The Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day
There is nothing better than getting lost in a good read. For many, getting lost in the pages of a book is an easy way to unwind and escape into a different world away from the everyday. But reading is more than a relaxing hobby. Regularly burying yourself in a book has a plentiful supply of significant benefits that go unnoticed when you are reading for pleasure. So if you feel like your motivation to pick up your book is faltering, learning about the many benefits of reading may change your mind!
Why is reading good for you?
Improves your brain
As well as being a great way to procrastinate, reading is also really beneficial for your brain. One study has found that reading helps slow down memory loss – people who did not train their minds through reading experienced 48% faster decline in memory retention than those who did!
Reading is also a way to give your brain a good workout. Unlike watching TV or listening to podcasts, enjoying a book helps to stimulate your mental focus. By training your brain through regular reading, you will find yourself able to focus more in your everyday life, as you are frequently presenting yourself with new information and language. This can also help to prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s and Dementia – those who habitually engage their brains in activities such as reading can be 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who spend their downtime on less mentally engaging hobbies.
Reduces depression and anxiety
Reading can also help motivate and direct you when you’re feeling a little lost. This is particularly helpful when you are suffering from conditions such as depression, as self-help books have been found to help prevent depression as they motivate you to believe in change and self-improvement. This helps to boost the parts of your brain that are associated with happiness and optimism, which in turn reduces the effects of depression and feelings of helplessness.
Enjoying a book could also be a better way to relax and unwind than yoga! Yes, you read that right. According to research carried out by the University of Sussex, reading can be a faster way to calm you down and relax than listening to music, going for a walk or enjoying a good cuppa. In the study, it was found that the participants stress levels were reduced by 68% by losing themselves inside the pages of a book. They only needed to read silently for six minutes to reap the benefits, as this was long enough for their heart rate to slow down and muscles to relax. In comparison, playing video games only reduced their stress levels by 21% and still left the participants with higher heart rates than when they started.
Helps you sleep
Because of how relaxing nestling up with a good book is, reading is a great way to unwind after a long day at the office or just before bed, much better in fact than zoning out in front of a screen. It is common knowledge that diving into a book before bed can help you get a better night’s sleep. In comparison, staring at a screen – whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or TV – can actually make you have a worse nights’ sleep. By looking at devices that emit light in the hours leading up to bedtime, you can seriously damage your sleep quality. This is because it confuses your body as to what time of day it is by suppressing your melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone. This means that you not only take longer to fall asleep as your brain has to switch off, but it also reduces the amount of REM sleep you have and makes you feel sleepier in the morning. So when you’re wanting to get ready for bed, opt for a novel instead of Netflix.
Getting lost in a good read can make it easier for you to relate to others. Especially with fiction books, you are able to understand and empathise with the feelings of other people, even if they are book characters. Reading lets you experience lives and situations very different from your own, and this can help you when interacting with different people in real life.
How to read every day
Even with all these benefits of reading, picking up a book every day can seem an impossible task for those of us with a hectic schedule, especially if you are not a natural booklover. But it is easier than you think. The old maxim of ‘little and often’ is one of the best ways to get yourself into reading every day. By regularly reading for around 30 minutes a day is long enough to reap all the benefits and can even add two years to your life.
If 30 minutes seems daunting, aim to read for 10 minutes every day – whether it’s on the way to work, before bed or at lunchtime. Then, once this has become a habit, increase it by 5 or 10 minutes every week so that before you know it you are reading for 30 minutes or more every day. These snippets of reading time should be used to relax you when you most need it – like at the end of the day to help unwind your busy mind or before bed to help your brain prepare for sleep.
If you don’t want to carry around a heavy book or are put off by the idea of reading huge novels, then why not try an e-reader like a Kindle. This will not only mean that you aren’t carrying cumbersome books around, but you can also switch between books easily if you feel that you cannot focus on one book for extended periods of time.
Want to start reading but don’t know where to start? Head over to Books section for recommendations and more reading know-how.