Last month we all lost an hour of sleep. If you’re like me, ever since daylight saving time started you’ve been heading to bed at what feels like a ridiculously early time, not drowsy in the least.
I try to think of this not as less time for sleeping, but as more time for reading.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about reading in bed, and it’s clear from your many responses that you all have strong opinions about this, too — what to read, where to read.
“I read in bed every night,” writes Carol Britt of Eden Prairie. “I am currently reading ‘This Tender Land’ [by William Kent Krueger]. Reading at night is my way of calming myself down and preparing for a good night’s sleep.”
Another reader (who asked not to be named) likes soothing books at night — “I’ll read ‘The Wind in the Willows,’ Beatrix Potter, Maud Hart Lovelace, Alexander McCall Smith and the Bible,” she wrote. “Our previous golden retriever would jump on the bed as soon as I started reading, and when he fell over asleep, I would usually do the same.”
At the moment, Howie Smith of Minneapolis is rereading another soothing book — William Least Heat-Moon’s “Blue Highways.”
“It’s taking me forever, which is perfectly fine,” he writes. “His meandering journey is a perfect tonic to fall asleep to. I can only hope every night my dreams pick up where he leaves off and I journey around the back roads of America.”
But Rita Berens of Mendota Heights cautioned that reading in bed can be detrimental to a good night’s sleep. She went through a sleep study some years ago, which, she said, reset her sleep clock successfully.
“One of their many recommendations was the use of the bed. It was a strict rule: The bed is used only for sleep or sex. To use it otherwise (watching TV, eating, reading), is telling your brain that it can be stimulated and energized in multiple ways here. It sends the wrong message to your body.”
Reader Mary Knatterud of St. Paul understands that, but is “loath to climb out from under a cozy duvet in order to follow the standard advice to insomniacs to go read elsewhere till drowsy.”
So what she does instead, “with both eyes still closed, is to drift back to sleep by silently ‘reading’ to myself something compelling that I’ve memorized.
“To vary my repertoire, I (re)learn by heart, by day, a rotating corpus, e.g., poems, lists, lyrics, passages from plays and books. Favorites lately have included Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming,’ the names of the U.S. presidents in order, words to hymns and soft rock hits, and — an oldie but goodie from Miss Lydia Buslee’s high school English class — Macbeth’s ‘Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.’ ”
Kathleen Vashro of Corcoran also likes to read herself to sleep. “Most of my reading is done in bed, curled up with the dogs,” she writes. “It’s my oasis at the end of the day. Sometimes I don’t get beyond reaching for the book and finding where I left off.”
Elaine K. Murray of Minneapolis finds books by the bedside to be “a godsend for those of us who are awake at 3 a.m., tormented by the demons in the dark corners of the mind or frightened by horrid nightmares. A little paperback you can prop on your pillow is the thing; some escapist reading. I like a vintage mystery for the purpose.”
Meanwhile, Julie Fermenick of Woodbury tries to read in bed but doesn’t always succeed. “I’m with Andy Rooney: ‘I never put a book down; it always falls down,’ ” she says. “I can’t read more than a few minutes without falling asleep. I rewake in a few minutes and end up reading the same passages over and over again.”
That sounds like a success to me.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune’s senior editor for books. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks.