How to Find the Proper Reading Posture and Why

Best Reading Position

When we think about reading, most of us imagine ourselves lying on a couch with a cup of tea or a glass of wine in one hand and an interesting book in the other. What most of us don’t realize is that the position we read in can have a major impact on the length of our reading sessions, their effectiveness, and our health.  

While most of us fail to consider the importance of our position when doing activities that don’t require movement, our sedentarism has sparked an interest in ergonomics in most aspects of our lives. 

Finding the best reading position and the proper reading posture can lead to a positive change in our reading habits and can help us maintain our bodies healthy. Basmo is here to teach you how!

What is the best reading position?

One thing we need to make clear from the very start is that, here at Basmo, we believe that the best reading position is, in the end, the one you are most comfortable in for extended periods of time. We need to acknowledge the fact that we are all different and even though our bodies function pretty much the same, it’s the small details that make us unique that also need to dictate how we behave, sit, and read. 

Ergonomics is a scientific discipline defined as the understanding of the way our bodies interact with external elements. To make things simpler, the study of ergonomics leads experts to design the most comfortable chairs,  the most anatomically correct mattresses, workplace pieces of equipment that don’t do our joints any harm in the long run and to find the correct positions we should be doing certain activities in. 

According to ergonomic principles, the best reading position is sitting upright on a chair, with your back straight and your neck slightly tilted forward. Your feet should be placed on the ground firmly, and your knees should be bent at a 90 degrees angle. 

Using the correct ergonomic reading position will allow you to spend hours reading your favorite books without putting any unnecessary strain on your joints, back and neck muscles, and will ensure a good blood flow throughout your entire body.

We all know that even though we are perfectly aware of what is actually best for us, we rarely do it. While that is not ideal, it is the reality we live in and the reality we need to adapt to. 

So, since not all of us are going to suddenly only read sitting on a chair with our back straight and our knees at a 90 degrees angle, let’s see how we can improve on the reading positions that we usually choose over the correct one.

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What’s the best position to read a book in bed?

Reading in bed is probably a lot more common than we would like to admit. And it makes perfect sense. Since reading and sleep have a quite strong connection, it’s not at all surprising that so many people are reading in bed, before falling asleep.

The dangers of reading in bed

It might seem pretty harmless, what could go wrong when reading in bed? Well, there’s quite a lot you should be paying attention to actually.

Here are a couple of the most notable dangers you are exposing to when choosing to read in bed instead of choosing a correct reading position: 

  • The strain on your eye muscles: By reading in bed, lying down, we force our eyes to focus at an awkward angle. This can have a couple of negative effects, including soreness, itchiness and unnecessary fatigue
  • Strain on your eyes caused by low light: Our bedrooms are usually not the rooms with the best lighting in our house. We usually dim the lights before going to bed, even though we are planning to read a couple of pages before we fall asleep. Reading in low light is tiring, can lead to headaches, and puts a completely unnecessary strain on our eyes.
  • Incorrect posture: Finding the best posture to read in bed is quite difficult if we take into account the ideal position dictated by ergonomics. Reading in bed, in an incorrect position will force our neck and back muscles, which can lead to pretty nasty pain. 

The correct way of reading in bed

Of course, since reading in bed is so popular in general, certain ways have been found to make this activity better and significant effort has been put into finding the best posture for reading in bed. Even though the ideal position is far from what can be achieved in bed, here’s how you should do your reading in bed in order to avoid most of the negative aspects.

First, you should keep in mind that ergonomics dictate that the ideal reading position is as close to vertical as possible. In bed, this translates into making a habit out of reading while sitting upright, with your back rested comfortably against a pillow or even a stack of pillows. Ideally, you should use a special one, called a husband pillow, which supports your back in a comfortable vertical position, and also offers some lateral support so you don’t flex your spine in an awkward position. 

There are some other important factors to take into account, namely the way you hold your legs. Your legs should be in a relaxed position, and stretched straight on the bed (you could cross your legs if that is more comfortable for you, just know that one of your legs is bound to fall asleep at some point). 

On top of this, you should pay attention to the position you hold your book in. Ideally, your neck should be straight, not leaned forward, and your eyes would also focus in a straight fashion, not at an awkward angle. Unfortunately, when lying in bed this would lead to other issues. Holding your book high enough to maintain the correct angles both for your neck and your eyes will eventually get your arms pretty tired relatively quickly. A possible solution would be a special reading tray for beds, which can be easily adjusted for your height and reading position.

Now that we know the correct way to read in bed, let’s also see what positions you should definitely avoid: reading lying on your side or lying on your belly. Both these positions would seem extremely comfortable at first glance, but make no mistake, they will put a huge strain on your eyes, muscles and joints, especially if your reading session is long.

What is the Proper Posture to Read a Book at a Desk?

Reading at a desk is as close to perfection as you can possibly get, as long as you follow a couple of simple rules. Four important parts of your body need to be correctly aligned in order for you to achieve the best reading posture, which guarantees that you will have a comfortable, enjoyable, and productive reading session at your desk.

Your back

Make sure that your back is straight and supported. Leaning against the back of your chair is highly recommended in order to avoid putting strain on your back muscles, but make sure that your chair is helping you stay upright and not leaned back. Also, lumbar support is absolutely essential for extended reading sessions.

Your legs

There are two main aspects to consider when talking about your feet. You need to ensure that the proper blood circulation is allowed, and that your muscles are relaxed. Relaxing your muscles and resting your feet firmly on the ground with your knees bent at a 90 degrees angle ensures that your legs are not going to fall asleep and that your joints are not going to suffer from sitting longer. 

To ensure the correct blood flow in your legs and feet, you need to ensure that you don’t sit too far back in your chair to the extent where the back of your knees feels pressure from the chair. Also, it is strongly advised that you take breaks at least once an hour to prevent any circulation issues in your legs.

Your neck

We all know how annoying a sore neck can be. To avoid this, here at Basmo, we found that holding your book to a reasonable height can work wonders. By lifting the book to a comfortable level you make sure that your neck is not bent forward, which would put a lot of pressure on the muscles in the back of your neck. 

Your eyes

To avoid causing any issues to your eyes, you need to ensure that the proper distance (usually around 15 inches) between your eyes and the book is maintained throughout the entire reading session. Also, you should pay attention to the angle your eyes are trying to focus at. The closer your eyes are to focusing horizontally, the better. The book should be placed as close to the position where your eyes focus horizontally as possible. 

Is it Better to Read Sitting or Lying Down?

Without a doubt, lying down is a worse idea than reading while sitting. Even though you may feel more comfortable lying down, here at Basmo, we learned the hard way that comfort is only temporary. 

Your reading performance is also far superior while sitting upright on a chair than when you do it in bed. Lying down is correlated with a level of relaxation and a closeness to the moment we fall asleep which is incompatible with achieving your maximum potential while reading.

Sitting up will force you to be more focused, will help you retain more information, and will be a lot better for your body as well. That is not to say that if you can’t read sitting down you shouldn’t read at all, not by far. As long as you are comfortable and manage to handle certain conditions, reading in any position is far more beneficial than not reading.

But in order to improve the way you read and make sure that your correct reading sessions are more numerous than your incorrect ones, using a reading tracking app like Basmo can be the best possible solution. Here’s why:

You can use Basmo to achieve the best results through healthy reading habits

For example, timing your reading sessions can help you ensure that you don’t spend too much time in a position that is less than ideal. Basmo times all your reading sessions, so you will always know for how long you’ve been reading. On top of this, if you want to avoid reading in bed, you should make sure to read more during the day when lying in bed is not really an option. 

Basmo can help you create a flexible and highly personalized reading schedule which will ensure that your reading sessions take place whenever you think you are less likely to be tempted to lay in bed.

Basmo also provides you with comprehensive reading statistics, which means you will be able to track your performance and emotions while reading. 

Basmo tracks your feelings and emotions, allowing you to remember exactly how you felt after each reading session you tracked with the app.

On top of this, you can also keep a reading journal where you can log your reading positions so you can later associate them with the feelings and performance you displayed after each particular reading session.

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Final thoughts

Even though the best reading position can slightly differ from one person to another, there are some rules that should be applied to each and every one of us. Achieving the best reading posture is important if we want our reading to be done as close to peak performance as possible, and that is why using Basmo is highly advised both to amateur, aspiring and avid reading enthusiasts.

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