Falling Asleep While Reading: A Saga

This summer I’ve encountered a dilemma that I haven’t really ever had to deal with before: I keep falling asleep while reading.

Now, I’ve never really been much of a night owl. I’ve always preferred going to bed around 11pm and getting up at 7am to going to bed at 2am and getting up at 10am. I genuinely love mornings and their calm quiet, the potential they hold for both peace and productivity. I’m the kind of person who will wake up twenty minutes earlier than necessary every morning before work just so I have enough to leisurely eat breakfast and catch up on some blogging at 6:30am. As much as I love being a morning person, it does come with some drawbacks. This summer, I’ve come to realize that one of them is being much more tired than I would like around 9pm every night.

My body’s desire to fall asleep around 9:30pm has severely cut into my nightly reading time, and I don’t like it one bit.

I didn’t used to have this problem in undergrad. I regularly stayed up late talking with friends or finishing a thesis page, finally taking a shower and tucking myself into bed around 12:30am or 1am. I’d set my usually 7am alarm for the next morning and wake up ready to take on the day, jumping out of bed and slipping on the clothes I had already set out the night before. Was I exhausted and very stressed during (and in part because of) this regimen? Yes. Was it healthy? Probably not. But I did it, sacrificing sleep (and sometimes sanity, it seemed) to be more productive.

While I’m very glad I don’t have to do that anymore (at least, not until law school starts up in the fall…) I do miss being able to get some extra reading done before bed. I think falling asleep early this summer is my body’s way of making up for all the sleep it missed during the school year (and perhaps all the sleep it knows it will miss as soon as fall hits?). I’m not talking about staying up all night again—I would just like to be able to read for a solid half hour before bed instead of inevitably falling asleep with my light on, a book perched half open on my chest.

After googling this dilemma and getting some… interesting results (Eat while you read! Walk while you read! Read in sprints during TV commercials!) I decided to take matters into my own hands and make some small changes in my nightly reading habits. Here’s what I came up with:

Don’t read in bed. 

I quickly realized that reading in bed all cozy in my pajamas was perhaps the biggest source of my problems. It’s all too easy to drift off to sleep when there’s literally nothing physically stopping you from doing so. I decided that the more productive option would be to read at the dining room table or my desk, forcing me to physically go to my bed when I was finally read to fall asleep.

Set a reading goal.

I’m trying to tackle some larger tomes this summer, which can feel a bit daunting at times. It’s more difficult to find the motivation to read at night when I’m staring at a four hundred page book than when I’m reading a thinner volume that I can easily breeze through. To try to fix this problem, I set reading goals for myself when I sat down to read each night. Sometimes my goal was a specific chapter that I wanted to reach, while other times it was a specific page number.

Put away your phone. 

If my phone is near me before bed, I’m much more likely to get sucked into watching Youtube videos or scrolling through bookstagram instead of reading. Instead, I tried setting my alarm for the next morning and then keeping my phone at my bed rather than bring it with me when I moved to my dining room table or my desk to read. Out of sight, out of mind!

Don’t let yourself get bored. 

This summer I have the delightful luxury of being able to choose what I read rather than being assigned reading. Rather than try to fight through texts that were kind of dull and lagging, I tried reading diving into books that I was the most excited to read right before bed.

The verdict? 

Did these tricks work? Kind of. While I certainly stayed up later reading, part of me resented myself for it. Even though I was reading more, all I really wanted to do was go curl up in bed and go to sleep. After all, my body was tired for a reason! More than anything, this little experiment reminded me that if I’m falling asleep while reading, I should probably just head to bed early and get that all-important shut eye anyways. It’s a balance, bookworms.

Do you have this falling asleep while reading problem? Have any tips and tricks to stay awake? What do you think of my little experiment? Let me know in the comments section below!



12 thoughts on “Falling Asleep While Reading: A Saga

  1. I’ve been reading Matthew Walker’s book, ‘Why We Sleep’, so now I feel like everyone’s concerned grandma when they mention feeling tired. I want to make sure they’yre getting enough sleep… But anyway. It sounds like your sleep patterns might be shifting away from the later pattern you had as a teenager, making you even more of a morning person. I’m not a doctor, though, so what do I know? You should give the book a try. It might answer some of your questions about your sleep schedule.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have been having this problem too!! I used to be able to get through a good chunk of a book before bed and now I’m lucky if I last 5+ pages lol. I’ve tried reading on the couch instead and it results in me just falling asleep on the couch lol. I think it really varies too, everyone is SO different in the amount of sleep they need- my husband can sleep 6-7 hours and be fine, but for me if I don’t get at least 8-9 hours, I’m exhausted!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True! I guess it does really depend on how much sleep you personally need. I can survive on 6-7 hours of sleep for a little while, but after days and days of it I definitely crash!


  3. I have the opposite problem. I wish I were an early bird but I’m a night owl through and through. I’ve tried to reprogram myself but it just doesn’t work long term! But it does mean that I get a lot of reading done in bed when I’m trying to wind down at the end of the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Could it be because we’re growing older? I’m sorry, I chuckled a bit at that thought. I haven’t had this problem, exactly, though I do find myself feeling tired out by 9PM or 10PM. Have you tried reading early in the morning when you wake up? Or maybe reading around 8 or 8:30PM?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have tried some of your tips in the past but the one I can’t beat is reading in bed. I think a lot of the fatigue has to do with age but also content. I have also tried to read in the morning but I will have to make sure my alarm is set because I still have the tendency to fall back asleep. The struggle is real!

    Liked by 1 person

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