Monday, May 17, 2021

Reading past my bedtime

Reading in bed

Let's face it, for us book lovers, we have all done this. We've read that one more chapter, which turns into ten more chapters, and suddenly it is 3am or 5am, or you need to wake up in an hour to get started on your day. This has happened to me more times than I can remember. I used to pull it off in my younger years and still drag myself out of bed to get to class in uni, but alas, those days are behind me.

I try to read everyday. I love reading, but when I get sucked into a book, I can get carried away and lose track of time. I'm sure that has happened to many of us. On top of wanting to read everyday, I also have to balance that with the amount of time I have available to read and needing a good night's rest so I can function the next day. Gone are the days where I can manage on three hours of sleep.

Girl sleeping with puppy

I'm also a creature of habit, and these days I've fallen into a routine for my reading. I usually get done with my day by about 4pm or 5pm. We don't have dinner usually, just a substantial lunch and maybe a snack in the evening, so the rest of the evening is time I get to use however I wish. I usually use it in a combination of reading and watching YouTube videos.

By the time I'm done with the day, and I settle down to relax, I usually watch a couple of YouTube videos to relax. I have some cooking shows I love, a couple of vlogs, and a few makeup videos. Whatever hits my feed for the day. After the videos, I may scroll Facebook for a little bit and catch up on social media. See what my friends are up to and check out a few book groups to see if anything interesting is going on. Once all that is done, I start reading.

These days, I like to read shorter books. Anything that is between a hundred and two hundred pages which I can read in one sitting, assuming it catches and holds my attention. Anything longer will take me two days, and it's rare that I do that because I have commitment issues. Yeah, I know, it's weird. I mean, I just set the book down and pick it up again the next day, but then my brain fixates on the book, and I can't sleep.


So I start reading by about 5pm or 6pm each day, and since I'm old(er) and need a certain amount of sleep and I'm weird and have a strange bedtime routine, I have about two or three hours to read in the evening. I usually like to read till about between 8pm and 9pm. Ideally, I like to stop reading a little into 8pm because then it gives me time to unwind, cuddle with Steve, and try to get to sleep by about 10pm-ish.

The other reason for stopping reading by about 8pm-ish is I have a weird brain. I need to unwind from the book and have it out of my brain long enough that I'm not thinking about, replaying scenes or dialogue which will keep my brain active and, therefore, me awake. It's a whole thing.

Of course, there are times when I read a longer book or I start reading later in the day, and I get so caught up in the book that I read till late. Then suddenly I realise it's 10pm and I need to get to sleep if I have any hope of getting up at a reasonable hour the next day to start my day. I also tend to have this thing where I need a certain number of hours of sleep, and because I work from home, I have to set time I need to wake up, so the later I sleep, the later I wake up. That's all well and good when I don't have any set time I need to be up by, but I hate starting the day too late because then everything gets pushed later into the day, and it's a vicious cycle (one I'm in the middle of right now, BTW).

Woman waking up

I've learned that now, once I get to a certain time in the evening, I need to get to a good breakpoint in the book I'm reading and set it down. I have stopped reading right at the start of a sex scene too. A good place to jump back in for some excitement when I read again next. Then I need to distract myself with some other things, maybe another YouTube cooking video or some time on Facebook. Hopefully, that's enough to get my mind off the book, and I don't fixate on it because fixating on the book and having my mind replay scenes from the book over and over in a loop while I'm trying to fall asleep means I don't sleep.

I want to say that I'm mostly successful with the routine, and most nights I manage to get to sleep, but more often than not, there will be a few nights a week when my brain refuses to shut off after I stop reading or I mess up and get so caught up in the book that I keep reading and lose track of time. That whole "one more chapter" thing. Those not fun nights. My brain goes round and round in endless circles, I fixate on the strangest things, and the next thing I know, it's 2am, and I'm stuffed for the next day.

Sometimes I tell myself as I turn over to go to sleep, "if I don't fall asleep, I'll read." That's kind of a trick I play on my mind to get me to fall asleep with an "out" so that if I don't, I have something to do. It's a whole convoluted thing that works occasionally and often doesn't.

Girl sleeping with clock

My problem is falling asleep. I have a hard time falling asleep if my brain even hints at getting excited about anything, and I can't stop thinking about it, and a good book often does that to me. Or worse, sometimes I finish a book, and I think that I'll wait till the next day to write the review. My brain will fixate on the review and start forming sentences for the review while I'm trying to fall asleep until I give up, get up out of bed, write the review, then go back to bed and hopefully fall asleep. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.

Of course, once I'm asleep, I'm fine. I sleep well and don't get up till my body has decided that it's had enough sleep. I've gone to sleep without any problems, only to wake up at 3am and not be able to get back to sleep. When that happens, I get a whole book read, and it won't even be 6am when I'm done. Other times, I get up at a reasonable time, and I'm delighted because I feel refreshed, I've had enough sleep, and I'm ready to get on with the day. And then there are the dreaded days when I don't wake up till late in the morning, and I'm rushing to get out of bed and get started on things after only one cup of coffee. Man, a girl needs more than one cup of coffee to get going in the morning!!

Reading holding book

All this to say that I love reading "one more chapter," and I wish I could habitually read past my bedtime like I did during my teens, but these days my sleep patterns are temperamental, and I need to be rather sensitive towards how and when I get to sleep. That doesn't mean I don't still occasionally fall for the "one more chapter" trap, but I'm hoping to keep those few and far between.

I'm one of those people whose mind wakes up when I read, so I never fall asleep reading. Steve, on the other hand, can read and fall asleep. I can't tell you the number of times he's dropped his ereader on his face from falling asleep. Who knew books and sleep were such an intertwined thing? Well, for me anyway. It’s a convoluted beast. What about you? Do you have a time when you read and a routine that helps you sleep? If you fall asleep easily every night, I envy you.

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  1. Hi Deanna

    I too have often read a lot longer of a night time than I should but these days once I start to yawn then the book gets put down and it is sleep time and I don't fall asleep while reading. I read more of a daytime than of a night these days but I would never be able to go to sleep without reading for a bit first :)

    Have Fun


    1. I tend to read in the early evening into the night. I find I have other things to do during the day like errands and chores.

  2. I used to read into the small hours, but since retirement it doesn't really matter if I read too late, although I usually stop about 2200 hours. During the day, in usual times and when the pubs are open, I like to sit inside one with refillable coffees for a few hours.

    1. I tend not to read much during the day since I have work to do.