So when the pandemic hit last year, my reading time actually took a nosedive: I was no longer commuting or traveling, so when would I have time to crack open a book? But with a ton of newfound time on my hands, I felt like I finally had time to read more consistently. Around April last year, I decided to create a new nighttime routine. With a ton of unread books sitting in my Kindle, I set out to read an hour before bed every day getting into a bit of a routine. 

There were times when I was reading something heavy, or I already felt very tired and wanted nothing more than to not read that night. In the latter case, I went to bed early without guilt, otherwise I would  promise myself I just needed to read one chapter to keep my commitment. More often than not, one chapter turned into another and I could read for the hour I allotted before bed. (If I really couldn’t get into a book after a few chapters, I would give myself permission to move onto something else.) 

As someone working in the news, I never felt able to “turn off” updates about the unfolding coronavirus pandemic last year. As a result, I felt like I couldn’t escape the minute-by-minute updates that were, for many people, the case of life and death — but also an overload of understandably stressful information.

Aside from falling asleep sooner than I had previously, reading has also helped me to actually sleep through the night. Occasionally, but especially during the pandemic, I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night and unable to fall back to sleep — and often playing around on my phone and further disrupting my sleep.

While reading can help someone avoid blue light, Dr. Avidan says it may be counterproductive to read on an e-reader or tablet with bright light late at night. Some devices, like Kindles, use dull light and e-ink, while others have night mode to help limit your blue light dose. And when all else fails, there’s always a good, old-fashioned ink-and-paper book.

Plenty of famous writers call themselves readers first, and with good reason: Not only are you exposing yourself to different styles of writing that you can incorporate as you read, but you’re subconsciously thinking about good sentence structure and prose. Even if you’re not planning on writing a novel any time soon, you can learn from the descriptiveness of fiction to incorporate into your own writing, whether that’s an article or even a work email.

Becoming a stronger writer is probably the biggest reason why I am encouraged to keep up my new bedtime routine. I’ve noticed I’ve been more thoughtful about my phrasing and have expanded my word choice as I read. Additionally, I’m more aware of how I can improve sentence structure and make things more clear for the person reading my own work.

With more time devoted to reading and, therefore, more books read, I opted to expand my taste. I read science fiction like “The Martian” by Andy Weir; young adult novels like “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas; horror like “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; romantic comedies like “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston; historical fiction like “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah; and memoirs like “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson.

I’ve learned I like to read anything and everything. Reading books of different genres broadens your perspective, which is also why I’ve tried to diversify the authors I read. Also, different moods call for different genres, so it’s important to think about how you’re feeling before diving into a new genre. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s probably not a good idea to read any heavy historical fiction. I also like alternating between fiction and nonfiction, so my mind stays sharp and you can soak in what you’ve learned from nonfiction before diving into another one. And after taking a break, I no longer guess the endings of thrillers — most of the time, at least.

For optimal sleep help, Dr. Avidan says you need to have both sufficient sleep and regular sleep. That includes going to bed and waking up at the same time — yes, even on the weekends. Deviating too far from the routine can impact your circadian rhythm, which may throw off your ability to sleep in the long run.

This content was originally published here.