As a health blogger, one of the questions I get asked most often is “how can I calm myself down before bed?” My go-to answer: read a book! Their next question is usually along the lines of “well what are some relaxing things to read before bed?” So here’s the answer to that burning question! My awesome list of 12 relaxing books to read before bed for the BEST night’s sleep you’ve ever had. From bedtime stories for adults to fantasy books to read before bed, I guarantee there is a book on this list that will put you to sleep faster than melatonin. Give it a try– what do you have to lose (except for insomnia that is!)
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Imagine this scenario. It’s about 30 minutes before your bedtime and your mind is racing in a million different directions. Am I really prepared for that presentation at work tomorrow? Oh no I forgot to iron my shirt! Now I’m going to be standing there in front of everyone in a wrinkly shirt and… UGH I totally forgot to bake brownies for the school bake sale and… Sound familiar? If you’re like most of us, you don’t have to imagine this scenario because you already live through it every night. It’s tough to find ways to calm the mind before bed, but I have a simple solution for you: reading a relaxing book! It’s that easy. According to a 2009 University of Sussex study, just six minutes of reading before bed reduces stress by 68% preparing the body for sleep (read more about it here).
What should I read to relax?
Great question! That’s what this post is for. If you’re looking for relaxing things to read before bed, you’ve come to the right place. 😃 The trick with before bedtime reading is to keep the content light and positive (no Stephen King novels please!) You should also pick books that are interesting without being overly exciting. Books that have a whimsical fairytale feel or transport you to beautiful and serene locations (i.e. gardens) are a plus too! This list takes the guesswork out of choosing that perfect bedtime book by providing you with 12 relaxing books that are fun and interesting, but won’t overstimulate your mind. Guaranteed to help you get your slumber on!
No matter what types of books you’re interested in, there’s a bedtime book on this list for you! Looking for inspirational books to read before bed? I got you (check out #2 and #7!) Want fantasy books to read before bed? I have those too (check out #3 and #6!) No need to count sheep tonight, you’ll be reading yourself into a peaceful night’s sleep and a more healthy tomorrow. Let’s get started!
P.S. I recommend buying your bedtime books in paperback form, so that you can avoid the sleep disrupting blue light of tablets, phones, and e-readers as much as possible. To read more about blue light and how to avoid it before bedtime for a better night’s sleep, check out this post here. Combine the information in that post with one of the books here for a guaranteed deep and refreshing night’s sleep!
1. The Secret Garden by: Frances Hodgson Burnett
One of the world’s most beloved children’s classics is also a great bedtime story for adults! This relaxing book tells the story of Mary, an orphaned child who learns the magic and healing power of a beautiful garden. This is the perfect book to read before bed because it transports you to a wondrous and mysterious place that will continue to relax you in your dreams. An alluring distraction at the end of a long day!
2. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by: the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams
If you’re looking for an inspirational book to read before bed, this is my top recommendation. This incredible book details Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s visit to the Dalai Lama’s home for this 80th birthday where they trade initmate stories and life lessons. This relaxing bedtime read will lull you to sleep on a positive note and inspire you to be a better person when you wake up. The ultimate book on kindness, friendship, and world peace.
3. The Little Prince by:Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This is the ultimate bedtime story for adults. This book reads like a bedtime fairytale, but teaches some important lessons that will help you live your best life when you wake up. It’s equal parts fantasy and inspiration that will engage your imagination. Psychologist Dr. David Lewis said with regard to reading before bed that a book is “more than merely a distraction, but an active engaging of the imagination,” one that “causes you to enter an altered state of consciousness.” The Little Prince is the perfect example of a book that does exactly that. One of the best relaxing books out there!
