5 Health Benefits You Get from Reading Books

Books offer you greater longevity, improved brain connectivity, lower stress levels and other health benefits.

There is an abundance of scientific research indicating that reading appears to promote good health. Let’s take a look at 5 of the health benefits people can derive from reading books:

Reading May Contribute to Longevity

Researchers at the Yale University of public health conducted a long-term, twelve-year study, after which they concluded that reading appears to have a protective effect contributing to human survival and longevity. They found that book readers had a tendency to survive for nearly 2 years longer than their counterparts who did not read books.

Reading Can Help to Improve Brain Connectivity

Researchers conducting a fascinating study examined changes in the study subjects’ resting-state brain activity levels over a three-week time frame. During this time period, the study subjects were tasked with reading a complete novel.

The researchers studied the effects on the readers’ brain activity, and they discovered that some brain connections appeared to increase in strength while the study subjects were reading. Those changes appeared to persist after the act of reading had been completed. The researchers concluded that story reading appears to strengthen language-processing regions of the brain.

Reading Improves Sleep Quality

Reading before bed can improve your sleep quality, according to experts at Ecosa. They point out that it is necessary to read physical, paper books rather than ebooks to derive this benefit, because the blue light your electronic devices emit can have an adverse effect on your circadian rhythms. You bypass this danger when you choose paper books.

Furthermore, habitual reading before bed can even help to combat insomnia, according to research posted in the Journal of Healthcare Communications. This is because habitual reading before sleep can help to regulate the body’s internal clock. Once the habit has been established, the act of reading sends a signal to the brain that it is time to relax and sleep.

Reading Can Help You De-Stress and Unwind

Researchers at the University of Sussex determined that reading reduces a person’s stress levels by 68 percent. These results were evident in as few as 6 minutes. Interestingly, when the researchers tested other stress busters such as listening to music, drinking tea and taking a walk, they discovered that reading was more effective.

Shared Reading Helps to Alleviate Chronic Pain

According to research published in the BMJ Journal for Medical Humanities, shared reading can be a beneficial therapy for people who suffer from chronic pain.

Shared reading happens when small groups of people, typically between 2-12, come together on a regular basis – usually at least once per week – to read poetry, short stories or books together out loud. The literature can be from any genre or period, and it isn’t specifically pre-selected to be of interest to people who suffer from chronic diseases or conditions.

The researchers compared results from a shared reading group against results from a group who had been concurrently participating in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They concluded that shared reading was helpful, and that it would make a viable longer-term follow-up or adjunct to CBT for people who were suffering from chronic pain.

Clearly, books offer their readers a number of powerful benefits beyond just the knowledge and entertainment they contain. So don’t feel guilty next time you take some time out to read a great book, or even a mediocre one. Know you’ll be contributing to your own longevity — and that you might even be combatting stress, boosting your brainpower, and fighting insomnia as you read. And if you suffer from chronic pain, it’s also reassuring to know that you could hold shared reading support group sessions with others to get even more benefit from your books.


  • Christine Chen



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