What time is best for reading?

When is the Best Time to Read?

We are all busy. It’s a fact of life in this day in age. Juggling school, work, family, and friends can be a struggle. So, when are you supposed to fit leisurely activities like reading into that hectic schedule? Reading is fundamental. It expands our imagination, helps us learn, can bring joy to our hearts, and helps improve our memory.

So when is the best time to read? The answer is typically unique to each individual but some common rules of thumb are the following:

Best Time of Day To Read

Type of ReadingBest Time of Day
To Read
Reason Why
Non-Fiction10 a.m. – 12 p.m.Mornings are the
time our brains tend
to be their sharpest.
(This can vary by
Academic2 p.m. – 6 p.m.Best time for
memory retention
FictionRight Before BedFiction helps to calm
the mind and takes
you away from your
day-to-day life

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Why It’s Better to Read Non-Fiction Books in the Morning.

Researchers say that that the reason adults are better off reading non-fiction in the morning is that your body wants and needs to wake up and be stimulated.

According to experts, reading in the morning has many benefits like:

  • stress reduction
  • increased creativity
  • improved communication skills
  • disease prevention
  • improved focus and memory
  • enhanced intelligence.

The reason why reading non-fiction is best to do in the morning is your brain is at it’s most alert typically in the morning (although your mileage may vary if you are a night owl).

According to a recent study, six minutes of sustained reading each day can reduce a person’s stress level by 68 percent (Source)! Only six minutes! Imagine how much less stressed you would be if you start your day with just six minutes of reading.

Reading can prevent diseases by letting people know how to avoid them before you get them and, if you have them, how to manage them. If you suffer from anxiety, you can easily read up on ways to help calm that burden. Reading is also great for exercising your mind and keeping your brain in tip-top shape.

Reading can also help improve your communication skills. Doing this in the morning allows you to prepare yourself for any communication you will be taking part in that day, whether at work, school, or just with family and friends.

Woman reading Photo by Roman Carey

Reading boosts intelligence. We all learned this in school. Books contain new knowledge and words that teach us something new every time we read them. The more you read, the more knowledge you will have, and therefore the more intelligent you will be. Opening a world of new understanding for yourself is so beneficial.

Focus and memory are essential parts of everyday life. Reading improves your brain connectivity and creates new memories. If you want to absorb and comprehend what you are reading, you need to focus. Being fully immersed in a book will give you better focus skills and more memories. Consistent reading habits will improve your attention span. These good habits will carry over to other aspects of your life as well, which makes it incredibly beneficial.

Why it is Best to Read Fiction at Night

For some people, reading before bed helps them fall asleep. If you want to read to help you fall asleep, then this is a great tactic.

Reading a book is better than looking at your phone and catching up on your Twitter feed. The bright lights of a phone will keep you up and distract your brain, so reading an old-fashioned book is a better choice, especially if you have insomnia.

Using your phone before going to bed keeps your brain psychologically engaged, delays REM sleep, and the blue light from the screen suppresses melatonin, which helps you sleep. So, trade in that blue light for a book light instead.

Reading at night can also help you read more books because we tend to have more time at night. Rather than spending time on your phone, spend it reading mystery or romance on paper or Kindle.

Overall, if you have trouble falling asleep at night or finding a nighttime routine that works for you, try reading a book. Reading fiction at night can help you escape your day-to-day life and relax your mind as you prepare yourself for sleep. Plus, it’s better than staring at your iPhone screen until 3 a.m.

Studies May Not Match Up With How You Function

Now, remember, just because a study claims something to be true does not mean it will apply to you. I do read best in the morning. If I read at night, I am sure to doze off and not retain anything I just read, but it does help me fall asleep. You may be the opposite, though. It can depend on your personality, as well. Maybe you’re a night owl who works better at night. We all have different schedules that can vary our best time to read personally. In the end, it’s all about trying out reading at different times and seeing what works best for you. Perhaps your best time to read is on the bus on the way to work or on your lunch break in-between classes.

Sure, we’d all love to wake up at 8 a.m. refreshed with a cup of coffee and the whole morning to read, but that’s not plausible for most of us. Reading at night is better than not reading at all. Again, even just six minutes of reading can make a huge difference for you and your brain.

How Do I Make Time for Reading When I’m Busy?

Knowing when to read is just part of the puzzle. Finding the time to read in our busy schedules is another. 

One way to do this is to find an array of books you want to read. I have a stack of books on sports either written by athletes or books about athletes, teams, and sports history. Having books on topics you want to read will encourage you to find the time. For me, if I had a stack of romance novels on my bedside table, they would be collecting a lot of dust. Just because everyone else is reading “Girl Wash Your Face” doesn’t mean you have to too. Just because a book is a New York Times Bestseller doesn’t mean you will enjoy it. Read what interests you and only you!

You can also try reading more than one book at a time. This technique will keep you interested and give you some variety. Although I don’t like doing this, many others do.

Set a goal for yourself. I love doing this. Tell yourself, “In this reading session, I am going to stop when I get to Chapter 25.” This goal will help you to feel accomplished, plus you will know exactly how many pages you have left to read until you have finished the chapter. Add a few more pages or another chapter each reading session, so you can slowly but surely finish more books than you did before.

Join others who are reading the same books as you. Discussing content and engaging in its material with others can help you learn even more from the book. Look for a book group online or friends and family to discuss it with. Book clubs are still a thing for a reason!

Use GoodReads or make a list on your phone of all the books you have read so far this year. This list will help you keep an overview of the books you are currently reading, and your progress in them. It will help you focus on your reading too. You can also keep track of the books that you would like to read later on and add reviews of the books you have read (Source). Many of these websites also make recommendations based on the books you’ve read and liked. You should always know what book you are going to read next. This will help give you the incentive to finish the one you are currently reading so you can start the next intriguing book on your to-read list.

Stop doing mindless, pointless activities like reading clickbait. We all have a poison that eats up our time on our phone. I know mine is scrolling Twitter. Once you take that mindless activity out of your time, you will be able to read more. It’s time much better spent, trust me.

If you are so busy that you never have time to read a book, try an audiobook. You can listen to audiobooks in the car, while working out, at the office, while cleaning the house, while cooking dinner, literally anywhere anytime. Listening to audiobooks allows you to “read” while multitasking so you can still learn the content of books you want to read.

Make sure to always have a book with you wherever you go. While waiting at the doctor’s office, you may be tempted to pull out your smartphone and check up on Instagram, but this is prime free reading time! You never know when you will have time to read a chapter… those lunch lines at Chipotle can get pretty long, you know.

Why is Reading Important?

You may be thinking, “You know how I can avoid all of this? By not reading at all.” This idea is a valid point but super detrimental to your health and intelligence.

woman reading Photo by Min An

Being able to read competently is a core skill you must have. You can’t even take medicine or drive without knowing how to read. These day-to-day activities are keys to life, which means reading is key. Practicing reading every day will help expand your knowledge and help you learn more as you go.

Reading develops the mind. Your mind is a muscle, and you should be exercising it every day to keep it strong (Source). This is why senior citizens love their crosswords and word searches, and you should too. Reading helps us discover new things about other people, places, and practices. There is so much information out there for us to learn, and reading gives us the advantage of being able to learn so much of it.

Like I mentioned before, reading is simply fundamental. You are reading this right now. Literacy helps you live an easier, more knowledgeable life. Everything we do is built around words. Speaking and reading are so important in all walks of life.

In Conclusion

Many experts claim that reading in the morning is the best time to read. We are the most alert and focused in the morning, which helps us to retain new information better.

If you do have trouble falling asleep at night, reading could be of help to you. Make sure if you do so, it is a physical paper book or Kindle, not an iPad or mobile phone. These pieces of tech could keep you up too late and leave you less energized in the morning. If you are on your smartphone most of the night looking on social media, try out a good book instead. It’s better for your mind and melatonin.

Experts can provide their study results all they want, but what works best for you is what works best for you. You don’t have to be like everyone else. I read best in the morning, but you may read best in the afternoon after lunch, or right before bed. You should try all different times and methods to find your perfect reading routine.

You don’t need to follow the crowd. For example, I have never read one Harry Potter book in my life (or seen any of the movies). I get reamed for that every time I say that, which is valid, I guess. But, it’s not my cup of tea, I’d rather read suspenseful books. What I’m trying to say here is read what interests YOU, not everyone else. This will keep you more engaged and on the path to actually finish the book you are reading. If Harry Potter does interest you, heck read all the books for the seventh time, go for it!

man reading Photo by Zun Zun

At the end of the day, the best time to read is whenever works best for you. Experts say that is in the morning when you wake up unless you need help falling asleep. Make sure to read for at least six minutes a day, considering it can expand your mind and reduce stress by up to 68%. There is a reason that we are taught to read from such a young age. We need it to function and learn in today’s world. The more reading you do, the more knowledge you will have, and the more prepared for the world you will be. Reading can improve so many parts of your life, so next time you are scrolling Twitter learning about Starbucks’ new Irish Cream Cold Brew (which is delicious by the way), put down the phone and pick up a good book. You never know what you will learn from the next book you read.

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” —Garrison Keillor

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