How Reading Affects Your Brain

shutterstock_127957529Many people may have heard or read somewhere that reading can do something good for your brain. but they never really say what that good is. There are many benefits to reading, whether it be a short story here or there, or a new novel each week. Here are just some of the top reasons to get stuck into reading (if you’re not already).

  • Relaxation

    A study conducted in 2009 by Mindlab International at the University of Sussex found that reading was the most effective way of relieving stress. Reading was found to be even more effective than listening to music, taking a walk, or enjoying a cup of coffee or tea. The time it took participants to become relaxed while reading was just six minutes. It was even discovered that it did not really matter what the subject matter of the book was, so long as it was engaging to the reader in some way and it allowed the reader to become enveloped in the imagination of the author.

  • Sharp mind

    According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal in 2001, it was found that adults who participate in activities involving the brain were less likely to develop diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Just like exercising to keep your muscles strong and participating in activities to help bone strength, the brain is another organ that needs gentle exercise every day in order to stay healthy and strong right through to old age. Brain exercises help the brain to stay alert and reading books is certainly an activity that is going to benefit.

  • Better sleep

    shutterstock_208538758In today’s day and age, we are often consumed with technologies. For hours each we stare at a screen of some kind, often right up until we go to bed. But many have discovered that turning off electrical devices for a while before going to sleep can greatly improve your sleep. Added to this, if you read with dim light before sleeping, this can aid relaxation (as above) and help you go to sleep easier. Just make sure that the book you choose isn’t a real page-turner that makes you stay up all night!

  • Knowledge

    The more you read, the more you learn. Reading often increases the amount of knowledge you acquire. If you know more about different topics, chances are you’ll be more equipped to deal with daily challenges that may head your way. It has been said that even if you find yourself in dire circumstances with no job, possessions, money or even your health, you will always have your knowledge and no-one can ever take that away from you.

  • Vocabulary expansion

    Being well read will inadvertently increase your vocabulary. It will help you become more articulate and well-spoken, which can help in life and your career if you’re looking at career progression within your field of work. Being able to speak well to higher management will increase your chances of that promotion, as well as give you a boost of self-confidence.

  • Improved focus

    Our world is full of smartphones, apps and gadgets. In an average day, you may find yourself checking your phone, checking on what your child is watching on T.V, following Twitter, responding to a message on Facebook, all while looking online for a recipe for tonight’s dinner. Our attention span is often limited with today’s technology, and our focus is often on several things. However, when you are engrossed in a book your focus is on the story and everything else slips away. Try reading every day on your commute to work (if you catch a bus or train), and see how your daily focus and productivity improves.

  • New experiences

    Often when we read a fascinating book, it feels like we’ve lived it. That’s because the brain cannot distinguish between a story we read and reality. The same parts of the brain are stimulated when we experience an event as when we read about it. Sure, we can watch a movie and feel like we’re lost in the movie for a while, but reading a story has more of an effect on us. Books seem to be the original virtual reality simulator.

Reading can be a great escape, a relaxant and, at the same time, a stimulant. It can take us away on journeys we normally couldn’t go to, like back in time. Now that we know that reading can improve our brain functioning, there’s even more reasons to enjoy settling down to read a good book.