I Read Before Bed for a Month, and I Feel Way Better

I Read Before Bed for a Month, and I Feel Way Better

I used to be a very habitual reader. I’d read a book a week, give or take, depending on how busy I was. And I was always reading something. Then came podcasts, and then came my boyfriend. I listen to so many podcasts, it’s absurd. But I love learning! And I can listen to podcasts while doing other activities, like walking the dogs, cleaning, and taking baths. The problem is, podcasts are so easy that I’ve started listening to them instead of reading during my downtime. As for my boyfriend, well, he doesn’t read at all, which makes making time to read that much more difficult!

In an effort to quiet my mind, up my attention span, and put. down. my. phone. I’ve challenged myself to spend at least a half hour before bed reading for pleasure every night for a month. This means no reading for school, no reading the news, and no reading my Twitter feed (nothing on a screen!). I began with Prince’s memoir The Beautiful Ones, a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages. I’ve been super excited about this book for months but just haven’t made the time to sit down and read it! I think it’ll hold my attention better than fiction, at the moment, because I’ve been very interested in learning a lot about people who I find interesting. Here’s how it’s gone!

Week 1

I’m coming into my new bedtime reading routine pretty excited! The first few nights are great; The Beautiful Ones is an amazing memoir, and I’m really into it. I had a hard time putting the phone down on nights 4 and 5 (online shopping is a real habit!). I got back on track on the last two days of the week.

Week 1 Takeaways

I need to put my phone away a half hour before I start reading in order to give my brain some time to chill out. I also decide to put my phone on Do Not Disturb mode when I start reading. In terms of actual reading: I’ve become such a slow reader, but I’m out of practice so it’s understandable! I keep looking up every few pages expecting something to be happening, and I often really want to reach for my phone.

Week 2

I’m really into my book, but I’m still reading slowly and for 30-45 minutes every night. Overall, I’m not as interested in taking so many breaks to see what’s going on around me, but I’m still finding it hard to focus! I finish The Beautiful Ones on the last day of week 2, which is super exciting! I ended up reading for two hours because I wanted to finish it.

Week 2 Takeaways

Keeping my phone on Do Not Disturb mode and in another room is really working! I’m having a problem with letting anxious thoughts about things that need to get done creep into my mind. When this happens, I get distracted and then end up having to reread a few pages. I’m trying to acknowledge when this happens, find a stopping point, and take a few meditative breaths.

Week 3

Giving myself a challenge by majorly switching gears. I’ve decided to read The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington, which is about as different from The Beautiful Ones as a book could be. Carrington wrote between the late 30s and the late 80s, so her writing style is very interesting, and some of the stories (the older ones) are hard to get into. Since the stories are fiction, I’m finding myself more distracted. I’m not sure why! But I feel like I’ve lost momentum, even though I really like what I’m reading.

Week 3 Takeaways

My experiences with different books are going to be, well, different. I have to be even more diligent about not letting my thoughts wander, because this writing is a bit more demanding of the reader than the last book. In terms of my task at hand (reading nightly for 30 minutes), I’ve actually upped it to an hour most nights!! I find I start really getting into things after about 20 minutes, so it only makes sense to read for longer… it’s like running.

I’ve also found myself falling asleep a lot easier after reading for 45 minutes or so, which is a huge, huge plus.

Week 4

I’ve found myself reaching for my book more often than the TV remote this week! I’m getting used to reading again, which I didn’t expect to in only a month. I actually finished The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington on day two of this week, so I started Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.

I still find myself getting distracted and wanting to check my phone every few pages, but I think my phone addiction is a separate problem that I’ll have to tackle!

Week 4 Takeaways

It feels… really good to have read over two books in a month. Reading has gone from a task that I complete in a half hour to something I want to do, which is the way it used to be. I’m really excited to be tapping back into this part of myself. I feel a lot more satisfied with how I’ve been spending my downtime, and I feel a lot better mentally. I think the act of mindfully doing something rather than staring at the TV or my phone is improving my mood and my sleep, which is cool.

Final thoughts

Overall, I feel a whole lot better. I’m happy to be spending my free time doing something productive for my mind, and I’m also excited to get back into an old hobby that was once really important to me.

Are you trying to get back into something you used to love? Leave us a comment below and tell us how it’s going!

Featured image: @sheinthemaking