Here’s Why Reading a Book Might Help You Sleep Better, Relieve Stress, Fight Brain Aging and More

While we’re celebrating our first annual Book Week at The Institute with recommendations from some of our favorite anti-aging authors, we want to remind you why you need to read in the first place.

Here are our top five reasons to pick up a regular reading habit today:

1) Sleep

Up to 70 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep disorder. One of the most common issues people have is the inability to fall asleep quickly. Fortunately, there is a free (with a library card), non-pharmaceutical way that you can prime yourself for a solid night’s sleep that begins with a quick dive into your dreams: reading.

In addition to avoiding blue light, turning off screens or computers and keeping your room cool, reading a book, on paper with a dim light before bed is a proven method to calm your mind and signal to your body that it’s time for sleep. Reading before bed also forces your mind to focus on one task, crowding out any other “noise” that may keep you awake.

2) Stress Relief

Reading is a solitary activity. Unfortunately, it’s when we’re alone that anxiety and stressful thoughts creep into our brains. When this begins to happen, it’s common to want to shift your brain’s attention to something else. You know what works perfectly for that? Books! Diving into a great novel in your favorite genre is the best way to take your mind off of…well…everything.

3) Entertainment

Binging shows is cool sometimes. You know what’s cool all the time? Binging books. Instead of endlessly scrolling Netflix for someone else’s interpretation of a book, why not grab a book and begin creating yourself. When you read a book you’re the director and producer. The characters look how you picture them in your mind. The scenes and pace of the story follows your inner monologue. You’re in total control. And if you feel like laughing, grab a funny book. Want to be thrilled, grab a detective story. And if you’re into being scared, there’s about 30 Stephen King books waiting for you.

4) Intelligence

We live in an era where nobody trusts experts and everyone believes the news is fake. If you’re on social media you’re likely fed a steady diet of click bait and headlines to make you emotional about the latest cause du jour. But spouting headlines and repeating talking points doesn’t make you smart. It makes you a drone. You know what does make you smart? Reading books on topics that matter to you and forming your own opinion. Whether you’re a history buff or you’re curious about space travel or you’re into philosophy or biographies on business leaders, reading books allows you to not only learn about the smartest people in the room, it helps you become one.

5) Anti-Aging

Mental deterioration. Brain fog. Forgetfulness. These are common signs of an aging brain and they happen to all of us. In order to stave them off as long as possible, we need to exercise our minds exactly like we exercise our bodies. We need to constantly challenge ourselves and learn new things. Crosswords puzzles are great for this. Books are better. With books we can decide, at any time, to tackle a brand new subject. We can read all about ancient Rome or the pyramids. We can choose to give ourselves a course on Winston Churchill or Muhammad Ali and read their biographies and autobiographies. We can pick up an entirely new subject and read a series of books on computer science or starting a new business. Books allow us to dive into new topics and keep our minds young. Forever.


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