleepy, why force yourself to lay awake in bed? I just have to find activities to do that will keep me up beyond a certain time.

My current schedule goes something like this. I cook/prepare dinner at 6 PM and usually eat before 7 PM. I spend half an hour watching TV or playing games / engaging in social media on my phone. Then, I brush my teeth and take a shower. I journal. Then, I read. Usually by the time I finish, it’s somewhere between 9 PM – 9:30 PM. I’m not particularly tired by the time. I just resort to going to bed out of convenience.

So instead, maybe I could try this. I’ve thought about watching Running Man in the evenings. I just didn’t want it to keep my mind active late at night. So instead of reading right away, I could watch Running Man first. And then after, I could read. And lastly, I could listen to a sleep meditation. The typical Running Man episode lasts at most 1 1/2 hours. I’ve been reading around an hour each evening so far. And, I’d probably listen to a sleep meditation that is 15-30 minutes long. So, that’d keep me set up until 10:45 PM – 11 PM. To be honest, I might have to stay up even later than that. But, that’s definitely a start.

These days, I manage to get out of bed by 11 AM. That’s quite late. It didn’t really bother me before because I had no real need to wake up early. It’s not like I have a 9-5 job that I have to get to. And, I don’t really do anything quite profound in the mornings. But when you go to bed at 9 PM and you only manage to get yourself out of bed 14 hours later, you start to question things…

One thing I’m glad about is that I no longer nap in the day. I also don’t consume caffeine on a daily basis. Actually, I haven’t had caffeine since the beginning of the pandemic pretty much. I would try coffee or tea once in a while when going out with friends, but I haven’t done that in a long time. So, I know midday naps and caffeine are not contributing to my problems with sleep at night.

I think the main reason I want to improve my sleep is to wake up feeling refreshed. And, I want to improve my energy levels throughout the day. I want to naturally feel sleepy before bedtime and not have to toss and turn for hours. It’d be nice to wake up early (at a reasonable time, without an alarm clock) and maybe even get creative with morning routines. Maybe I’d feel more purposeful.

The only downside to sleeping less hours and being awake more hours is that you have to figure out what you want to do with all that time. I have to be a little more creative these days with the pandemic going on. I’ve been avoiding the gym. I don’t go to friends’ houses to hang out. I’ve stopped going downtown visiting different places. So, I’m mostly trying to find indoor activities. A lot of time is spent in front of screens (computer, tablet, phone, TV).

Sometimes, I think of an activity, but don’t follow through. There could be many reasons for it. I think that’s partially why I decided to give 30-day trials a try again. I want to give myself time to try old or new activities for an extended amount of days and outweigh the pros and cons. I want to engage myself in interesting activities, not just mindless ones just to pass the time.

I guess I just have to be careful of what will happen if I don’t have any activities prepared for when I awake or before I go to sleep. Right now, I have a morning routine I follow. It’s not anything profound. It’s just the way I start my day. I usually spend a lot of time in front of the computer during the day if I don’t have anything else planned. I go for walks in the afternoon now that the weather has cooled down. I like to go when it’s still sunny out. I try to avoid getting back on the computer in the evenings, just to keep things varied I guess.

I usually eat dinner before 7 PM, but I was thinking about pushing it back to 6 PM. I don’t know if that will help with my sleep. It might. The only downside to this is that I’d have to start an evening routine of some sort earlier in the evening. Would I have enough activities to keep me up beyond 10 PM? Though, would I need to? Maybe I’d wake up at 5 AM every day and that would be enough sleep for me.

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. I am glad that I decided to pick up the habit of reading books before bed. It’s better than aimlessly playing Candy Crush. It’d be one thing if I were playing games with another person, or as a livestream. But, I just do it to pass time. Sure, it could improve your mind. But, reading could improve your mind too. Watching a show in another language can improve your mind too. And, I feel like the last two activities are more useful.

Anyway, I’m glad I decided to write this post out. I don’t know if my experiment will work out, but I’ll keep you posted in future blog posts. I hope I can continue reading in the evenings and that it affects my sleep in a positive manner. I thought about trying to read for more than an hour, but even that is more than I expected at first. I usually end up reading a couple chapters, which takes me close to an hour. And by then, I usually feel content with just reading that much. But hey, maybe I could develop into a super-reader like Warren Buffett, who I’ve heard reads up to 500 pages a day. Though, that’s how he starts his days. I just want to find a relaxing way to end my days.

So for now, I’m going to eat dinner at the same time. I’ll just try watching Running Man before reading and see how that goes. I’ll be trying the sleep meditations too most likely. So, it’ll be a combined effect I guess. We’ll see!

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