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Stop Falling Asleep While Reading

Updated on April 27, 2016

Reading a Book


Become a Better Reader

Falling asleep while reading is a huge problem.

It means one can't enjoy many of the great books out there, can not voyage into imaginary worlds and travel the cosmos, will be restricted in learning, will be limited in life.

Reading is a priority in many jobs. It is one of the most important parts of education. And reading makes life more interesting and fun.

We all know reading is one of the most important things someone can do, but what if we can't stay awake to finish that book? Or even stay awake long enough to get interested in it? I've got some tips to help you.

That is, if you can stay awake to read this article. If you have any doubts about staying awake, you might want to bookmark this page so you can come back when you wake up ;-)

Getting Sleep

Beauty Rest by littledan77
Beauty Rest by littledan77

Get Enough Sleep

Most people do not get enough rest.

It seems pretty obvious that if you don't get enough sleep your body will be tired and want to rest, leaving you more likely to fall asleep while reading that book. Bodies need sleep to function correctly.

Good quality sleep is also important, since an exhausted body has a harder time staying aware and awake.

Make sure to get enough, good quality sleep for your body. Don't worry about how much sleep other people need, every body's needs are different so you may need more or less.

Thinking About Reading

Thinking About Reading by Scarleth White
Thinking About Reading by Scarleth White

Train that Brain

Your brain is in charge of your body, you need to teach or train your brain to stay awake while reading.

Your brain needs to know that reading time is not sleeping time, that it is time to stay awake and aware, and to pay close attention to what you are doing since it is important.

Each time you go to sleep while reading you are reinforcing to your brain that reading equals sleep, instead you need to emphasize to your brain that it's important to stay awake.

You can do this by never letting yourself fall to sleep while reading. Put the book down and do something else for a little bit if you find yourself dozing.

Force yourself to pay close attention to each word, be aware of what you are reading. Treat reading as an activity, and not a passive one. Make sure your eyes are moving along each word as you read and your brain will know it is doing something.

Never Fall Asleep While Reading

Fell Asleep While Reading by tomeppy
Fell Asleep While Reading by tomeppy

Don't Fall to Sleep While Reading

Never ever let yourself fall asleep while reading.

Each time you fall to sleep while reading you will reinforce your brain's idea that reading time is time to go to sleep. This is part of the reason it's such a bad idea to read right before bed or in bed.

I know, you're thinking that falling to sleep while reading is the reason you are reading this article, but I'm talking about breaking the cycle if you can.

If you feel yourself nodding over your book stop immediately and wake your body up. Drink coffee, do jumping jacks, or take a cold shower, whatever it takes to get your body awake and energized.

After a while your brain will stop sending your body the shut-down message each time you read.

About to Doze Off

Relaxing and Reading by Let Ideas Compete
Relaxing and Reading by Let Ideas Compete

Prevent Yourself from Sleeping

It's nearly impossible to fall asleep while sitting up straight, but it is very easy to fall asleep in a place where your body is used to going to sleep. So don't read while lying down in bed or on the sofa.

Send the right signals to your body by sitting up at your desk or at the kitchen table, preferably on a chair without a back so your body has to stay awake. Read while sitting on one of those balance balls. You could even stand up and read.

The more uncomfortable you are the more likely you will stay awake. Don't worry, you don't have to read while uncomfortable for forever, just until you reset your brain's sleeping triggers.

Boring Books Cause Sleepiness

Reading a Boring Book by basykes
Reading a Boring Book by basykes

Read Interesting Books

Being bored and not interested in something will also trigger your body to go to sleep, but reading something trilling and fascinating will engage your brain and make it difficult to drift off.

Be aware of what you are reading, and at least until you get over the falling-to-sleep habit, read books that you like and that will occupy your brain. Scary books will get your heart rate up. Romance novels will capture your whimsy. Dramas will engage your soul. If you are interested in what you are reading, you will be less likely to allow yourself to fall to sleep.

This isn't an excuse to just read fun books though. If you do have to read books that are not so interesting, make them interesting to you. Think about what you are reading. Imagine what would happen if something else had happened. Play with the words and sentences in your mind. Your mind should be doing mental gymnastics while reading. Don't allow your eyes to just skim the pages, pay attention to each word and think about what you are reading and what may happen next.

Be active because reading is an active art.

Don't Read at Midnight

Reading at Midnight by Rexbron!
Reading at Midnight by Rexbron!

Read at Certain Times of Day

Reading at certain times of the day will also help override your body's inclination to sleep.

There are some times of day that we are more awake, and there are some times of day that we are more inclined to fall to sleep. Read when you are the most awake.

For each person this will be different, but for many people about 10 in the morning is when they are most aware and the least sleepy. You could even get up a half an hour early and go for a run, then sit down for a few minutes of reading while you have your coffee. Your body should be awake and stimulated.

Figure out what times are best for you, and read then. Avoid reading at times you know you are tired and sleepy and ready for bed since each time you fall to sleep while reading or right after reading you are reinforcing the habit you are trying to break.

Reading Together

Reading Aloud by Betsssssy
Reading Aloud by Betsssssy

Read Out Loud

Reading silently to yourself triggers brain activity in one section, but reading aloud triggers a different section of the brain.

Read aloud to yourself.

Read aloud to someone else.

Read aloud to your pets.

You can even read aloud to yourself in the mirror.

Some schools are now having students go to the animal shelter and read to the animals. This helps give the children confidence and helps the animals get attention.

Some people actually even learn better when they read aloud to themselves, these are usually called audible learners.

The more brain activity you can trigger while reading, the less likely you will be to fall to sleep.

Soon You Can Enjoy Reading

A Happy Reader by The U.S. Army
A Happy Reader by The U.S. Army

It's Not For Forever

These steps to staying awake may seem like a lot of work, but just keep reminding yourself that it's not for forever.