4. The Undomestic Goddess by: Sophie Kinsella
Who says you can’t read chick lit before bedtime? The trick is finding one that has the perfect balance of romance, humor, and relaxation, so it can put you to sleep. If you’ve read my Book List, you may know I’m a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella books. The problem is that a lot of her books are too exciting to read before bed (I end up staying up until 1 am trying to finish just “one more chapter”). The one exception is The Undomestic Goddess, the story of a workaholic attorney who makes a huge mistake on the job and finds refuge as a housekeeper in the English countryside. The story is engaging but slower paced than many of Kinsella’s other novels making it the best relaxing bedtime book. Plus, it takes place on a beautiful country estate complete with flowers, an orchard, and a hunky gardener you’ll be happy to meet in your dreams… 😍
5. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by: Mitch Albom
Another incredible book that’s both serene and inspirational. This one is about a man named Mitch (the author) who visits his old professor, Morrie, every Tuesday during the last few months of his life. During these visits Mitch learns impactful lessons about life that he shares with the world through this book. It’s a wonderful bedtime read that takes you on a journey through life’s greatest joys and sorrows in a way that will have you drifting off to a peaceful sleep. It’s one of the most interesting and profound things you could read before bed.
6. The Alchemist by: Paulo Coelho
This is a great bedtime book because, similar to The Little Prince (#3 on this list), it reads like a fairytale, but has deep life lessons hidden on every page. On the surface, this is a simple, relaxing story about a shepherd named Santiago who goes on a magical quest. If you go one level deeper, it’s a wisdom-filled story about the universe and folllowing our dreams (a little law of attraction to raise your vibration right before bed 😉). This makes it the perfect bedtime book– you can relax into the story of Santiago before bed and contemplate the power of following your dreams in your sleep.
7. Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy: Inspiring Stories for Making the Most of Each Moment by: Ajahn Brahm
If you like bedtime stories, this is the perfect book for you! This inspiring book is filled with 108 short stories written by a Buddhist monk to help us live our lives from a kinder and more peacful place. Each story is a few pages or less, so it’s a great choice if you looking for something interesting to read before bed that won’t take up too much time. Stories to read before bed for adults– it’s that simple!
8. This Book Will Put You to Sleep by: Professor K. McKoy and Dr. Hardwick
Before bed reading doesn’t always have to be interesting– sometimes boring will put you out like a light. This super effective book will “put you to sleep”, just like the title promises, with a compilation of deliberately snoozy short texts (i.e. A World Almanac of Pine Cones or The History of Gravel) and illustrations (including pages of sheep to literally count). It may sound silly and ridiculous (it’s intended to be), but this stuff WORKS! If interesting things aren’t putting you to sleep, try going the other way with this clever book.
9. How to Relax by: Thich Nhat Hanh
Looking for relaxing things to read before bed? Let’s try an actual book ABOUT relaxation. This pocket-sized mindfulness book complete with illustrations (who doesn’t love a bedtime book with PICTURES?) will not only relax you before bed, it will also teach you to relax in everyday life. A relaxing book filled with relaxation techniques? Mind. Blown.
10. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by: Matthew Walker, PhD
If you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep, why not relax before bed with a book about sleep! This bestselling book written by a neuroscientist explores the mechanisms of sleep and how it effects our well-being. Sometimes understanding WHY we sleep is the first step to sleeping well. You’ll fall asleep easily and wake up refreshed with all the newfound knowledge and insights you’ll gain from this bedtime book.
11. Anne of Green Gables by: L.M. Montgomery
Another children’s classic that’s wonderful bedtime reading for adults. This one takes place on a tranquil farm surrounded by picturesque woodlands, lakes, and valleys. Follow the adventures of Anne into your perfect sun-filled dreamland where you’ll find both the comfort and humor of growing up.
12. Breakfast with Buddha by: Roland Merullo
Otto Ringling, a self-proclaimed skeptic, is not the least bit impressed when his sister talks him into taking a monk on a cross country drive to their childhood home. Otto finds entertainment in showing his guest some “American fun” during their trip, but the real surprise is the lessons he learns along the way. This is a fun and inspirational read to relax with before bed!
So that’s it! Sweet dreams. 😴 If you found this post helpful, you may also like: