Is Reading While Lying Down Such a Good Idea?

Reading While Lying Down

Even though reading in itself has a lot of benefits, both for our mental and physical health, there are things we can do to enhance the experience. While most of us find pleasure in spending an evening lying on a couch and reading, the experience would be significantly different if we were to choose to do it in a different position. 

Is it bad to read while lying down? Well, there are certain things you need to learn about reading while lying down in order to make sure that the mistakes you could make don’t end up ruining your favorite pastime activity. 

The harmful effects of reading while lying down are nothing to be particularly concerned about, as they are relatively easy to prevent or avoid, but we shouldn’t disregard their importance either. 

Is it bad to read while lying down?

Well, bad is a tough word to use when it comes to something that involves reading. As we all know, reading has a ton of benefits, so calling reading, under any circumstances, a bad thing would be a mistake. Reading while lying down is not ideal though. 

Your desire to read in a comfortable position is easily understandable. Many of us associate reading with relaxation, and it makes perfect sense for the position you do your reading in to reflect this association. What may seem comfortable at first glance, may turn out to be a little problematic in the end though.

While reading lying down is clearly a better option than not reading at all, there are some things to consider before you decide to do your reading like this. First of all, do you have any idea how long you are going to be reading for? Second, what is the purpose of your reading session? Are you trying to unwind with an easy fiction book, or are you trying to learn something?

The position you will be reading in will play a role in how comfortable, effective, and enjoyable your reading session will be depending on its duration and purpose. It may seem silly to take so many things into consideration when it comes to deciding whether you should be reading while lying down, but the upcoming sections in this article will shed some light on the necessity of this thought process. 

Why is reading while lying down bad?

Even though, as I mentioned, reading while lying down is better than not reading at all, there are some negative aspects of this reading position that you should be well aware of in order to make an informed decision whenever you choose to lie down with a book on your couch or bed. 

You get tired quickly

Whether you lie down on your back or on your belly, reading from a horizontal position will put a strain on your body, even though it may seem extremely comfortable at first. If you lie on your back with your head tilted down towards the book, the back of your neck will start hurting soon. If you lie on your back and try to hold the book vertically with your arms straight, you will put a strain on your arms. If you lie on your belly and support yourself on your elbows, your elbows and shoulders will start hurting. 

Regardless of the way you will try to read while lying down, one thing is for sure: you won’t be able to do it for too long. Your reading session will be cut short because of the strain you will put on your body.

Puts strain on the eyes

Reading while lying down is not ideal for your eyes either. The horizontal position will force you to put a strain on the muscles around the eyes. Especially the extraocular muscles that make the eye movement possible, will be the ones suffering because of the unnatural position they will be forced to keep the eyes pointing towards. 

This will translate into fatigue, which will eventually cause discomfort, teary eyes, and will slow your reading speed. This will decrease the effectiveness of your reading session and will make the experience a lot less enjoyable.

You will read less because you will become sleepy

One of the many benefits of reading is that it can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better. If you do your reading while lying down, the chances of becoming sleepy are quite high. Getting sleepy every time you lie down to read a book will eventually cut all your reading sessions short and will have a negative effect on the amount of reading you manage to get done.

And as we all struggle to read more, not less, it would be a shame to sabotage your reading time with something as easy to change as your reading position. Falling asleep or simply feeling too sleepy to keep reading a short time after you even started is clearly not ideal and you should not take the risk of oversleeping too light either. 

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Does reading while lying down affect your eyesight?

Reading while lying down is clearly not good for your eyes. The fact that your eyes need to focus on the words in the book in an unnatural and difficult position does put a strain on the ocular muscles.

Luckily though, this strain caused by the fact that your eyes will need to focus at an awkward angle will not do any permanent damage and will not result in worsened eyesight. 

It can cause fatigue, discomfort, feeling of irritation, eye redness, blurred vision, headaches, dryness, or even a burning sensation. As you can see, even though no permanent damage will be caused by reading lying down, there are still enough reasons to avoid doing it. 

How to read while lying down? 

If you’re still wondering “how can I read while lying down?”, the good news is that there are things you can do to make this activity more pleasurable and less uncomfortable. Even though the general ideology around reading while lying down still remains that the best course of action is to simply not do it and to choose a different position, for those of you who love it too much to completely give it up, we managed to find some interesting solutions.

