Reading in Bed: the Benefits, Pillows, and Books

Posted by Rachel Marshall - Brand Manager on 28th Jul 2023

Reading in Bed: the Benefits, Pillows, and Books

Book worms looking for a supportive pillow that will keep them comfy as they devour page after page are in luck. We’ve done some thorough research to bring you a collection of pillows that are ideal when it comes to reading in bed.

And that’s not all. We’ll also explain the benefits of reading before and in bed as well as a collection of our top 2023 bedtime reads.

So, whether you’re looking for bedtime reading inspiration or the best pillow for reading in bed, read on to unveil all.

The benefits of reading in bed

There are numerous benefits to reading in bed. Not only can reading help you to wind down and prepare your mind and body for sleep; it can help you to de-stress after a difficult day (1). Here are three reasons that reading before bed is a good idea in a little more detail.

A woman reading while propped up, leaning on her pillow in bed by the light of a lamp on the nightstand next to her

1. Reading before bed gives you a break from the screen

There is a link between poor sleep quality and looking at screens. Examples of the screens we fall slave to day after day include televisions, laptops, smart phones, e-readers, and tablets.

If we are exposed to bright blue wavelength light within the last 90 minutes before sleep, this can delay or reduce the natural surge of melatonin that your body produces in preparation for sleep (2). Screens can also promote cognitive arousal and make it harder to switch off.

Instead, reach for a book. A paperback or a hardback – either is a great alternative to a screen. Plus, books offer an escape in many ways. You can escape from reality or from the blue light emitted by modern-day technology.

2. Reading a book helps to relieve stress

A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading actually reduces stress by up to 68% (3). Reading helps to both lower your heart rate and ease tension in your muscles.

Our resident sleep expert, Dr Sophie Bostock, suggests 'reading a book to reduce your stress levels and improve creativity, before you switch out the light.

The printed page is less alerting for the brain than backlit screens. Scientists found that picking up a book for just 6 minutes can reduce muscle tension and slow the heart rate, readying the body for sleep'.

That said, if you are reading in an attempt to de-stress, relax and unwind before bed, choose a book with a relaxing concept. Avoid edge of your seat thrillers and crime dramas at bedtime as these are likely to reel you in which could result you sacrificing sleep. Especially if you just have to find out what happens next. Choose books featuring topics you enjoy. Wellness books and educational hobby-based reads could be a great idea for anyone looking for something to read before they drift off to sleep.

3. Reading a book before bed helps you to exercise your mind

Reading enables you to distract yourself from negative thought patterns (4). As you can read while lying down or propped up on your reading pillow, it helps to slowly relax both your mind and body.

This has the potential to improve your sleep quality too. As you relax into sleep as opposed to forcing yourself into a restful state, reading before bed could leave you feeling well-rested when you wake in the morning.

How to choose the best pillow for reading in bed

Now that we’ve outlined the key benefits to reading before or in bed, it’s time to find the best pillow to support your new sleep hygiene routine.

Choosing the right reading pillow can make a significant difference in how comfortable you are while reading yourself to sleep. The primary role of a pillow is to support your head, neck, and shoulders and keep them properly aligned with your spine.

Another thing to be aware of is that different pillow types and materials offer differing levels of comfort and support. And different sleep positions have different requirements.

What to think about when buying a reading pillow

When choosing a reading pillow, here’s what you need to think about:

  • Budget. As with any new purchase, it’s a good idea to take a look at your finances and set yourself a budget before purchasing a new pillow. Pillows typically range in price quite drastically. At Bensons, our pillows range in price from around £13right up to £100. So, if you have a budget in mind beforehand, it’ll give you an idea of the price bracket you should be looking at.
  • Sleeping position. Your preferred sleep position is a key factor to think about when purchasing a new pillow. While many of us change our sleep position throughout the night, it’s a good idea to think about your preferred reading and sleeping position when shopping for the best reading pillow for your needs.
  • Loft or pillow thickness. A pillow’s loft basically translates to its height or thickness. Side sleepers generally benefit from thicker pillows like the Dunlopillo Hybrid Side Sleeper Pillow, and back sleepers usually get along better with pillows that offer a medium thickness as they avoid tilting the neck. And on the other side of the coin, stomach sleepers usually prefer a very thin pillow such as the Dunlopillo Serenity Luxury Latex Pillow. The iGel front & back sleeper pillow is a good example of an appropriate reading pillow for both front and back sleepers.
  • Temperature control. Generally, what materials a pillow is filled and covered with will affect its temperature regulation abilities. If you’re constantly searching for the cold side of the pillow, our iGel side-sleeper deep pillows could provide the ideal solution. The Staples & Co Cooling Memory pillow is another good option for cold side of the pillow seekers too.
  • Firmness. Just like mattresses, pillows are available in a range of different firmness levels. Your preferred sleeping and reading position along with your body weight are good indicators of which pillow firmness level is best suited to your needs. As a general rule, stomach sleepers benefit from soft pillows, while back and side sleepers are better supported by firmer pillows.

Once you’ve worked your way through the list of things to think about, you should have a good indication about what you personally are looking for in a reading pillow. But, there are other solutions available.

Headboards for reading in bed

Now that we’ve outlined the benefits of reading before bed and we’ve worked through what to think about when shopping for a reading pillow, here’s an alternative solution that could be worth trying out. Especially if you like to sit up while reading and winding down.

Headboards are the perfect backrest if you want to wile away the time reading in bed. A plush, fabric upholstered headboard would give you the comfort you crave as you turn page after page. And not only will a headboard offer you additional comfort while reading in bed, it’ll also protect your walls in the process too.

Best books for reading in bed: Our top 5 bedtime reads

An empty bed with slightly ruffled covers set against a white half-panelled wall with a natural wooden bedside table featuring a pile of books, a lamp and a wicker drinks tray with a lone coffee cup and saucer

Finally, to wrap up our reading in bed topic let’s discuss the best books to read before bed! In no particular order, here are our favourite bedtime book titles:

1.The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by The Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams

If you’re looking for an inspirational bedtime read, this is one of the best. This incredible book recounts the Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s visit to the Dalai Lama’s home. Both intimate stories and life lessons are exchanged. If you want to be lulled to sleep on a positive note that will inspire you to be a better person each and every day, this is the book for you. It’s an exploration kindness, friendship, and world peace.

2. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

If you’re a lover of chick-lit, you’ll adore the perfect balance of romance, humour, and relaxation Sophie Kinsella achieves in this book. The Undomestic Goddess tells the story of a workaholic attorney who makes a huge mistake and feels forced to seek refuge as a housekeeper in the English countryside. While the story is engaging, it is much slower in pace than Sophie Kinsella’s other literary works. This is what makes it the ideal book to read before bed as you’re trying to wind down.

3. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

The Alchemist reads just like those fairy tales you used to love so much as a young child. And there’s a web of deep life lessons to be learned from every page. On the surface, this relaxing tale of a shepherd called Santiago who sets off on a magical quest will lull you to sleep. However, dive into reading beyond the lines and you’ll discover its hidden philosophy encompassing the universe and encouraging readers to follow their dreams. Blur the lines between reality and dreams as you drift between the two while devouring this eloquent read.

4. This Book Will Put You to Sleep by Professor K. McCoy and Dr Hardwick

With a title like that, surely we’re onto a winner with this one! It will serve you well to remember that reading before bed doesn’t necessarily need to be interesting. This book comprises of an assortment of sleep-inducing short stories coupled with plenty of illustrations to ponder. There are even pages featuring pictures of sheep you can count. While it sounds a little bizarre, boring works best where reading to relax and fall asleep is concerned.

5. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhD

And when all else fails, why not try relaxing with a book about sleep! This book is written by a neuroscientist. It explores the links between sleep and our physical and mental well-being. Understanding why we need sleep could be the first step towards sleeping better. And so, this one is definitely worth a mention.


authors profile
Rachel Marshall
Brand Manager
Rachel has worked at Bensons for Beds for 4 years and has almost 20 year’s experience in marketing. In her role at Bensons, Rachel looks after all things brand including PR, brand communications, brand identity, brand partnerships and new product launches.
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