Adequate sleep is a must for all of us. However, the Sleep Foundation found that 35% of Americans sleep less than seven hours a night and 50% of Americans feel sleepy three to seven days a week. One of the most important ways to fall asleep and stay asleep is to read books before bed. Here are some reasons why.
1. Break from screen time
The link between poor sleep and screen viewing couldn’t be more obvious. Screens don’t just include TVs and laptops; Your iPad, phone and e-reader all use screens. Looking at screens for up to 1.5 hours before bed reduces the natural surge of melatonin your body produces. Additionally, devices with screens can often be stimulating, which affects your overall level of relaxation and can prevent you from falling asleep.
On the other hand, regular old-fashioned books can be a much-needed escape from the intrusive light of technology. Simply looking at something that doesn’t emit a bright light allows your body to naturally relieve tension and relax into sleep.
2. Stress Relief
Not only does reading give you a break from looking at a screen, but the actual activity of doing it has been found to reduce stress by up to 68%. In addition, it has been found to be even more effective than other stress relievers like drinking tea or listening to music. It is often cited that reading’s ability to transport you into a life that is not your own is a major reason for its relaxing properties.
If you’re specifically trying to relax and de-stress before bed, naturally choose a relaxing book. At least choose one that doesn’t make you feel even more stressed. Novels about subjects you love, wellness books, or maybe even something that teaches you about a hobby could be great ideas for books to read before bed.
3. Improved sleep quality
Reading is an activity that trains your brain without active physical stimulation because you can read while lying down. It slowly relaxes your body and mind until you fall asleep. It allows you to leave the present of your reality and engage with something else.
This improves your sleep quality as it puts you to sleep relaxed rather than trying to artificially induce yourself into a restful state. As a result, you often wake up more rested.
In addition, most people have trouble falling asleep due to stress and anxiety. Physiologically you are stimulated by the hormones that are released when you start to feel that pressure and stress. Therefore, you are more likely to not fall asleep or wake up when they are present. Reading helps you break this cycle within yourself as it can take you out of your own experience.
We all have neurons called mirror neurons. These neurons fire when we see someone doing something or when we do something ourselves. This proves the neuroscientific existence of empathy.
One study suggests a correlation between these neurons and reading. This finding may suggest that reading is a way to feel more empathy.
Another study also found some grounds to scientifically prove that the readers actually empathize with the protagonists’ bodies in the books they read. In addition, the study showed how deep this connection can be; There was even some correlation between reading and changing the parts of the brain that deal with sensory feelings.
5. Long-term effects on cognition
A 2013 study of the effects of reading on the brain found that reading improved the brain’s “connectivity,” or the brain’s ability to understand stories and think critically about them, was a significant short-term benefit of reading .
More studies need to be done on the long-term effects of reading on your brain connectivity to say whether they empirically exist or not. However, there’s no denying that reading as a hobby exposes you to new ways of thinking, lets you see new perspectives, and challenges you to understand concepts you wouldn’t otherwise encounter. In general, this forces you to be creative and mentally agile.
6. Short term investment
The average recommendation is that adults read at least twenty minutes a night to reap the benefits of reading. Comparatively, however, this is a short amount of time to relax and you don’t have to do much.
As strange as it may sound, reading is a better investment of time than most other forms of mind-body relaxation. There is no special training, equipment or even preparation that you need to undertake. Just keep a book next to your bed.