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How Reading Before Bed Helps Me Sleep

I've Resolved to Read More in 2020, but My Real Goal Is to Get Better Sleep

Young woman lying in her bed reading a book at night

I can't sleep to save my life. That sounds dramatic, but truly, if I had to live on sleep alone (and not, you know, food or water), I'm not sure I could survive. Like anyone else, I pulled all-nighters in college and stayed out late in my early 20s — but years later, I still find getting a good night's rest to be impossible most nights.

The reasons are two-fold. I share an apartment with my husband, a dog, and a cat, and walls with some occasionally noisy neighbours, and I'm an incredibly light sleeper. (Let's put it this way: if the cat sneezes from the other side of the apartment, I'm up for at least 20 minutes.) I also struggle to turn off my brain before bed. The second my head hits the pillow, I can only think about what I should be doing instead: writing emails, organising the hallway closet, squeezing in a workout.

When I started thinking about the things I wanted to accomplish in 2020, getting better sleep wasn't even on the list. I'm a firm believer in setting small, attainable goals. The idea that I could fix my sleep was just so absurd. But then I realised that one of my goals might actually serve the same purpose.

I've been wanting to read more, not only because I enjoy it, but also because I hope to eventually get going on a novel of my own. When I first heard about the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge — in which participants read a minimum of 40 books during the year — it seemed like exactly the motivation I needed to get started. There was only one problem: I can usually only carve out time to read before bed, and when I nestle in with a good book, I fall asleep. No worrying about what I didn't do that day or listening to my neighbour grumbling over his bathroom tap. I'm out.

So, I'm heading into 2020 knowing that I'll likely fail the challenge I've set for myself. After all, how can I possibly read that many books during the year if I can't keep my eyes open after one chapter? But if it means I finally get the rest my body craves, I'll take it as a win.

Image Source: Getty / Luis Alvarez
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