Last Sunday marked not only the last day of April but also the last night of #readtosleepweek. This was a challenge set by Katy Lowe on the Book Matchmaker and found, by me, through wonderful accident, while watching one of Simon Savidge’s Youtube videos.
I went into this with gusto, I made sure that I turned my laptop off an hour before even going up to bed. Instead, I either watched the television (I am one in a household of four so it was almost inevitably on) or reading. I also made sure to set any necessary alarms so that I wouldn’t need to look at my phone to even do that once upstairs.
In bed, I’d read for between half an hour and an hour and a half; I didn’t look at the time because my phone is my clock.
Choosing books that were engaging and that I knew I would enjoy, I also wanted to keep my choices happy and relatively relaxed. So, staying clear of anything that might rattle the cosy nature of being in bed, I decided on It only happens in the movies by Holly Bourne and Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins (with a brief visit from Joe Lycett in Parsnips, buttered).
I went to bed incredibly tired and knowing that I was going to be woken by a 6:50am alarm the next morning. I struggled to decide what to pick up. I wasn’t really in the mood for reading and, had it not been the start of the Read to sleep challenge, I’d have snuggled down with my phone. That being said, I pulled Anna from the shelf and read 49 pages.
Night two had me feeling far less committed to my phone and I actually put it down around 9pm. Instead, I read for about an hour and a half before heading upstairs. Once in bed, I read another 100 pages swapping my downstairs read, Parsnips, buttered for the far less hilarious, but still wonderful Anna and the French kiss. I read until my eyes closed and whilst I thought I had put the book, bookmark in situ, on my bedside table, I woke the next morning cuddling it.
Forgoing my preferred routine of being in bed by 10:30 at the latest, I, for reasons I have forgotten, didn’t stairlift myself to bed until gone 11:30pm. Annoyed with myself for not only this but having spent a lot more time on my phone, my in bed reading was also somewhat less successful. Having really gotten into Holly Bourne’s newest YA novel: It only happens in the movies I decided to continue upstairs; I read about 30 pages.
Night 3 also marked the start of a somewhat frustrating week of poor sleep. Every now and again I have periods where sleep, regardless of how tired I am, or what I have done that day, refuses to meet me and, when it does, it can be incredibly unsatisfying.
Having been drawn into Anna and the French kiss, I finished it during the day. I had also begun to realise that I didn’t want to ‘waste’ It only happens in the movies by reading it as I was half-asleep and I most definitely didn’t want it to become associated with the frustration I was feeling about bedtime and sleeping. So, I decided to continue with the series and pick up Lola and the boy next door. This is my least favourite book in the series (4 stars instead of 5), this paired with my general anxiety about how well I was going to sleep that night meant that I struggled to feel the relaxing and de-stressing benefits of reading before settling down to sleep. I read for about half an hour and then gave up.
Thursday I almost gave up and reverted back to my old routine. It is hard to say for sure because I was still struggling to sleep but I feel relatively confident in attributing this feeling to the fact that I was on my phone/iPad for most of the evening. Sat on the edge of my bed, I wasn’t even thinking as I spent 10 minutes scrolling, unseeing, through Instagram. When I came to my senses and realised what I was doing, I was incredibly cross with myself; and also very tired. Once more, I wanted to just snuggle down in bed, ideally with my Harry Potter audiobook. However, as that would have involved my phone, I told myself that wasn’t allowed and continued on with Lola instead.
Friday night was much more successful. I still struggled to sleep, but reading before bed was a much more enjoyable experience than it had been for the couple of nights previous, I had become more involved in Lola and the boy next door and the feeling of wanting to use my phone was much less. Reminiscent of the beginning of the week, I read for about 45 minutes until I could feel my eyes becoming heavy and the words – no matter how hard I tried – began swimming, unfocused, on the page.
On Saturday I caved and listened to my audiobook instead of physically reading a book. I did feel really guilty but sometimes you just need Stephen Fry to read you Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I have no idea how much I was awake because, as I had hoped, I was asleep before I could even think of setting a sleep-timer.
The final night of the challenge, even with the mixed success I was sad to see it come to an end but optimistic that I would now be more inclined to put my phone down earlier in the evening. I was in bed by 10:15pm and snuggled down actually looking forward to reading. Having finished Lola and the boy next door just in time to include it in that afternoon’s blog-post, I moved, as seemed logical, onto the finale of the series Isla and the happily ever after. I found this book easier to become engrossed in than its predecessor and read, reasonably comfortably, for about an hour.
I have always wanted to be someone who reads before bed. Occasionally, if the book is right and I can find a comfortable position, I am, for a few days. Then I slip back into relying on my phone. I have tried leaving my phone downstairs but I found that made it harder to sleep as I felt overly worried about the fact that I would have nothing to distract me if – as is usually the case – sleep eluded me for the first hour or two. That being said, it was much easier to set the screen aside in favour of the printed word than I had expected.
I was really hoping that after this week, I would find myself much more amenable to doing this on a regular basis but I just don’t think it’s what works best for me. I felt so incredibly guilty throughout #Readtosleepweek if I even considered checking the time or listening to an audio-book. In reality, these activities probably wouldn’t have made much difference – it takes no longer than a couple of minutes – but I convinced myself that it would undo any relaxation I had achieved. In hindsight, this train of thought probably wasn’t helping me relax in the slightest.
I am definitely open to trying another week where reading is a staple of my bedtime routine, but I’d go into it more open to audio-books as an allowed part of that routine. Basically, I need to learn a to be a little less rigid with the rules.
Did you partake in #Readtosleepweek? Are you someone who reads before bed? What are your experiences? Let me know in the comments below 🙂