Many people claim that they can’t get to sleep without first engaging with a chapter of a beloved book. But are there actually scientific benefits to reading before bed, or is it just the most convenient time to get away from life to a space quiet enough to enjoy it?
Read on to learn more about some legitimate reasons you should pick up a book – and put down your phone – in the hour leading up to sleep.
1. Reading Reduces Stress
The act of reading even a little bit before you sleep can help you relax significantly. One study was conducted in 2009 by the Mindlab International at the University of Sussex on this topic.
The study concluded that the act of reading reduced stress by as much as 68% – outperforming other activities generally thought to be relaxing, such as listening to music, taking long walks, or drinking tea.
Even better, to take full advantage of this stress-reducing activity, you only need to be engaged with a book for 6 minutes. This isn’t too surprising, since when you’re immersed in a good book, it takes your mind off your stresses for a while. You can go somewhere else and be someone new.
The study showed that the content of what you’re reading doesn’t matter so much as the fact that you are reading; you may experience the positive effects of reading before bedtime with a history textbook, a daring fantasy, or a fashion magazine.
2. Reading Boosts Brain Power
It’s no secret that reading makes you smarter. Not only are you taking in and absorbing more information about the world, exposing yourself to higher levels of vocabulary, and better understanding how people work, but you’re also giving your brain muscles a workout.
As you strive to process linguistic information, make connections, and create corresponding images in your mind, you’re giving your intelligence a boost. Reading helps to reduce the risk of Alzheimers and other degenerative diseases. If you make it a point to read before bed every night, you are carving time out of your day to exercise your brain muscles.
3. Reading is a Form of Meditation
Not only does reading reduce overall stress, but it also helps you to relax in the moment. Some researchers have compared reading to a form of meditation. Similarly to actual meditation, your body undergoes physiological effects such as relaxed muscles and slowed breathing.
Meditating before bed makes you sleepy, leading to both falling asleep faster and a more restful slumber; reading does the same thing.
Additionally, similarly to meditation, reading from someone else’s perspective helps you to think more deeply about your beliefs, shape your view of the world, and see life from other peoples’ points of view. If that’s not meditation, then I’m not sure what is!
While we listed the top 3 benefits above, there are a number of other reasons why you should pick up a book before bed. They include:
- Reading makes us smarter – It’s common sense that when you read regularly you’ll become smarter. Not only are you improving your vocabulary, but you’re also learning about new things, facts and information, plus you’re improving your cognitive skills.
- Increases levels of empathy – There is a correlation between people who read regularly and how empathetic they are towards others. As you’re reading more you’re learning about the world from another person’s perspective. It helps us also form meaningful relationships with others.
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Reading before bed leads to a reduction in overall stress, a boost in brainpower, and can function as a form of meditation. All of these things can lead to a deeper, more restful sleep, as well as a general improvement on your life as a whole.
Unlike other stress-reducing activities, reading can give you some of the best benefits in the shortest amount of time.