I have always loved to read. But with the busyness of life I haven’t always made the time. On the few occasions when my husband and I would splurge on a few months of Netflix it became a marathon of TV watching, trying to get as much watched in the few months we could afford. But in the last year, since my husband has started working on his novel, he favors going to bed early to read for a while. This is something I have always loved to do, but other than reading with a book light while getting up in the night to nurse my daughter, not something I’ve done in several years. As we began doing this most nights, I’ve noticed several positive changes.

First, I sleep better. While I won’t quote statistics, I have read in several different places that reading before bed does a better job of allowing the brain to wind down than watching television, especially in children. Also, the artificial lighting produced by TV has a stimulating affect on brains functions. So while you might fall asleep watching TV, you probably won’t sleep as well. I will say this has definitely been the case for me. Even if I only read for fifteen minutes, I feel much better heading for bed while I’m still awake but getting sleepy. The routine of getting ready and curling up with a good book helps me settle down and sleep better with fewer incidents of insomnia than when I fall asleep in front of the TV or go straight from playing a computer game to bed.

I’ve also rediscovered how much I love reading. I have always loved reading for pleasure since I was a child. I was the kid who would stay up late reading just for fun or occasionally stay up all night to finish a book that was too exciting to put down. But I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, mostly because of other things getting in the way. I’ve begun reading new authors. I have several favorite authors whose books I reread every year, (Rosamunde Pilcher, Lawana Blackwell, Stephanie Grace Whitson) but I’ve been reluctant to invest my time (of which I have little) and energy (of which I have even less), in trying a new author only to regret it. But since my husband is reading almost every night, I’ve begun making monthly trips to the library to borrow stack of books by authors like Robin Pilcher, Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark.

Stephen King says that to be a good writer you must also be a proficient reader. This tip comes from his book On Writing, which I highly recommend. I have found consistently that reading improves both my writing ability and my motivation to write. I especially found The Jane Austen Book Club and The Last Time I Saw You helpful since they are structurally similar to my own novel I’m writing. My husband has found this to be the case as well. Since he is working on a fantasy novel he spends a great deal of time reading fantasy books both for education and research.

Do you enjoy reading? Have you ever tried it as a method of improving sleep quality?