12 Suggestions for Reading in Bed (without disturbing your Partner)

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

The Night Owl Dilemma:

You’re probably all too familiar with this situation by now. It’s been a wonderful evening between you and your significant other when they decide to call it a night and head off to bed. Being the loving partner that you are, you graciously offer to join them. But there’s just one problem, you’re a night owl and you know you won’t be tired enough to fall asleep for hours. So you decide to crack open your favorite book instead. However despite your romantic gesture to accompany your partner to bed, you’re quickly met with groans and dirty looks as your reading light illuminates the room. After all, how can anyone possibly fall asleep in the midst of that much light?!


Seinfeld reading in bed

If you’re like an estimated 75% of couples suffering from different sleep schedules (myself included), then you probably already know just how big of a deal this is. The truth is that even the most compatible couples in the world are still made up of 2 individuals, each with their own independent habits and preferences. We’re all hardwired with their own internal body clocks, with a pre-disposition to go to sleep and wake up at different times. And while the internet is filled with articles stressing the importance of couples sleeping together, there really just isn’t a good solution out there that allows one partner to stay up reading in bed/watching TV in bed/etc., without waking up their partner.


Being the night owl in my relationship, I was desperate for a solution to this problem ever since I moved in with my significant other. I knew how important going to bed together was, but those late-night moments spent reading in bed were important to me, as it was a time I could truly relax and decompress from all the stresses of that day. I had become so accustomed to the benefits of “reading myself to sleep”, which heled me fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly, that I wasn’t ready to give it up.


Night owl drinking coffee

After spending countless hours researching and testing just about every solution the internet had to offer, I came to the conclusion that there just wasn’t a viable answer out there. Even if I didn’t fully wake up my fiancée, the interruption to her sleep quality (more specifically her REM sleep) was enough to cause some issues. So to save you the time and effort (as well as show you why the Night Nook is the only real solution), I’ve put together the definitive list of suggestions to allow you to read in bed… and why they all suck:



The reasonable suggestions:

1) Suggestion:

  • The common bedside lamp

Why it doesn’t work:

  • Emits too much unblocked light (even with the fancy specialized/twistable lamps)

  • Light reflects off the walls and ceiling which illuminates the room


2) Suggestion:

  • Clip-on Reading Light

Why it doesn’t work:

  • Also emits too much unchecked light, even with the specialized dim settings

  • The light still shines around the room, again reflecting off the walls and ceiling

  • Being that its handheld, every slight user movement creates the effect of a shaky flashlight

3) Suggestion:

  • Use a Reading Light under a Blanket

Why it doesn’t work:

  • Uncomfortable – gets hot quickly and lack of air circulation makes it difficult to breathe

  • Very hard to keep the blanket in the right place since it doesn’t have a rigid structure. It’s constantly draping over your head and the book, impairing your vision.

  • If using the comforter it’s difficult to wrestle away enough from your (blanket hog) partner, but if you’re using a standard blanket it’s likely too thin to fully block the light


Reading under blanket

4) Suggestion:

  • E-book/Kindle/IPad/Tablet

Why it doesn’t work:

  • Most use blue light, which has some serious negative impacts on your sleep quality

  • Exposure to blue light tricks your internal clock into thinking it’s daytime, reducing your natural melatonin production, a hormone that signals it’s time to fall asleep

  • The night /non-blue light settings are often too dull and lack enough contrast to read clearly, which can lead to severe digital eye strain

  • These can be expensive, often costing hundreds of dollars.

  • Most importantly, many of us just still love an old fashioned paper book!


Using tablet to read in bed

5) Suggestion:

  • Read on the Couch before Bed

Why it doesn’t work:

  • Ignores the whole “going to sleep alongside your partner” part of this

  • Miss out on the benefits of “reading yourself to sleep”, including helping you fall asleep quicker and get better sleep quality throughout the night (BLOG LINK)

  • Can lead to “sleep procrastination”, or delaying getting off the couch due to the nighttime chores remaining (washing up, brushing teeth, etc.) before going to bed, making you more likely to stay up later than your intended bedtime

  • Likely to disturb your partner when you do get into bed (shining a light to see, bed movement when you lay down, wrestling away blankets, etc.)


Friends napping on couch


6) Suggestion:

  • Partner Wear a Sleep Mask

Why it doesn’t work:

  • Uncomfortable for a number of reasons as many don’t fit properly, the fabric can be irritating, can apply pressure against your eyelids, the strap can get tangled around your ears or hair, etc.

  • Often doesn’t block all of the light (especially if you move around while sleeping), which can create an even bigger annoyance when light does slip in

  • Can feel a bit claustrophobic

  • Difficult to convince your partner that they have to change their sleep routine since its really “your issue” of wanting to stay up later


Now we’re getting a bit out there…


7) Suggestion:

  • Wear a Headlamp

Why it doesn’t work:

  • Besides the comical aspect of looking like an idiot, this is also a hand-held device (or in this case head-held), which will also create the shaky flashlight effect from user movement

  • Also has the same issue of unchecked light reflecting off the walls and ceiling


Dog with headlamp

8) Suggestion:

  • Install a Privacy Curtain / Room Divider

Why it doesn’t work:

  • Costly – purchasing the materials + installation can cost hundreds of $

  • Some light will still reflect off the ceiling to your partner’s side of the bed

  • Feels like you’re sleeping in a hospital bed… for both of you

9) Suggestion:

  • Build a Pillow Wall

Why it doesn’t work:

  • Though this one may be a ton of fun, there’s really no amount of pillows & blankets that can truly block enough light from reflecting around the room and bothering your partner (trust me, I tried)

  • Building a large enough wall to have any impact takes up a lot of space on the bed, which not only makes the bed feel smaller but can wake up your partner when they roll over and bump into it


Reading in bed under pillow fort


And finally, we are completely off the rails (though credit for creativity)


10) Suggestion:

  • Get a Divorce (or find a less complaining wife)

Why it doesn’t work:

  • No comment, my fiancée will be reading this…


girlfriend angry at boyfriend in bed

11) Suggestion:

  • Learn Braille

Why it doesn’t work:

  • If you’ve got the time & energy then this would be pretty awesome, though your book selection may be a bit limited…

12) Suggestion:

  • Night Vision Goggles

Why it doesn’t work:

  • Honestly, we’ve got nothing on this one, it may be a winner


Stepbrothers night vision goggles

And finally, why the Night Nook is that Holy Grail you have been searching for!

  • It completely blocks all light from escaping into the rest of the room, guaranteeing your partner will not be disturbed

  • It can be set up with 1 easy motion, all without getting out of bed

  • Folds completely flat for compact, daytime storage

  • Great for those moments when you’re struggling to fall asleep and need to relax your mind, as failing to do so can lead to some pretty serious problems such as chronic insomnia (link)

Night Nook allowing you to read at night

So feel free to test out any of the solutions above, and once you get sick of all their flaws we’ll have your Night Nook waiting for you.



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