Confession – I’m a total bookworm. When I need to unwind a hot bath and a good book are my ideas of total heaven. Tell me I’m not alone?
If you’re on the same page (see what I did there *queue the giggles*) you’re most likely in it for a killer plot and a little you time.
But did you know that you’re actually reaping a ton of health benefits when you’re stuck in a good book?
Seriously! Reading something you enjoy is an incredible form of self-care. And has tons to offer your well-being.
Wanna know more? Let’s get cozy together and talk about all of the amazing health benefits of reading books.
And then we should go to the book store and stock up. Because, if I learned anything from researching for this post, more books kind of equals less problems. It’s all win!
5 Rad Health Benefits of Reading Books
1. Reading Reduces Stress
Reading is a wonderful way to relax and unwind. It provides us with this fantastic opportunity to immerse ourselves into another world. A it’s a seriously powerful way to reduce stress!
But don’t just take my word for it – Neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis found that it only takes 6 minutes of reading to reduce stress by up to 68%. 68 FREAKING PERCENT! Are you as blown away by this as I am?! And that lovely drop in stress allows you to unwind, relax and even prepare for sleep (we’ll talk more on that in a second). Total win! (source 1, source 2)
Reading even beat out your typical forms of stress relief, like walking, relaxing with a cup of tea or listening to your favourite tunes. It’s just that powerful! Which is a really big reason why reading is important for your well-being. (source)
But wait, there’s more! Dr. Lewis has this to say about reading:
“It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination” (source)
And what a lovely place to explore indeed!
2. Reading Can Help You Sleep Better
Since reading is so good at helping us relaxing and unwind, it really isn’t all that surprising that it can help us catch some serious Zzz too. A relaxed mind is more apt to shut down for the day.
But stress relief isn’t the only thing that helps us get ready for some shut eye. Creating a nighttime routine, like laying down with a good book for a hot minute before bed, lets your body know that it’s time to sleep. Sticking to a relaxing bedtime schedule can ultimately help you fall asleep easier. Those books are looking better by the minute, aren’t they! (source)
It’s important to know that reading from a physical book is best before bed.
Reading from a screen at night might make it harder for your to fall asleep. No thanks! (source)
Why? Well, one big downfall is that tablets emit blue light! And that hinders melatonin production. Which is a bummer because melatonin controls your sleep/wake cycle. (source)
One study found that those who do their pre-sleep reading on an iPad experienced a 50% drop in melatonin. And their melatonin production cycle was pushed forward by up to 1.5 hours, giving them a sort of jet lag. Ew! (source)
Plus they took longer to fall asleep, felt less alert in the a.m. and experienced less REM sleep. Which means they probably had less dreams than their book reading counterparts. Less dreams?! I’d feel seriously cheated. (source)
So pick up a good (physical) book and read for a few minutes before bed.
Dr. Lewis even says that genre doesn’t matter. You’ll still experience a some stress relief and find yourself feeling more relaxed and ready to sleep. (source)
But maybe avoid an intense thriller or horror just in case. I don’t know about you, but that could easily keep me awake all night.
It also helps to make sure that it’s not something so engrossing that you’ll stay up all night reading. Because that will definitely make you tired! And that sort of trumps the sleep related benefits of reading books, now doesn’t it?
3. Reading May Ease Depression
Did you know that there’s such a thing as bibliotherapy? How freaking amazing is that?! Basically reading self-help books combined with professional support can help to reduce symptoms of depression. (source)
Reading something helpful while seeking help married really well! It also gave patients a great opportunity to receive guidance and learn practical ways to implement the coping mechanism they learned from their books.
This study showed that those who received support and read self-help book concurrently had lower levels of depression after only 4 months than those who only saw a counselor. Even a year later, those who read while they received in person help were still doing much better.
The books may have made the patients feel more motivated and capable, giving them hope that they can get better. While more studies are absolutely needed, it’s really promising and might make it worth while to ask your therapist for book suggestions that might help. (source)
4. Reading is Good for Your Brain
Diving into a sweet story is like a workout for your gorgeous brain! You might not be lifting weights, but you’re doing some serious concentrating, imagining and thinking. It’s basically brain Pilates! But with fewer reps and a lot more plot twists.
All of that brain power can really help to boost your memory. And might even slow down the mental decline we often experience as we age. Potentially by as much as 32 percent (woah!) Which keeps that brain keen and focused for much longer. (source 1, source 2)
Even cooler, reading might help to fight against Alzheimer’s Disease!
Treating yourself to anything mentally engaging, like a lovely moment with a good book, can potentially help to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, according to this study, regularly enjoying mentally stimulating activities (like reading, puzzles, Sudoku, etc) could make you up to 2.5 times less likely to develop the disease. Those are some good potential odds!
5. Reading Teaches Us Empathy
This little tidbit is specific to fiction. Because, when we read a good fiction, we dive into the character’s emotions and experience their reality and perspective. Which are often very different from our own personal views and experiences. That connection leads to understanding and, ultimately, empathy. Which, in turn, increases our overall emotional intelligence. Booyah!
Boom! Reading takes care of us and makes us better. How cool is that?
Final Thoughts On The Benefits of Reading Books
Picking up a good book is more than just a fun way to pass the time. You’re supporting your mental well-being and indulging in some serious self-care.
So run a warm bath, put on some cozy pj’s or find a comfy bench in your favourite park and bust out some literary goodness! You are definitely never wasting your time when you’re busy getting lost in a story.
Now it’s your turn! Do you love to read? Are you feeling inspired to pick up a book? Any benefits of reading books that you would like to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below sweet friends!
Health and love,
Thought of the day: If something makes me feel well it’s never a waste of time.
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