5 Health Benefits Of Reading: Number 3 Is Surprising!

Do yourself a favor this evening: turn off the TV, silence your phone, and curl up with a good book.

Reading is a great way to unwind and relax.

And if you need some motivation to pick up a book, here are five science-backed reasons to make reading a regular part of your routine:

Reduces Stress

In today’s fast-paced, constantly-connected world, finding ways to relax and de-stress is more important than ever.

And reading can be a great way to do just that.

One study found that just 30 minutes of reading can create a significant reduction in psychological distress. It also benefits your heart rate and blood pressure, which tend to be closely associated with stress levels.

Better Sleep

If you’re finding it hard to get a good night’s sleep, reading a book may help.

One of the most common causes of sleep issues relates to the usage of electronic devices before bed—TVs, phones, tablets, laptops, etc.

The light emitted by these screens can interfere with your body’s natural sleep cycle, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. It tricks your brain and body into thinking it’s still daytime. Instead of scrolling through your phone or watching TV leading up to your sleep time, try reading a book instead. This should help you to relax and prepare your body for sleep, leading to a better night’s rest.

Healthier Aging

One of the most important things you can do as you age is to keep your mind active and engaged.

Regular mental stimulation has been linked with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

And reading is a great way to give your brain the workout it needs.

Any kind of reading is better than nothing, but if you want to keep your brain sharp and slow down any age-related cognitive decline, try reading material that’s challenging for you. Pick something that isn’t so hard that it stresses you out or frustrates you but something that makes you think more complexly or teaches you something new.

Increased Empathy

Stories are a great opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world from a different perspective.

This can help increase your empathy—your ability to understand and share another person’s feelings.

And by expanding your empathy, literary fiction can help you build healthier relationships, be more active in your community, and be more successful in your career.

This also suggests that reading novels may be able to provide some assistance to conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorders and Schizophrenia which can sometimes come with deficits in social skills.

Longer and Happier Life

In a study published in 2017, it was found that reading books may contribute to living a longer life. The researchers followed 3635 older adult participants over 12 years, specifically keeping track of their reading habits (non-readers, book readers, newspaper, and magazine readers). 

After adjusting for relevant variables like age, sex, race, education, comorbidities, self-rated health, wealth, marital status, and depression, they observed a statistically significant survival advantage for the book readers.

Although this doesn’t mean that reading books will help you live longer, it suggests that the mental and physical health benefits of reading may contribute to a longer and happier life.