Using a special pillow

As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest issues with reading while lying in bed is the fact that the position will soon feel uncomfortable. One possible way to avoid this is to use a special reading pillow, also known as the husband pillow. What makes it special and a good solution for prolonged reading sessions lying down is the fact that its shape was purposefully designed to offer you the support you need.

The pillow is actually a backrest pillow chair with arms, which helps you lay down at a comfortable angle while supporting the back of your neck, your head, and also offers lateral support, helping you avoid sitting at an awkward angle which would generally result in back pain, neck pain, or even shoulder pain.

Obviously, they come in a variety of colors and materials to match any taste and the costs of purchasing one are low enough to justify its effectiveness. 

Using special glasses

Special reading glasses, also known as prism glasses, are basically small periscopes for each eye. By using a system of mirrors on each lens, they change the actual direction you are looking towards without forcing your eyes to focus at an angle that makes the experience uncomfortable. 

The glasses basically bend your vision by 90 degrees, so while you lay down and look up, the image you will actually see will be of the book you are holding on your chest. This removes the risk of putting strain on your eyes, allowing you to avoid eye muscle fatigue, irritation, and all the other negative effects of forcing your eyes to focus at an awkward angle. 

Since the prism glasses bend your vision by 90 degrees, this means that you can also keep your body in a perfectly horizontal position, which will also eliminate the strain you would normally put on your neck muscles while reading in bed with your head propped at a higher angle with a pillow. 

Using a tablet stand

Tablet stands have been around for years now and people are still finding new and innovative uses for them. One thing you can do if you own a tablet stand is to use it to position your book in a position that makes it comfortable to read while lying down. 

They are infinitely adjustable, which means you can decide how high you need them to stand and what angle they should be holding your book at depending on your preference and most comfortable position.

They take up very little space when you’re not using them and they can provide an ergonomic position in very many situations and scenarios, not only while reading in bed. 

Create healthy reading habits

It may sound like a cliche similar to the classic “the safest way to go skiing is to not go”, but in this case, the thought process is more logical than you would expect.

Instead of finding creative solutions for reading while lying down, a much wiser approach would be to try and create healthier reading habits that can last a lifetime. Yes, reading while lying down is relaxing to a certain extent, and some of the physical problems it can cause can be avoided by using different products like the ones I mentioned above.

But a device that keeps you from getting sleepy while you read in bed hasn’t been invented yet. A device that makes you read as effectively lying down as you do when sitting up still doesn’t exist. You may avoid putting a strain on your eyes, neck, and back, but you still won’t get the same result from your reading session if you do it lying down.

One thing you can do is start using Basmo, the ultimate reading tracking app. Among other features meant to help the modern reader, Basmo dedicates a lot of its resources to promoting and helping you achieve healthy reading habits.

Basmo App
The Basmo app

If you want to make the best of every single reading session you have, the best way to do that is to create a reading schedule

That way you ensure that you only read during the day whenever you have the time, which will help you avoid being tempted to do your reading in bed.

Basmo’s scheduler is completely personalizable, which means you can select any day or days of the week for your reading sessions according to your weekly schedule and set them at any time of day when you know you will have some free time.

Not only will Basmo help you bring some healthy structure into your reading habits, but it will also remind you through notifications on your mobile device that a scheduled reading session is supposed to start. That way you never forget about reading, and sooner than you think, your reading schedule will become second nature. 

If you just can’t give up on your lying-down reading sessions, a good thing you can do to avoid their negative effects is to make sure you keep them short.

Basmo is here to help with that as well. If you use Basmo every time you read, you will be able to set a certain time limit to your reading sessions so that you avoid putting a strain on your eyes, muscles, and joints with prolonged reading sessions in awkward positions. 

Simply keep your reading sessions under 30 minutes for example, or as long as you find that you manage to read lying down, and let Basmo tell you when it’s time to stop, stand up, and straighten your back and neck. 

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Final thoughts

So, is it bad to read while lying down? Well, it’s not ideal and has the potential to generate some pretty serious negative effects, but it still beats not reading at all by a long mile. Even if it’s not the best idea, with a couple of ingenious products and the benefits of using Basmo, you can make it work.

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