5 Ways Reading Can Improve Health and Wellbeing Continued from Part 1

3) Reading can improve sleep

Smartphones have become our regular bedtime buddy. Where’s the harm in having a quick check of Facebook before lights out? According to research, it could wreak havoc for your sleep.

A study published earlier this year in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that using a smartphone just before bedtime is linked to shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality.

This is primarily because the light emitted from the devices reduces the production of melatonin in the brain – a hormone that tells us when to sleep.

So what better excuse to swap your smartphone for a book before bedtime; according to the Mayo Clinic, creating a bedtime ritual – such as reading a book – can “promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.”

4) Reading can enhance social skills

Some people view books as a way to escape the real world and the people in it, but research has shown that when it comes to social skills, reading may have its uses.

A 2013 study published in the journal Science, for example, found that individuals who read fiction may have better “theory of mind” – that is, the ability to understand that people’s beliefs, desires, and thoughts are different to their own.

Further cementing the link between reading and improved social skills, a study reported by MNT earlier this year found that individuals who read fiction scored much higher on tests of empathy than those who read nonfiction.

Study author Keith Oatley, of the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at the University of Toronto, Canada, suggests that fiction allows the reader to engage with the characters, which may lead to increased empathy with others in reality.

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“The most important characteristic of being human is that our lives are social,” says Oatley. “What’s distinctive about humans is that we make social arrangements with other people – with friends, with lovers, with children – that aren’t pre-programmed by instinct. Fiction can augment and help us understand our social experience.”

5) Reading may boost intelligence

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go,” American author and illustrator Dr Seuss once wrote, and it seems he was right.

Studies have shown that reading can increase an individual’s vocabulary, which has been linked with greater intelligence. Research has linked stronger reading skills at a younger age with increased intelligence.

What is more, it appears that the stronger a person’s early reading skills, the more intelligent they are likely to become. A 2014 study published in the journal Child Development found that children with better reading skills by the age of 7 years scored higher on IQ tests than those with weaker reading skills.

“If, as our results imply, reading causally influences intelligence, the implications for educators are clear,” says study leader Stuart J. Ritchie, of the University of Edinburgh in the U.K.

“Children who don’t receive enough assistance in learning to read may also be missing out on the important, intelligence-boosting properties of literacy.”

For those of you who are avid readers, you can be safe in the knowledge that your pastime is providing a wealth of benefits for your health and well-being.

If you are still not convinced about dropping Breaking Bad and breaking in a novel, we’ll leave you with a quote from French writer and philosopher Voltaire:

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“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

CREDIT: Medical News Today

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