How to Read at Night

Four Parts:Making night reading comfortableReading digitally at nightReading without disturbing someone sleepingReading without falling asleep

Reading at night is similar to reading during the day except that a few challenges can present themselves, from inadequate comfort and light, to disturbing your sleeping partner. For a more enjoyable nighttime reading experience, there are plenty of things you can do.

Part 1
Making night reading comfortable

  1. Image titled Read at Night Step 1
    Set yourself up somewhere comfortable. Ensure that you have good support for your back and neck, especially after a hard day's work at the office or after staring at a screen all day. It's important to sit or lie in a way that won't cause you any neck or back pain or strain.
    • Ensure that you have good back and neck support if lying down or sitting on soft objects such as a couch. Add something helpful such as a horseshoe pillow or a large slanted pillow. Small neck pillows may be helpful too. If you're not sure what will help, talk to your physiotherapist for advice.
  2. Image titled Read at Night Step 2
    Read where there is sufficient lighting. Do not strain your eyes reading at night; sit or lie near a source of good lighting, such as a lamp, an overhead light or a book reading light.
    • If you need reading glasses, wear them. They will reduce the strain that causes your eyes to feel tired.
  3. Image titled Read at Night Step 3
    Read somewhere quiet. The brain is not made to multi-task, and if you try to watch TV and read at the same time, you'll find it is ineffective and frustrating. Give yourself the luxury of not reading and watching TV at the same time; TV is a distraction, reading requires your full concentration. Find a quiet place in the house if everyone else is reading.

Part 2
Reading digitally at night

  1. Image titled Read at Night Step 4
    Choose a suitable digital device for reading. For some, this might mean an eReader, for others, a laptop or tablet. Whatever you choose, ensure that you can read with ease, that there is sufficient light and that the reading device is either supported or it's not too heavy to hold.
    • Some digital devices suitable for reading come with a stand or you are able to purchase one separately, to allow for hands-free reading.
  2. Image titled Read at Night Step 5
    Keep digital reading for evening and early nighttime only. Avoid reading on a digital device prior to bedtime or late at night. This is because the bright screen can delay or suppress the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your circadian clock and helps you to feel sleepy.[1] It is probably a good idea to always turn down the level of brightness of the reading screen and to stop reading on the device about two hours before your intended bedtime.

Part 3
Reading without disturbing someone sleeping

  1. Image titled Read at Night Step 6
    If you enjoy reading in bed at night but this entails disturbing someone else, try some of these solutions:
    • Use a book light that clips onto the book. This will keep the light source directly over the book and not on the other person.
    • Read under the covers with a flashlight. This is a good one for when it's cold; however, it does need a reasonably large bed so that you can stretch comfortably and make allowance for the flashlight's positioning.
    • Pop a camping/hiking lamp on your head.
    • Read before bed. Make yourself comfortable on the couch or elsewhere (even the guest room) to do your reading, then quietly tiptoe to bed when you start feeling sleepy.
    • Avoid reading on a digital device unless it's very dim and your sleeping partner shows no evidence of being disturbed by it.
    • Consider an audio book instead. That way, you can put earphones in, hide any light source and listen to your favorite book in the dark, until you're sleepy.
    • Get your partner to read to you. Collaboration is fantastic for long-term relationships!
    • Live with someone who can sleep through anything.

Part 4
Reading without falling asleep

  1. Image titled Read at Night Step 7
    Ensure that you are getting enough sleep. Needing more sleep will bring on sleepiness when reading at night, accompanied by the effort put into reading.
  2. Image titled Read at Night Step 8
    Read something light. If you tend to feel sleepy when reading at night, stick to reading material that isn't asking much of you intellectually. If you don't have to try to grasp "the theory of X" but only have to read about "the romance of Y", you won't be thinking as hard, and it'll be less likely to cause drowsiness. If you are enjoying your reading, as opposed to having to read it because it's for work, class, etc., then it's likely you won't feel so drowsy either.
    • If you're studying or finalizing work, consider doing the tough reading earlier in the night. That way, you can leave lighter reading for bedtime.
  3. Image titled Read at Night Step 9
    Change your reading habits. It might be that you associate reading with bed. If so, cease reading in bed and do not read lying down at nighttime. Sit or stand to read instead. Experiment with different positions, to see if any make you more sleepy and others help you to stay awake while reading.


  • If you like to read at night on the bus, in a car (as a passenger), or while camping, avail yourself of a good head lamp, flashlight or flashlight app on your smartphone. These will help you to see the text, generally without disturbing anyone else.
  • If you don't like wearing a headlamp or holding a flashlight, consider hanging a lamp or flashlight off a lanyard for bed-time, camping or car nighttime reading.
  • There is an urban myth that reading in dim or dark light will damage your eyes.[2][3]While it's a myth, you may feel eye strain due to tired eyes, pain from straining your neck, etc., along with an inability to see the book's text that well. The strain you feel does not result in permanent eye damage.


  • If you fall asleep while reading, the book or digital device may fall to floor or get crushed by your body. If you fall asleep while listening to an audio book, the story will probably keep going on and you won't know where you were up to.
  • Reading in bed can be bad for your neck and back. Ensure that you have appropriate supports by way of pillows or neck rests. Changing positions a lot can help you to avoid a build-up of pain in one area.
  • Be aware of the potential consequences of reading a digital device before bedtime. If your circadian rhythm is disturbed regularly, this can lead to an accumulation of sleep deprivation, which can result in negative health impacts.
  • Some people can fall asleep easily after reading at night; others find it arouses their mental faculties too much and keeps them alert and awake. If you are in the latter category, don't read in the hour leading up to your sleep time.

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Categories: Books