The secret to a good night’s sleep? Routine reading - research finds

Reading is the most popular bedtime ritual, research found (photo: Adobe)
Reading is the most popular bedtime ritual, research found (photo: Adobe)

Reading is the most effective activity to do before bed to aid 7+ hours of sleep, new study finds.

With a large chunk of the British population suffering from poor sleep, many of us are left feeling perpetually tired.

And hunting the elusive holy grail of being well rested can feel like a wild-goose chase.

A fifth of Brits get under five hours of sleep a night, with almost seven in 10 admitting to struggling to get to sleep on a daily basis, according to one study.

The research by GetLaidBeds.co.uk found that reading is the most popular and the most effective bedtime ritual, followed by turning off technology.

And the latter is twice as effective as drinking a cup of tea.

The study also found that almost nine in 10 people who work from their bedroom admit to struggling to get to sleep at night, compared to a tenth who say they work outside their bedroom.

“I’m not surprised by this stat," said sleep expert, Katherine Hall.  "Keeping work out of your bedroom will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and a good night’s sleep.

"If you work from your bedroom, even on a separate desk away from your bed, your mind will still associate that space with work, making your mind run through all of your work stress while you’re trying to relax.”

Taking a walk before bed is 7 times less effective for sleep compared to reading

The survey of 2,010 people also showed that taking a walk before bed is the activity (on a par with journaling), that aids sleep the least, and is seven times less effective than reading.

Further results found that turning off all tech items before trying to sleep was twice as effective as drinking a cup of tea before bed for those who got an average of more than seven hours of sleep a night.

Interestingly, setting out the next day's outfit was found to be three times more effective as a sleep ritual than meditation, with only 37 percent of Brits who meditate before bed getting more than seven hours of sleep.

“This research has uncovered some fascinating data, not least the gulf in efficiency between certain sleep routines that many people believe to be helping them get the sleep they need," said Katherine.

"The most common theme we can see from these results is that establishing a good sleep routine revolves around not overstimulating the brain.

"Whether that’s removing menial tasks from the next day to avoid overthinking in bed or relaxing the muscles through hot water therapy rather than working them through exercise.

"Identifying sleep rituals will be a case of trial and error for many of us. What is evident, however, is that some habits we adopt can be significantly more effective than others if practised correctly.”

The UK's most effective bedtime rituals

1 Reading

2 Turning off technology

3 Praying

4 Taking a hot shower or bath

5 Setting out your clothes for tomorrow

6 Making tomorrow's to-do list

7 Meditating

8 Making a cup of tea

9 Stretching

10 Taking a long walk

11 Journaling

The UK's most popular bedtime rituals

(percentages are based on survey responses)

1 Reading  40%

2 Turn off technology  33%

3 Set out your clothes for tomorrow  20%

4 Take a hot shower or soak in the bath  20%

5 Cup of tea  20%

6 Make tomorrow's to-do list  14%

7 Prayer  13%

8 Meditate  11%

9 Stretch  10%

10 A long walk  7%

11 Journaling  7%