Did you know that there is such a thing as Insomnia Awareness Day? It falls on March 10th and you can guess what it’s about.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, millions of people in the U.S. struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep.

  • 30 to 35% have brief symptoms of insomnia.
  • 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, which lasts less than three months.
  • 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months.

Around 30% of adults have experienced chronic insomnia and while we fool ourselves into thinking that we are relaxing when we’re watching TV in bed or playing a game on our phones, those activities actually stimulate the brain. So they are counterproductive.

Taking a book to bed though, is a sure way to drop off to sleep before long.

It takes just 6 minutes of reading to significantly relax and fall asleep. When compared with other popular night time activities, reading has been proven to help people fall asleep the quickest, according to the Mattress Online.

They looked at the science behind reading before bed and recommends different books and genres to tackle various sleep worries, Hazel Ramsell, Mattress Online Outreach & PR Executive told Ideapod.

They referenced research by Sussex University, Cognitive neuropsychologist, Dr. David Lewis who found that reading worked best to help people fall asleep. It was found that reading reduces stress levels by a whopping 68%, outperforming listening to music (61%), drinking a hot drink (54%) and taking a walk (43%).

You only need to read for six minutes to slow down your heart rate and ease tension in the muscles, thus reducing stress levels to lower than before you started reading.

This makes sense doesn’t it? Where are the days when we completely lost ourselves in a book? Have we completely forgotten what bliss that used to be?

Lewis told The Telegraph that reading is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate one’s creativity and cause one to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.

“It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination,” he said.

Lewis says it doesn’t matter what you read and in my experience that is true, but Mattress Online has taken the trouble to figure out what to read under different circumstances. Here are their suggestions:

If you need to de-stress: Howard’s End by E.M. Forster

If you struggle to fall asleep: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

If you tend to fall asleep while reading, try a short story: All the Beloved Ghosts by Alison Macleod

If you want to be more creative: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you want to learn something new: Names for the Sea by Sarah Moss

For myself I would find something like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone too exciting, it will keep me reading for hours. I always choose a book on philosophy, spirituality or something I know nothing about and that’s a bit challenging for me.

No, I’m not intellectual at all – these topics just don’t manage to keep me awake for long!

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