Isabela asks:

How do I keep from falling asleep while reading? I never fall asleep with my face in a book, but spending hours without moving much always makes me feel like napping. It’s very hard to battle against it and it eventually makes me unable to keep reading because my mind feels too groggy.

Mallory: Isabela, this is a common problem! Reading is relaxing to most people and when you’re relaxed, it is easy to get sleepy. Before I tell you to go drink a bucket of coffee, which might make you vibrate into another dimension where sleep doesn’t exist, my suggestion is to rearrange your reading habits. If you usually read before bed, or in bed, change it up! Try setting aside some time in the morning to read, or find a spot to read that isn’t as squishy and comfortable as your bed. (I’m assuming you don’t sleep on a bed of nails or anything.) Read while sitting at your kitchen table, or stretched out on a rug, or try reading at the library or in a park or coffee shop! Listening to an audiobook while taking a walk is a guaranteed way to get some book time in without falling asleep.

Brea: I am the champion of waking up with my face on a book and getting embarrassed by how much I drool in my sleep. Does this happen with aging? I do feel like the best pillow I ever owned was probably a book in grad school. Of course, my number one suggestion here is snacking. In grad school, I learned the joy of garlic-stuffed olives and crispy apples. Healthy snacks and a nice cup of cold tea always help me stay awake while reading.

Mallory: Definitely listen to the Queen of Snacks, a.k.a. Brea here. If you’re settling in for an extended reading session, get prepared! Grab a bottle of tea and some healthy snacks. Not just because they are healthy, but because they will be less greasy and liable to get stains on your book or e-reader. Don’t forget a napkin! No one wants Dorito dust on their end pages. Having a bottle of tea or water will motivate you to stand up every so often and refill it, forcing you to walk around a little bit and get your blood flowing.

Brea: My mom used to eat Red Hots to stay awake on long drives and maybe this works here as well. Go stinky, spicy, or sweet. Snacks aside, I also think you can embrace this. > I feel like we have an epidemic of bad sleep habits happening with our go-go-go world and maybe you wanting to sleep is your body telling you to actually sleep. Use a book to read for a while at night and embrace the head-lolling, eyes-closing relaxing time as a hint that it’s time for you to snooze!


Mallory O’Meara is an author, screenwriter, and producer for Dark Dunes Productions. Along with freelance writing and film projects, her latest production is the Dark Dunes Productions feature film Yamasong: March of the Hollows, release details TBA. She lives in Los Angeles. Mallory hosts the podcast Reading Glasses alongside filmmaker and actress Brea Grant. The weekly show is hosted by Maximum Fun and focuses on book culture and reader life. Her first book, The Lady from the Black Lagoon, is being published by Hanover Square Press, release date TBA.

Brea Grant is an e-reader who moonlights as an actress and filmmaker (most recently she can be seen on the television show The Arrangement and in movies like A Ghost Story and Dead Awake) and daylights as a podcast co-host on the show Reading Glasses. She writes comic books, reads scifi, and thinks ghosts are funny. You know her face from television.

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