Want to sleep better in 2024? Here's the one thing you should do before bed

A woman reads a book in bed before going to sleep
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The new year is here and with it comes lots of plans for self improvement. But if you’re already feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of overhauling your lifestyle, why not try a more achievable resolution? Better sleep is something we can all benefit from, and reading before bed is an easy way to supercharge your rest (and make a start on your 2024 to-read list).

Reading a calming book before bed can reduce stress levels, making it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Just a few minutes of reading can be effective at aiding sleep, making this one of the easiest (and most enjoyable) new year’s resolutions around.

You don’t have to be snuggled up on one of our best mattresses to feel the benefits of reading before bed (although an improved sleep surface can do wonders for your rest). Simply indulging in a good book can be enough to get you drifting off. Here we explore why reading before bed can be so beneficial.

Can reading before bed help you sleep?

Yes, research has shown that reading before bed is an excellent way to encourage good sleep. A 2021 study found that reading in bed not only helped participants fall asleep, but also helped them stay asleep, compared to participants that didn’t read before bed.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time reading to feel the benefits. Research from 2009 indicated that reading could lower stress levels by 68 per cent, and just six minutes of reading could improve sleep.

Getting more sleep can have numerous benefits for your health. Good sleep can aid recovery and help your immune system, while bad sleep can take a toll on your mental health. A reading resolution is a quick, easy, and affordable way to improve your sleep, for a healthier 2024.

Man lying face down asleep in bed

(Image credit: Getty)

What kind of books should you read before bed?

There's nothing quite like a bit of murder and mystery before bed, but if you got the latest thriller novel over the holidays, you might want to save it for daytime reading. At least, if you want to achieve a deep, restful, nightmare-free sleep, that is.

A woman lies in bed reading a scary book

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“Whilst reading before bed can reduce your stress levels, some genres are better suited than others,” says Dr Katherine Hall, sleep psychologist at Happy Beds. “For example, I’d recommend avoiding any books that are too mentally stimulating or emotionally distressing before bed. This includes genres such as intense thrillers, crime novels, or emotionally distressing literature.”

What does Dr Hall suggest for bedtime reading? “I’d recommend opting for light-hearted fiction, short stories, or genres that promote relaxation, such as romance novels, light fantasy or similar. These genres are more likely to create a conducive environment that promotes better sleep,” explains Dr Hall.

Essentially, avoid anything that might send your heart rate rocketing, making it harder for you to wind down and fall asleep. Instead, if you want to sleep soundly, consider reaching for that old favorite, or the cheesy romance you've been avoiding on the morning commute.

A headshot of sleep expert Dr Katherine Hall
Dr Katherine Hall

Dr Katherine Hall is a Sleep Psychologist who specializes in treating insomnia. She holds degrees with specializations in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia. With over 13 years of clinical experience working in the public and private sectors, Katherine is dedicated to improving sleep health.

Ruth Jones
Staff Writer

Ruth is TechRadar’s Sleep Writer. She’s here to help you find the perfect sleep setup for your budget and personal preferences. As well as keeping a keen eye on everything that’s going on in the world of mattresses, she regularly speaks to experts to help you learn how to improve your sleep habits, whether that’s by debunking sleep myths or explaining the science behind it all. Prior to joining the TechRadar team, she wrote features and product guides for new parents hoping to get a decent night's sleep, as well as writing for a variety of online spaces.