Reading and sleep are both very important activities. But sometimes, sleepiness can interrupt your reading session.
You may ask yourself: “Why does reading make me sleepy?”
I’ll try to answer that question, and also provide other useful information on the subject.
Everyone has their own way of going through the day. We have a list of things we would like to get done on that day. We prioritize the most important things, and afterwards work through the things that aren’t as urgent. But oftentimes, we don’t get as much done as we would like. For some people, this happens quite often with regards to reading.
I myself sometimes lay in bed at the end of the day hoping to enjoy a book, but I often find myself falling asleep while reading. Perhaps this happens to you too sometimes. Some people read during the day, but even then become drowsy and sleepy.
Why does reading make me sleepy?
There are multiple factors which will cause people to begin to feel drowsy. While some can affect you more than others, it would be good to have a general idea of these factors, so that you can notice them when they begin to occur and address them properly and promptly.
Lack of sleep
Probably the most common factor which causes you to fall asleep while reading is the lack of sleep with which too many people have unfortunately become accustomed. The work atmosphere in the big cities is quite stressful. On top of that, people have their own personal problems which stress them out. Add to that the chaos and noise of the city, and it’s easy to see how people become tired.
But tiredness is not limited to the city. Hard work in the fields and tending to the livestock can also exhaust a person physically. Therefore, one of the elementary necessities for all these people, both from the city and from the countryside, is sleep. Sleep allows people to effectively recharge their batteries and renew their stamina so that they are equipped with the required energy for another day.
No matter how hard you want to focus on that book, or how interesting the unravelling plot is, if you haven’t slept enough you will not be able to focus properly.
Your posture will have very much to do with your mental acuity. My dad used to always tell me to sit up straight with my feet on the floor when working on my homework. While I didn’t admit it at the time, I begin to agree that the way you position yourself has a big impact on how well you do things. I would often study for my upcoming tests while laying down, but as you can probably imagine, my concentration wouldn’t be at its best.
Sitting in one position for a long time can cause your body to think that it is supposed to go to sleep. Oftentimes we like to read in a comfortable position, choosing a soft armchair or even laying down in bed. This is dangerous, however, because it may trigger our sleepiness.
Our body perhaps recognizes the fact that whenever we sleep at night, we are laying down. Therefore, if we lay down during the day, our body may automatically prepare for sleep.
The place in which we do our reading usually will also have a significant impact on our mental awareness. A dark room with little or no natural light can have negative effects on your concentration and psychological outlook.
Also, the atmosphere of the room will impact your focus. If the room is stuffy and poorly aired, the lack of oxygen and the extreme quiet can cause you to fall asleep.
We’ve all experienced boredom. It can be caused by multiple factors. Maybe you’ve been reading for the past few hours and are ready to do something else, or maybe you just don’t feel like reading today, or perhaps you’ve got a lot of energy and need to go for a run. Moreover, the book you’re reading might be horribly boring. Whatever the reason, boredom can be another factor that makes you drowsy while reading.
Lack of discipline
Though we don’t like admitting this, our lack of discipline will often impact us negatively.
Reading takes concentration, and sometimes even mental exertion. Therefore, it is logical that our brain will tire after a while, and will start showing symptoms of fatigue.
Without the required discipline, we will soon succumb to the temptation of just taking a 5 minute nap, or of laying down to read, which will only contribute to a further degradation of our reading attention, and may even lead to our falling asleep.
Why do I get tired when I read? Well, as stated above, reading is an activity which requires concentration. Furthermore, your eyes need to focus on the text and keep moving constantly and precisely. This activity will obviously tire your eyes. But the speed with which your eyes tire depends on the dimension and clarity of the text, as well as the surface from which you are reading it.
Small and unclear text will clearly cause greater strain on your eyes, and will cause you to lose focus and become tired more easily. Another risk factor is reading from screens, whether they be computers, smartphones, or TV’s. The glare of the screen can cause, among many other negative effects, eye fatigue. This in turn may lead to overall fatigue which may cause sleepiness.
Here is an article presenting negative aspects of prolonged screen time.
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How to not fall asleep while reading?
Before we go into seeing how we can deal with the factors causing drowsiness while reading, I would like to make an important observation.
Some readers, while reading this article, may understand that sleepiness caused by reading is to be avoided in any and all situations. This is not true.
Many people actually appreciate and use the sleepiness induced by reading because it helps them get to sleep. Sometimes people lay in bed trying to fall asleep, but are simply unable to. Apparently, reading is advisable for such situations, as it can help people momentarily forget about their worries and anxieties and sink their attention into something else.
For more information on the beneficial sleeping capabilities of reading, check out this article.
Now that we’ve clarified what some of the possible factors which can cause sleepiness while reading are, I will try to provide some ideas on how to combat these situations in order for you to enjoy your reading sessions without falling asleep.
1. Make sure you get enough rest at night
As explained in the previous section, lack of sleep will keep you from being able to focus on your reading and from comprehending the text. Moreover, it can cause you to fall asleep while reading, compromising your reading session altogether. For this reason, it is important that you take care to get the rest you need each night.
