Why does reading make you sleepy? © Getty Images

Why does reading make you sleepy?

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A copy of War and Peace can be the cure for what ails insomniacs.

Asked by: Sachin Shaw, Birmingham


Typically when we’re reading, we do it in a comfortable position – sitting or lying down – in a quiet place, and often at the end of the day or after more energetic activities, all of which contributes to a state of relaxation and sleepiness.

Also, an absorbing text will take your focus away from the outside world and from anxieties that might otherwise keep us alert, such as worries about tomorrow’s exam or dentist appointment.

Alternatively, if you find what you’re reading boring, the effort to keep going can be tiring, in which case you’ll likely begin to daydream, which can also bring sleep closer.

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Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.


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