Picture it: you slip inside your luxurious linen sheets, ready for a good night’s sleep. Before shutting off the light, however, you pick up that novel from your bedside table to spend an hour turning its pages. Does imagining this already make you feel relaxed? If it does, you’re already tapping into one of the many benefits reaped from reading before bed. Here are six reasons why you should leave your cell phone at the door and instead pick up a good old fashioned book before hitting the hay.
In an age when we spend most of our waking hours working stressful jobs, turning to an old fashioned book can automatically trigger a relaxation response in the body. In fact, the University of Sussex found in a study that even just six minutes of reading can reduce stress more than having a calming cup of tea or listening to music.
What do computer genius Bill Gates and renowned designer Vera Wang have in common? They both read before bed. Activating your brain in this way before settling into sleep can trigger new thought patterns, different perspectives and a whole new creative way of looking at the world.
3. Better Sleep
Let’s face it: we go to bed to get sleep. These days, however, lots and lots of us aren’t sleeping that well at all – according to a study of a million nights of sleep in the lives of Americans which revealed that nearly %80 weren’t getting even seven hours of sleep a night. What’s the problem? Partly, it’s blue light. This type of light is what’s exuded from the many digital devices we spend so many hours staring at. Apps exist to slowly filter the blue light from your phone and computer as you get closer to bedtime but another option to set your mind towards sleeping and allow your chemistry to work its night-time magic is to simply pick up a book.
4. Brain Exercise
We probably are all aware that reading is good for the brain – but studies are now revealing that it can actually lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Engaging the brain in activities like solving puzzles and reading helps to keep your brain well-toned and less likely to succumb to this degenerative disease.
5. Increases Empathy
Reading a story is an act of putting ourselves in other people’s shoes. Instead of what we usually do online – let the world know in pretty pictures what exactly we ordered at that restaurant and wait for a slew of appreciative ‘likes’ and hearts – we are following the events of somebody else. This act has been proven to increase our levels of empathy for the experiences of other human beings. This is good not only for ourselves – but also for our kids, if we read to them before bed.
6. It’s Fun!
There’s nothing like a good book! It engages the imagination and draws you into a world entirely of your own making (in cooperation with the author, of course!). Reading a gripping story that might actually keep your light on long into the wee hours is a deeply enjoyable activity. Combined with all the other health and wellness benefits that reading gives us, it’s time that you incorporated this incredible bedtime ritual into your life.