A good way of doing this would be to design a schedule which you will respect faithfully. Getting up and going to bed at the same hour each day can help keep you better rested. Also, make sure the schedule allows for you to get enough hours of sleep. It seems that for adults, the recommended sleeping time is between 7 and 9 hours per night.
This article provides more information on this topic.
If you make sure to get enough sleep, you should be feeling more refreshed. If your reading session is during the day, it should also help you concentrate on your book and enable you to comprehend the text better. It should also decrease your chances of falling asleep while reading.
2. Sit comfortably, but don’t compromise your posture
It is important for you to realize just how much of an impact your posture has on your mental outlook. If reading is truly important to you, then make a few sacrifices in order to benefit fully from it. If you lay down while reading, chances are you will snooze or lose focus. Try to find a comfortable but upright position when reading.
Obviously, it depends on what kind of reading you are doing. If you are studying for an exam, or looking to increase your knowledge in a certain field, it may be advisable to go for a more serious posture, maybe even sitting at a desk. But if you are just reading for pleasure and to relax, you can obviously opt for a more comfortable place such as an armchair or sofa.
In any case, remember that your posture will affect your mental outlook, and that if you are laying down you are exposing yourself to an increased risk of falling asleep while reading or of losing your concentration.
The best would be to find a comfortable upright reading condition rather than laying on your back on a bed when reading. Sitting on a chair or sofa is ideal.
3. Choose a well-lit and well-aired room
You may not be aware of this, but it seems that lack of oxygen can cause a person to feel sleepy, among other things. Regardless of how it impacts your reading, having a well-aired room is obviously something to be desired.
Even if it’s cold outside, gather up the courage and face the cold. Open those windows for a while in order for oxygen to replace the carbon dioxide inside your home.
If you often ask yourself “why do I fall asleep when I read?”, then you should also analyze the room you sit in while reading. If it is rather dark, with little or no natural light, this can be one of the big reasons for nodding off with the book in your hands.
In order to counter this situation, try pulling the curtains back and allowing the sunlight to come into your house. Another option is to take your book and head to the park, where you can enjoy nature, bask in the sunlight, and also read your book at the same time.
Don’t hesitate to turn your lights on while reading either. Having enough light, even if it’s artificial, will allow you both to stay awake for longer while reading and it will also keep the strain on your eyes to a minimum.
4. Find ways to defeat boredom
If what you read is of absolutely no interest to you, it might be a good idea to switch books and find something more to your liking.
Reading apps are well known for providing users with ways of making the reading experience better and more interactive. Whether it’s taking notes while reading, keeping a reading journal or simply tracking your reading sessions, reading apps are a great tool for readers of all levels and ages.
Basmo, the reader-friendly app, can help you find books that might be more appealing to you. It allows you to make book collections and wishlists, as well as to keep track of the books you’ve read and what your thoughts on them were.
For example, here is how you can create and organize a reading list with Basmo:
- Go to the My Books tab on your Basmo home screen.
- Scroll down to Book Collections and tap View all collections.
- Tap + Create book collection to add a new collection.
- You can name it anything you want and start adding books to it.
That’s it! Rinse and repeat for every new list you want to create. Of course, you can always move books between lists, add or delete new books to an existing list, and so on.
On top of this, Basmo allows users to create visual quotes from their favorite passages in the books they are reading, with different fonts and colors, thanks to the integrated graphical editor.
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Another way to fight off boredom is to take occasional breaks. Try to go for a run or a fast walk to energize yourself. After invigorating yourself, try reading again. Sometimes you can’t choose what to read, in the case of exam materials or other necessary reading, but you can still find ways to fight boredom and prevent yourself from falling asleep while reading.
5. Discipline yourself
Build a schedule and try respecting it. Little by little, start taking steps to ensure you follow your routine. Select an hour at which to read, and be faithful to it, but also make sure it’s at a time of day where you’ll be less tired and more capable of reading while paying attention.
Keeping track of your reading is essential for a good reading discipline. And again, a great tool to help with that is a reading app. They allow users to have a better overview of their reading habits, and make creating a reading schedule a lot easier.
Basmo can help by offering you the possibility to set up reading reminders at the hours at which you schedule them so you never miss out on your reading sessions.
It might also be of help to have a reading target which you try to achieve. You can set yourself a target such as a book per month.
You can easily do this from the Basmo app, by following the steps below:
- Open the Basmo app
- Tap on Goals on the bottom of your screen
- Tap on Adjust your Goals and set your target
This may help you keep yourself accountable regarding what you decide to read. This may motivate you to apply yourself more seriously to reading.
6. Take care of your eyes
Long reading times can cause your eyes to become tired. There are exercises out there for relaxing your eyes and maintaining their health.
But be very careful with screens, and take measures to protect your eyes from the light they emit. Reading books is better than reading on computer or phone screens, both for your eyes and perhaps for your mental well-being, since you can keep away from all the distractions with a physical book.
We’ve agreed that falling asleep while reading is something that happens to many of us often. If we actually consider reading something important in our life, then we should take measures to apply ourselves to it and pursue it while being wide awake.
By working on factors such as fatigue, posture, and other aspects, we can try to improve our focus and prevent ourselves from dozing with the book in our hands.
I hope I’ve answered your question, “why does reading make me sleepy?”, and that you now have some ideas on how to tackle this issue.
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