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Falling asleep while reading (and how to prevent it)

Falling asleep while reading (and how to prevent it)

These days, our lives are so busy that the only time we get to read a good book is when we finally crawl into bed of an evening.

Ah yes, before we fall asleep and enjoy a well-deserved good night's rest, there is nothing more rewarding than to slip under the covers, grab a book and lose ourselves in a compelling story.

But how often do we find ourselves lying there, reading away, flicking through the pages, when suddenly our eyes start to feel heavy and we find ourselves drifting off to the land of nod?

A lot!

Falling asleep while we read a book happens to all of us and when we least expect it. Sometimes when we're not even in bed.

No sooner have we dove deep into the captivating tale we are reading, and our eyes start to grow heavy, flicker, then close, as we lose our battle to stay awake and gradually drift off.

However, sometimes, when we're not in bed, we can also find ourselves drifting off to sleep but this could be something that we must speak to a doctor about.

But why does this occur?

Why do we fall asleep so very quickly?

Is it because the book we are reading is so boring?

Are we reading in a well lit space?

Are we getting enough sleep?

Or do the stresses of our days eventually catch up with us and force us to sleep.

Well, there are various reasons.

Why does reading make you sleepy?

When we finally settle into bed and pick up a book to read, we do so lying down or sitting in a comfortable position, snuggly wrapped up in our duvets in the cold months, or covered by just a thin sheet when it's warm. We feel settled.

The room is also usually dimly lit and by bedtime there tends to be peace and quiet around the house, where not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse!

All these factors combined help to create an exquisite atmosphere in which we can forget about the madness of the day and slowly sink into a state of relaxation and sleepiness.

But we don't just fall asleep whilst reading in bed. We can snooze when we're in a cafe or on the move. When we are travelling in a car or on a train, we can also feel sleepy when reading because we get so immersed in what we are reading, our minds become distracted and and we forget about what's going on in the world around us which puts our mind at ease.

However, if what we are reading is not interesting, the effort we put in to stick with it can be so tiring that we start to daydream and ultimately drift off.

Is falling asleep while reading a disorder?

Falling asleep reading a book at bedtime is not considered a sleep disorder.

Because we are in a restful position in a dimly room and our minds are not longer distracted by the real world, our brains will naturally relax until we fall asleep reading.

But if you do fall asleep while reading during the day when you least expect it, it is wise to seek medical advice because you have have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, which is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.

If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night's sleep, this could mean you have sleep apnea.

Sleep disorder warning signs

To work out if you might be suffering from a sleep disorder - read through these symptoms.

Does it take you longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep?

Do you feel tired all the time and irritable during the day, even if you have had a good night's sleep?

Do you wake up during the night and find it hard to go back to sleep

Do you take long naps during the day?

Do you have difficulty concentrating at work or school

Do you find yourself falling asleep at inappropriate times, such as when you are watching television or reading a book?

If you are suffering from any of these it is best to seek advice from a doctor.

How to stop falling asleep while reading

Okay, so you have a problem staying awake while reading. Here are some handy ways to ensure that you can stay alert.

Read the text out loud - if you do this you will find it harder to fall asleep because you are concentrating on saying the words.

Wake yourself up with something cold - to say alert, it is a good idea to either splash cold water on your face, have a reuvnating shower or by simply drinking water. In fact a cold drink is the easiest way of staying alert as the more you drink it the more likely you are to stay awake. If a drink packed with caffeinated that will help too. Drinking a lot of fluids means you’ll end up having to go to the bathroom rather a lot, which will also make it much harder to fall asleep.

Don't make yourself too comfortable - when you're relaxed it's easy to fall asleep while reading because we are in a position that lends itself to drifting off. In our cozy state, our brain and body associates being in bed with sleeping. So even if we think our mind is engaged by what we are reading, the coziness and warmth of the bed will lead us to drift off. To avoid getting too comfy, perhaps sit up right in bed - it’ll definitely help you from spontaneously falling asleep.

Go out in public - if you sit in a coffee shop or a park bench you are less likely to fall asleep while reading. Imagine how embarrassing it would be for you to start snoring away in front of a room full of people. That way you are much more likely to focus your attention on reading.

Get a full night's sleep - it is understood that at least eight hours is the required amount of slumber for people to feel properly rested. So to avoid feeling weary the next day, make sure you get a good night's sleep as it will help you function better the next day.

Don’t try to read a book in go - It is very hard for anyone to be able to read an entire book straight through without getting bored or distracted or falling asleep. But don't beat yourself up about it. It's only natural. To keep your mind fresh and alert, take breaks and go and do something else instead, like fetch a drink or a snack from the kitchen. Or perhaps, decide to read the book in portions. Breaking the material into chunks will help prevent you from getting too tired and you'll actually feel like you are getting through the book much faster.

Make sure your environment helps you stay awake - If you are in a quiet, dimly lit room the chances are you will fall asleep while reading easily. To avoid this, make sure the room you are in doesn't make you drowsy. You can do this by keeping the room brightly lit, open the windows to let fresh hair circulate, and maybe play some rousing music that isn't calming.  

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