Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.53 16 Oct 2020


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Bestselling author Sheila O'Flanagan has spoken about the appeal of bedtime reading - saying it's something that puts you 'in a different place' at the end of the day.

A new study has found that reading a book in bed improved people's sleep.

The study - carried out by the Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) at NUI Galway - was aimed at getting members of the public involved in co-creating their own online randomised trial, to help understanding of the processes.

However, the research team says it reliably found that reading a book before sleep had a "positive effect on quality of sleep compared to not reading a book in bed".

Sheila O'Flanagan told The Hard Shoulder she's not at all surprised by the findings of the research.

She said: "I am a bedtime reader - I've always been a bedtime reader. When I was very small, I used to read under the covers with a torch when I was meant to be asleep.

"I cannot think of any night where I haven't gone to bed and read for a minimum of 20 minutes... but usually more than that before I go to sleep.

"What happens is when you're reading the book it puts your head into a slightly different place, and your mind is in a different place too. You're not thinking quite as much about things that have gone on during the day."

'I sink into fiction'

Sheila said she can read 'almost anything' before going to sleep, although would usually avoid the likes of horror novels.

However, she does usually stick with fiction.

She observed: "I sink into fiction, and lose myself in someone else's problems.

"I rarely read on a device, although I do if I'm travelling - not that any of us are doing much of that at the minute. I prefer print books, and certainly before I go to sleep I would only be reading a print book.

"I also work on my iPad, so I don't feel I would be disconnected from that if I'm reading something on the iPad.

"Reading a book just makes me feel different - it just makes me feel disconnected."

The writer also highlighted how there are now podcasts of people reading books in a way that will send you to sleep.

She said: "I have to say that you do [fall asleep]... I've listened to them once or twice.

"It's the way they read it - they read in a very, very slow way. They don't add in all the inflections that you normally would

"I've tried it with Jane Eyre, which was a book I didn't really enjoy when I was younger... I don't listen to it every night, but it's taken me months to get to around chapter 15 because I nod off."

However, she stressed that her own books are on Audible rather than sleep-friendly podcasts.

Main image: File photo. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

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