Read to Sleep: An Interview with a Sleep Medicine Specialist

Craving deep, restorative sleep? Break that habit of scrolling your phone before bed, and put on an audiobook or pick up a book instead.

The Read to Sleep campaign from Penguin Random House is here to remind us that reading a book (or listening to an audiobook) for a few minutes before bed will help you fall asleep faster—and feel better rested in the morning.

We interviewed W. Chris Winter, M.D., a board-certified and internationally recognized sleep medicine specialist and author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix it.

Read on for Dr. Winter’s tips on how reading sets the stage for sleep!

How does reading help with sleep?

Ending the day with a good book in your hand is an excellent way to prepare yourself for sleep. I’m a big fan of a real book with paper pages and a reading light. The small indirect light allows the room to be very dark prior to bed…an excellent environment for facilitating sleep. Reading from a book (opposed to being on a phone) improves sleepiness and reduces the time it takes to get to slow wave sleep. 

Tip from Easily find your next print book through your local bookstore via Bookstore Link.

Are there benefits in reading audiobooks as part of your bedtime routine? 

I think the ability to be entertained while totally being in the dark is an ideal environment for sleep!

Do you have any suggestions for people reading audiobooks before bed? 

Keep the room dark and cool, don’t pick anything too stressful, and make sure the voice reading the book is soothing!

What are some things that can help you fall asleep with all the anxiety we are all feeling right now? 

Facts about COVID-19 really help, so find a good source of information and know that simple measures like isolation and good hygiene (hand-washing) REALLY reduces risk. Keep your schedule, even though all of your schedule anchors (going to work, meal times, exercise) have suddenly disappeared. 

What is the worst thing we could do for our sleep right now? 

Alcohol before bed. Sedation and sleep are two different things!

What is the ONE thing we should all do right away to get better sleep?

Reestablish your exercise. Find a good Orangetheory online video, stick your bike on a trainer and download the Peloton app, run a living room marathon (seriously…it’s a thing), or order a book! (I just got Yoga for the Inflexible Male). Whatever it is, get your AM sweat on! 

Check out our Read to Sleep playlist, which features soothing audiobooks that set the stage for a night of deep slumber.

And be sure to sign up for updates from Read to Sleep for more tips and tricks during these trying times.

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