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I Fell Asleep While I Was Reading A Book

July 1, 2014

(image via Wikimedia)

Last night I fell asleep while I was reading a book. I’m not sure if it was the book’s fault or mine. The book was kind of boring, but I’ve read boring books before and have never fallen asleep.

I’m lucky nobody saw me. If I my daughters had seen me, they would have taken a video and sent it to everybody they know. It might have even gone viral, a video of a dad reading a boring book and then slowly nodding off. If videos of dogs or cats slowly falling asleep can go viral, then why can’t a video of a human slowly falling asleep?

I woke up on the couch with the book on my lap and my neck in an uncomfortable tilt. I’m probably lucky I don’t have a crick. I did, however, have a headache. I hate waking up with a headache. It takes the fun out of falling asleep while reading a book. I’d rather feel the headache forming, so I can do something about it before it gets bad. If I wake up with a headache, I know that I’m stuck with it for a while. Maybe the headache has nothing to do with how I fell asleep, but it still makes me not want to fall asleep again while reading a book. It was a bad experience.

I don’t want to say what book I was reading when I fell asleep. It was a novel written by a famous author, so the author probably wouldn’t care if I announced that I had fallen asleep while reading his/her bestseller, but I still don’t want to say.  If somebody announced that he/she had fallen asleep while reading something I had written, I’d feel bad. I kind of want to say it was a James Patterson book that put me to sleep, but I’d be lying. James Patterson wants to be a record-setting author (can an author really be a record-setter if he uses co-authors?), so if he had been the first author to put me to sleep, he might take it as an achievement.  I don’t want to be the guy that makes James Patterson a record-breaking author.

This was the first time I had ever fallen asleep while reading a book. I had read books that made me sleepy before, but I’d always put the book down and turned off the light before falling asleep. I’ve fallen asleep while taking notes in college classes. I’ve even kept the notes where you can see my letters trailing off as I began dozing. I’ve never fallen asleep while driving, but I’ve had to pull over in a (hopefully) safe location and nap for a few hours. Caffeine can do only so much.

I’ve heard of other people falling asleep while reading. I guess it happens to a lot of people because a lot of people complain about falling asleep while reading. Sometimes they read because that’s the only way they can fall asleep. I’m not like that. I usually don’t have a problem falling asleep. I don’t even remember getting drowsy while I was reading. If I had noticed I was getting drowsy, I might have stopped reading. Do other people notice that they are getting drowsy and then keep reading anyway? Or do they not even notice? One moment they’re reading, and the next moment they wake up?

If I start falling asleep on a regular basis while I’m reading, I might become even more reluctant than I already am to read in public. I’m paranoid that somebody will sneak up on me while I’m reading public and conk me on the head. If I fall asleep while reading in public, weirdos won’t even have to try hard to sneak up on me. They won’t even have to conk me on the head. They can just take my stuff without even trying because I’d already be sleeping in public.

I don’t like the idea of falling asleep while I’m reading. This might mean that I’ll fall asleep while I’m doing other stuff. I don’t want to be the kind of person who starts falling asleep during other regular activities, like watching television, or reading a book, or driving a car. I don’t want to fall asleep unless I want to fall asleep. I don’t like the idea of falling asleep unless it’s on my terms. I don’t like not having control of my sleep. I don’t like that. I don’t like that one bit.

But enough about me! Have you ever fallen asleep while you were reading a book? Do you notice that you’re falling asleep while you’re falling asleep? Does reading help you to fall asleep? What was the first book that put you to sleep?


I don’t think anybody has ever fallen asleep while reading my ebook The Writing Prompt.  At least, if they have, they haven’t told me.

Now available on the Amazon Kindle!

Now available on the Amazon Kindle!

  1. I have a bad habit of committing myself to finish a page or a chapter before I fall asleep. When I start to nod off before I’ve finished, I try to reach my desired end page but invariably fall asleep on the way. I end up not really absorbing the last few pages of the chapter as a result.

    • When you do that, how long do you end up sleeping? Do you wake up a few minutes later or the next day? Do you remember where you stopped reading, or do you have to start over again? I know, that’s a lot of questions.

      • I wake up after a few minutes and finally realize I won’t get any more reading done. Then I turn out the lights, go to sleep, and have a normal rest of the night. As for retention, I generally have to re-read the last few pages!

  2. When I read book, it’s just I’m reading three to five chapters in a novel so that I did not get to the point that I feel drowsy. Just to share 🙂

  3. Michiko Burel permalink

    Falling asleep yes I have. Without knowing so, lots of times. Waiting on a man, just plainly anything that is boring, dull to the mind. I try my hardest to prevent such actions by distracting my mind, Just like you I do not like falling asleep on a book. It gives off a bad representation since the book was intended for an awake reader.

    • “…since the book was intended for an awake reader.” That’s true, but maybe somebody could intentionally write a book with the purpose of putting people to sleep. Insomniacs would have something other than drugs to turn to. Maybe Moby Dick, or Ulysses, or a bad translation of Russian literature would do the same thing.

