Book reading for better health

Imagine diving straight into a suspense novel or book about a strong life’s fate. You can be engulfed by history and build up your own colorful images. When you read you focus on one thing and the brain gets to rest from information flow and different impressions. You let go of everyday stress and can easily find a calmer pace. There is research showing that reading has positive effects on health.

If you have the goal of eating better and exercising more, but are not really successful, it may be easier to get started reading for ten minutes before going to sleep. Reading is a perfect break-down for the brain, which increases the chance of a really good night’s sleep. In addition, it has been seen that reading can reduce the risk of dementia and perhaps even increase survival. Here comes some of the research that shows the good effects of reading.

Reading can reduce the negative stress

According to a study done at the University of Sussex in England, reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68 percent. The co-author of the study, Dr. David Lewis, a neuropsychologist at Mindlab International in Sussex with colleagues, found that participants who read as little as six minutes a day, whether it was a magazine or book, had lower heart rates and decreased muscle tension.

By letting the focus on oneself and being swallowed up by a good book and the author’s imagination, one can escape from everyday stress and stress, says Dr. David Lewis. Reading is more than just a distraction, as one also engages one’s imagination, which can increase creativity and provide an opportunity to reach a changed state of consciousness.

Reading can improve sleep

A study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine saw that using smartphones before going to sleep gave shorter sleep and poorer quality of sleep.

Mainly because the blue light from the mobiles reduces our own production of melatonin – a hormone that tells us when it’s time to sleep. Maybe it’s time to revisit the evening routine and replace your cellphone with a book.

Reading can slow down cognitive aging

With age, we can notice that our brains are changing; our ability to react may be a little extended or we may have trouble remembering things we usually don’t forget. In 2013, a study was published in the journal Neurology, with results showing that reading and other mentally stimulating activities can reduce the development of dementia. Leading author, Robert S. Wilson, of Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and his team, included 294 adults with a median of 89 years. Each year, for an average of six years before dying, participants had to do a number of memory and thought tests. They also had to answer questions about how many mentally stimulating activities they had during childhood, adolescence, middle age and later in life.

By analyzing the participants’ brains after their death, the researchers found that those who had read, written, or done other mentally stimulating activities early or later in life showed lesser degree of physical evidence of dementia. The result supports a previously published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This showed that adults who read, played chess and participated in other mentally challenging activities, were two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Improved survival

Results from an American study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine showed that adults who read about three and a half hours each week had about 20 percent less risk of dying, during the twelve years of the study, than those who did not read. In other words, adults who read books survived almost two years longer for twelve years, compared to non-readers. Data were analyzed from 3635 men and women from the age of 50 and up who themselves reported on their reading habits. Even those who read magazines had a positive outcome on survival, but not as great as for book readers.

The results remained after taking into account, for example, gender, age, income and education. They did not look at why survival increased, but instead referred to a published study in 2013. This showed that reading increases contact between brain cells, which strengthens cognitive abilities and could reduce the risk of, for example, dementia diseases, which can shorten life.

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