Once you have reset your brain and overcome your bad habits, you can start reading while lying down again, you can be comfortable while you read again.

You must overcome the habits before you start though, or else all the efforts you have gone to will be for naught.

Read following these steps for at least a few weeks, then see how you feel. If you still feel sleepy while reading you will need to keep trying, but if you are awake and aware even through boring books you can safely start loosening up. Just be cautious, if you do start feeling sleepy while reading once again, go back to follow these suggestions.

Find out what it takes for you stay awake while reading, and overcome the bad habit of falling to sleep each time you have a book in your hands.

Stay Awake While Reading

Stay Awake Do's
Reading Don'ts
Get Enough Sleep
Don't Fall to Sleep While Reading
Train Your Brain
Don't Let Your Eyes Glaze
Be An Active Reader
Don't Read Just Before Bed
Move Your Eyes
Don't Read When You Know You're Likely to Fall to Sleep
Sit Up or Stand
Don't Read in Bed
Read Interesting Books
Don't Be Passive
Read During the Day
Don't Let Yourself Fall to Sleep

© 2010 Alisha Vargas

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      This was super helpful.

      Thanks a lot.

      From Bronx, New York

    • profile image

      Tom Mortensen 

      3 years ago

      I have discovered a simple method of defeating the tendency

      to fall asleep when reading. Make a headband out of elastic

      stretch material used for knee stability. Dip it in cold water

      and place around you forehead. The shock of cold water will quickly dissipate from the head-heat and the impact keep you alert and wakeful. Hope this is helpful.....Tom

    • profile image


      3 years ago


    • profile image


      3 years ago

      when I read even in the class room i can't control

      my sleep

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I must have a hundred books that I have stop and started because of falling asleep. I see a book I want to read badly, buy it, get into the first 20 pages and wake up the next morning lying on the book in my clothes.

      I have addressed the issue with my medical doctor and my eye doctor, results found out they have a similar issue.

      I bought a stand-up desk and now I read from it. Over the past six weeks, I am now reading for a longer period of time without getting sleepy. Also, I changed my exercise routine from evening to morning...this result has boosted my energy level in the morning and helped sustain it through early afternoon. Exercising after work was causing my body to relax and ready to shut down for the day.

      As you commented breaking habits that cause you to get sleepy while reading is the key. I no longer try to force myself to stay awake when I begin to feel the wave coming I immediately stand up.

      I have now have read 7 of 100 books with a goal to finish all by year end . I have also sworn off buying another book until I get the 100 read.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      This is the most interesting tips about reading without dozing off. Thanks for the write up.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks but I actually always situp straight when reading I have tried to read at different times of the day. I just tried to red a book which I found very interesting but keep falling asleep like a narcoleptic. I haven't tried reading out loud so will give that a go.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great tips!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I liked this lens thanks

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @anonymous: I so agree(I had to 'wake-up' 3 times to read this post) I tried the rapid eye movement and feel more awake. I really would love to finish my book in less than a month..

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 

      7 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      I have had problem with staying awake while reading for the exams. The solution was simple. Reading only in chair, never in bed and when crisis came taking a short active break. Thanks for your tips!

    • NibsyNell profile image


      7 years ago

      Great tips! I hate it when this happens lol.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image


      7 years ago from New Jersey

      good tips

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You have some really cute photos!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i like this tips. but i expect still more tips.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am a very busy business woman and work full time. For years, once I sit down during the day to rest or take a break, I find myself nodding off way too soon. Actually, within 10 minutes or less. I attribute this to some of the training mentioned on this site and another. Allowing myself to drift off to sleep has been a natural body response as I usually do so at the end of the day when exhausted. I have noticed my heart rate slows way down as soon as I sit and my breathing becomes very shallow. My body instantly goes into sleep mode, as that is the same body reaction i have when I go to bed each night. I believe it is quite a natural rhythm prior to sleep. Therefore, reading is somewhat impossible after the 5-10 minutes is reached. I am working on training myself to change my breathing patterns as I sit, take deep breaths regularly and to sit up. This helps a bit. What I am deciding to add to all this is to realize too that my eyes are still when i read. Otherwise, they are experiencing rapid movement all day with lots of stimulii and that , I believe , keeps me from nodding. So, my new technique is going to be to exercise my eyes by looking away and letting them move quickly for a minute. During this time, I will practice some deep breathing also. Surely, the body can benefit from naps occasionally, and I do take them when i can. People say they envy me for being able to sleep any time during the day. It if great if that is what one wants, but I must train my mind and body to remain "active" while I am sitting still reading. I have a long list of books I hope to enjoy and am 'TIRED' of getting tired too soon.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm going to put your advice to good use.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i love it

    • wyrm11268 profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice lens - thank you. I love to read and never fall asleep during the day but I read every night until I fall asleep!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I read the whole article, and I didn't fall asleep. I thank you! I am gonna follow your suggestion to improve my reading abilities. I do not want to fall asleep while reading...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice tips, sounds so worth trying out! Thanks

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image


      8 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      also added this one to my reading lens under featured

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I actually fall asleep sitting up in school and while doing homework or even reading on my phone or with a book. whenever i have to concentrate i pass out i don't even realize it until i'm waking up...and then passing out again without being able to control it.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      8 years ago from Canada

      What a wonderful lens to stumble upon. Beautifully worded.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love it. Nice tips. Reading is very important. Knowledge is power.

    • kohuether lm profile image

      kohuether lm 

      10 years ago

      This happens to me all the time! Good tips... I actually had to stop reading before bed... now I do most of it during the day. Now I fall asleep in front of the TV. Haha.


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