      • Dante’s Inferno would be a good choice. Maybe a bad Russian translation of Dante’s Inferno?

  4. Mythoughts76 permalink

    I fall asleep while reading a GOOD book before bed. It just means my body is tired, so after I pick my chin up from my chest I turn out the light and go to sleep. I’m 55 years old by the way and I get very drowsy when I sit in front of the computer for too long, and I lay my forehead down on my hands, overlapped on my computer desk as I relax in my computer chair. I have no control over these drowsy moments these days. I admit I only get 5-6 hrs sleep a night.

  5. Mythoughts76 permalink

    Reblogged this on Books I've Enjoyed (and some I haven't).

  6. I have never fallen asleep on a book. I am aware of when i get sleepy while reading so i will either put the book down, turn out the light and go to sleep, or if the book is really exciting, i will ignore the warning signs and stay up until i’ve finished it.

    • I was just like you until a couple nights ago. Maybe what happened to me will happen to you. Maybe it never will. Maybe, just maybe, you will be one of those (I think) rare readers who have never fallen asleep while reading a book. Good luck to you! Even though my reading-awake streak has ended, yours may continue for a long, long time.

  7. Good post! I have never fallen asleep whilst reading a book and I also don’t want to. This and the problem that I can’t stop reading has been the cause of many sleepless nights.

  8. I fall asleep every night while reading. I think over the years I conditioned my body for this since if I can’t read before bed, I can’t sleep!! It is because while I was homeschooling my kids, the only time I was able to read what I wanted to for enjoyment was at bedtime after they went to sleep. Exhaustion took over most of the time, but occasionally, I stay up until 2 a.m., like last night just to finish a book! 🙂

  9. Sometimes I used to just bring a book to bed so then I would fall asleep but then ended up reading more than I should say like 4 in the morning. I have started now placing the bookmarker at a certain chapter say if they are really short or long it evens out. It happens!

  10. Reblogged this on Karen's world and commented:
    No matter how great the book, if my eyes want to shut they will!

  11. This post made me smile, thank you. I often fall asleep while reading. Like someone else I try to get to the end of a chapter, but so many times I end up having to re-read the chapter the next day to remember what happened! I have recently taken to reading while walking the dog – I might look odd and run the risk of walking into a lamppost, but to date I have not yet fallen asleep while reading!!

  12. J.C. Henry permalink

    Yes I have fallen asleep while reading a book. I also don’t like complaining about books, as a writer myself, I feel fans and readers don’t have a say in everything. Although I have read some books recently that had me considering changing my conviction.
    I found myself falling helplessly asleep watching the show Numbers on netflix, every time the guy started talking about math, I was out. I would wake up after they caught the bad guy.

    • I think the smart guy used math to catch the bad guy, but I never understood it. I wondered if the writers just made up stuff because they knew viewers either wouldn’t understand it anyway or would fall asleep.

  13. LOL I’ve fallen asleep reading a book and I’m pretty sure it was the books fault and if I wasn’t deeply in love with my Kindle I might’ve thrown it. I like you don’t want to say what book it was because it too was a “best seller” and received rave reviews. Which leads me to wonder, does being a NY Times best seller mean anything? Do people pay for these 5 star reviews? Hmmmmmm

    • A KIndle is easier to throw than a book (but more expensive to damage). However, a kindle would be safer to fall asleep with. It’s lighter, so it won’t hurt as much if it drops on your head, but it might break if it drops to a hard wood floor.

      I sometimes wonder if book reviewers even read (or finish) the books they review. I expect to fall asleep to obscure literary fiction but not to bestseller fiction.

  14. Pilgrim’s Progress. 🙂

  15. Don’t feel bad, I have fallen asleep reading a book while I’m riding the bus. I haven’t done this once but several times, especially after a long day at work. So far I haven’t found any viral videos of me on the internet, but then again, there is always the next time.

    • I’ve seen people reading on the bus, but I’m always suspicious that somebody would conk me on the head if I tried it. Maybe I’m too paranoid. I’ve seen people sleeping on the bus, and they’re usually left alone. It only takes one person to mess that up, though.

  16. liciously permalink

    Diary of a Fat Girl- Part 1… Follow me and you will see what I’m talking about

  17. I fall asleep while reading (and on public transport) all the time. Not an indication of the quality of the book, but more a result of my lack of a routine sleeping pattern. As far as security goes, I find the trick is to have any valuables attached to yourself in such a way that any potential thieves can’t get to them without disturbing you (for example, I usually have the strap of my handbag wrapped around my wrist or ankle…)

    • I could do everything you suggest (great advice, by the way), and I’d still worry about getting conked on the head. Maybe I could wear a helmet.

  18. Anupama permalink

    Sometimes I wish I could fall asleep while reading, that would make up for a lot of sleepless nights. But my conscience wouldn’t let me.

  19. I once fell asleep in a bed with my guitar and a sententious novel translated from the Central American Spanish which had been inflicted on me by a schoolfriend intoxicated with The Struggle. You know the one, the Struggle of poor people in colonial countries… OK, legitimate politics, but political screeds are notoriously bad literature. Zzz

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