I read every night before bed for five days and this is what happened


Aaron Burden via Unsplash

“Was I reading or was I dreaming? After a whole page of reading, my consciousness left me and I fell asleep.” – Jake Wilson

Jake Wilson, Staff Writer, [email protected]

After a long day, you go home, put on your pajamas and get ready for bed. As you lay down on your bed, you pull out your phone and start watching YouTube. Each video you watch, time flies by. When you check the time, it’s already midnight.

The effect your phone has on your sleep is extraordinary. According to a recent study by Reviews, Americans spend an average of 50 minutes on their phones before bed.

“Looking at bright LCD screens at night can produce a confusing signal to our brains that we should stay awake,” said Associate Professor of psychology Michael Neelon.

Review officials say nearly half of Americans consider themselves addicted to cell phones. Of those surveyed, 43% say their phone is their most valuable possession.

“There is lots of new research on how phones affect not only our physical health and cognition, but also our motivation, emotions and social interactions. I’ve done some research with my students on the effects of phones on our lives and as part of our reading, I’ve learned that nearly 80 different surveys have been created in just the past decade alone to measure or identify excessive or problematic smartphone use. So, researchers know this is a very important question and one that is particularly relevant to contemporary life,” Neelon said.

According to a study by SleepJunkie, only 38% of the participants read before bed.

“Reading on paper before bed is always a great idea. It reduces exposure to blue light but also disconnects you from the arousing ‘engagement’ of social media, which could also disrupt successful somnolence. And reading is always good for your crystallized IQ,” Neelon said.

Speaking as someone who never reads before bed, I decided it would be a great idea to try it out for five days and see what the benefits are.


1. No Phone
Before bed, I will put my phone on the charger and I am not allowed to pick it up at any time.

2. I must read at least one page
No matter how tired I am, I need to read at least one page before bed.

3. Paper reading only
I can not read off a screen. I can only read off of paper which includes books, magazines and text books.

Night One:
After a long day of watching football, I got ready for bed and picked up my book. While opening up the book, I felt the urge to grab my phone and watch YouTube instead. I took a deep breath, thought of the benefits and forced my mind to enjoy what I was doing.

The book was interesting. If I was reading a nonfiction piece, which I don’t enjoy as much, I would have probably quit this challenge on the first night. My mind would wander off in space from time to time in the first minutes, but as I kept on going I started to really picture the scenes in great detail.

I tried to let my mind wander but it really became invested in the story. At first, my attention span felt like it was water in a windy river, jumping from bank to bank, trying to rest. As I continued, it felt like water in a comforting stream. It flowed calmly without restriction. I could really immerse myself in the book and try not to think about how many pages I was reading or how much time I had left.

Before long I had read 35 pages, and I did not want to stop. I took a break to look down at my phone. I jumped when I looked at the time.

12:30 a.m.

Time to go to bed!

I put my book on the nightstand and tried to rest my eyes. I thought I would go to sleep sooner but it took quite a while to fall asleep. I lay there with my eyes closed, imagining the characters I was reading about and what was going to happen next.

Night Two:
One thing I noticed in the morning was my reading for class drastically improved. Usually when I read, it feels like I am reading the words but nothing will stay locked in my head. I could now retain the information I was reading about and I felt a sense of achievement.

When I finally got in bed, I was excited to open up my book. I wanted to read at least a chapter or two and I couldn’t wait to see how the story progressed. Well… my brain thought otherwise.

It started off smoothly. I was launched into the world I was reading about and my mind entered the story with ease. I finished one chapter and thought, “Man, I can read three more of these tonight.” But then, I felt something creep on me.

I was really tired.

Words started to jumble together. I would read a sentence and re-read it again because I didn’t understand it. I became frustrated. Why was my mind doing this?

I finally gave up after reading a total of 14 pages for the night. I closed my book and put it on the nightstand. I could feel my face warming up as soon as I hit the pillow. How did I somehow go backwards? Did I do something wrong? That’s all I remember.

I woke up. It felt like I was knocked out once my head hit the pillow. Now everything made sense, it seems like I was really tired.

Night Three:
I notice myself not using my phone as much in the day. I can’t believe I used to just sit and stare at my phone for hours just to go to bed, just mindlessly scrolling until I eventually fell asleep. I’m glad I am trying something new and from what I have experienced, it has been helping a lot with my sleep.

Today was long. School, work and some intramural sports really wore me out. I could not wait to hit the hay.

I picked up my book and started to read. Word after word, I felt my eyes drooping. It felt like I was getting hypnotized.

“You are getting very sleepy.”

Was I reading or was I dreaming? After a whole page of reading, my consciousness left me and I fell asleep.

Confused and drooling, I woke up in the middle of the night with a book in my lap and the lights still on. Who needs melatonin, am I right?

I went back to sleep.

Night Four:
I decided to switch things up on night four and read another book. Originally, I was reading a science fiction novel that took me a while to get into. I thought to myself, “why don’t you try a graphic novel instead?”

My phone lay next to me on the charger as I opened the first page of my new book. This was my first time reading a graphic novel since middle school. It was weird at first but eventually it became easier.

BUZZZZZZ! My phone went off.

I don’t need it.

After that brief distraction, I went back into reading. I just let my mind become occupied by the pages and pictures I was perceiving.

After 15 pages, I felt it again. The same feeling from the previous night. My eyes felt like they were getting pulled down by a mysterious force. The pages started to fade and my thoughts became so real I could see them.

I need to sleep.
I tried to read a couple more pages but it wasn’t worth it. I lost that battle again.

I put my book on my nightstand and turned off my lamp. As the darkness filled my room, my body started to relax. Eventually after a few minutes, I fell asleep.

Night Five:
This was it. The finale of my experiment was finally here. Honestly, I wasn’t dreading it. Even though it was a Friday night, I was really excited to read.

Time flew by this time. Although I was reading a graphic novel, I read 40 pages and I was really proud of that.

Once I got that familiar feeling, I put my book on my nightstand for the last time for this experiment.

I felt myself smile when my head slowly went down to my pillow. It was a successful five days and I think I found myself a healthy new habit.

The Takeaway:
Drawing from my experience, reading before bed is 100% better than looking at your phone screen. I had some of the deepest and best sleep of my life. I didn’t wake up drowsy and I felt more energetic in the morning. Not only did it benefit my sleep, but it benefited me in school. I felt like I was learning a lot more and paying more attention to the material being taught in class. Textbooks felt a lot easier to read and I saw an improvement in my writing. Additionally, I felt so much better about myself mentally. I didn’t feel like I was wasting my time by watching random videos and looking at random posts. I felt as if I was occupying my mind in a healthy way and I was very proud of myself for being dedicated during this week.