Not everyone is a voracious reader that devours volumes weekly. Thankfully, you don’t have to be to reap the benefits from one of life’s simplest pleasures. I’m a firm believer in the idea that there is a novel out there for everyone. Regardless of your interests, there is a story out there that will speak to you on a level that spoken words cannot. But, you should read every night, not just for the stories. The benefits of reading every night are far more prolific than that.
Luckily, you don’t have to read a novel or biography to get some of the premier rewards of reading. Reading just about anything before you go to sleep at night can improve mental health and overall brainpower. Even with only an Amazon Prime membership, customers are able to borrow books or short stories monthly to read on just about any device, for free! Nightly reading can also help get you those much needed eight hours of restful sleep. It would take a lifetime to express the wondrous power and benefits reading holds for the body and mind. So, to save time, here are just seven reasons you should read every night:
1. Fight Anxiety
Anxiety is a relentless beast that sinks its claws into a third of the world’s population. If you struggle with anxiety on a daily basis, reading every night may be the simple change that helps take the edge off. A study performed in 2009 at Seton Hall University, suggests that even just 30 minutes of nightly reading has the ability to lower blood pressure and steady a racing heart.
For some people, anxiety can be crippling. Fighting back doesn’t always have to involve medications that feel like they change who you are. Give yourself the opportunity to seek aid from heroes and friends eternalized in the written word. Turn a page and go on an adventure, learn a new skill or expand your knowledge on preexisting passions. The benefits of reading every night allow you to escape the fog by opening the cover to a world that someone else is anxious about so you don’t have to be.
2. Escape Responsibly
Forgetting about the daily grind and stresses for any amount of time each day is invaluable. If you read every night, it grants you an outlet from the struggles of your own life and allows you to walk in someone else’s proverbial shoes. Harry Potter isn’t worried about his arrogant boss or the in-laws staying for the weekend. He’s just trying to ward off the tides of evil from drowning out the light. And that’s far more interesting than Credit Karma alerting you that your credit score dropped 10 points.
Reading a novel allows you to vicariously triumph over stacked odds, navigate the labyrinth of love and solve puzzling murders all from the safety of your own mind. Even reading an interesting magazine article provides you with the benefits of reading associated with getting out of your head for a while. Maybe, it will even give you a new perspective on a topic you thought your mind was made up on. Reading every night presents a vehicle to escape from heartache or hardships that may plague your life, without fully turning your back on the world and your place in it.
3. Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes
Our parents teach us as much as they can. Hopefully, our schools have, too. But there are some things you can only learn by experiencing them for yourself. There’s a popular saying among readers, “I have lived a thousand lives,” and with each of those lives comes countless decisions and consequences. Reading about the experiences of others with the level of immersion that only books can supply is practically magic in itself. Allegorical tales give readers a chance to learn something valuable from characters that end up being not so different from themselves.
Readers tend to be more empathetic. And there’s a reason for that. The New School for Social Research in New York calls the skill of navigating and understanding complex social situations the Theory of Mind. They believe that reading, specifically fiction, further develops an individual’s ToM. Having the omniscient ability to understand the inner workings of a character’s mind doesn’t only help to move along a complex plot. It can also help readers be more patient and understanding with the feelings of others in their own lives. Consequently, comprehending the emotions of others makes it easier to maintain and improve our own personal relationships outside of the world built in our minds. The benefits of reading every night are the first step in prioritizing those important relationships.
4. Increase Brain Connectivity
The human brain craves stimulation. Like a muscle, the more we use it the stronger it becomes. Rather than sitting and watching a TV show happen in front of you, why not pick up a book or magazine and have the story happen to you? Research suggests that reading, as opposed to watching, can strengthen the intricate network of circuits in the brain. These strengthened connections and sensory reactions can even continue to improve as your reading ability advances. Brain scans would show a spectacle of illumination while the mind is wrapping itself around the intricacies of a story. Incredibly, the brain actually continues to increase connectivity long after you’ve put down the paperback. While reading fiction causes brain activity to ebb and flow with the story, reading anything from a medical journal to articles in a car magazine will light up your brain like a Christmas tree.
While the benefits of reading are essentially cumulative, that doesn’t mean it’s ever too late to start. Keeping your mind nimble by reading helps to decrease the chance of cognitive decline over the years. Start early if you can. But don’t be worried if you’ve passed your brain’s most malleable years. Experience the benefits of reading every night now. Reading for the brain is like denim for the body—it never goes out of style.
5. Stay Up On Current Events
If you are someone who doesn’t care for fantasy or fiction, reading the news instead of watching it allows you to stay current while nurturing that big gray mass behind your eyes. Reading information rather than watching it can allow for a better understanding as well as making it easy to remember. That’s why we primarily learn from textbooks instead of the clunky television substitute teachers roll out on wheels.
People tend to enjoy being right. I know I do. But if I am arguing with someone, and they mention information they read in a reputable magazine, I’m more likely to listen and take it seriously. If Uncle Gerald is just regurgitating nonsense from his favorite news channel, it’s a little easier to ignore him and keep eating his poor wife’s green bean casserole. He’ll tire himself out eventually.
6. Improve Your Vocabulary
It’s inevitable that as we read, we will come across words we do not know. Using context clues or even a dictionary to learn what these words mean will store them away in your brain for use on a rainy day. E-readers even have dictionaries built-in so that as soon as you encounter any foreign word, you can look it up without skipping a beat. Expanding your vocabulary is far more than just sounding smarter than everyone else. Soft skills, like emotional intelligence and interpersonal communication skills, are eternally valuable to employers. Also, being able to articulate ideas and present yourself in a knowledgeable manner can aid you in all facets of life. Not just in your profession.
7. Get Better Sleep
Oh yeah, the big kahuna. Anyone that says they don’t love or want more sleep is either lying or completely bonkers. Every self-help guide or list on how to improve the body and mind highlights the activity humans spend a third of their life doing: sleeping. Everything previously mentioned here is facilitated by a good night’s sleep, making proper sleep one of the most quintessential benefits of reading every night. I doubt that anyone needs to be reminded of the power of dreamland, but maybe you don’t know how reading comes into play.
Schedules exist for a reason. Even (or especially) during infancy, the importance of staying on a schedule is insurmountable. Adding reading to your nightly routine helps to let your body know that it is time to hit the hay. Read every night to wind down, while still stimulating your brain. It also can allow for your body to get more restful sleep. And remember how we talked about the effects of reading even after you’ve closed the cover? Healthy brain activity while sleeping is crucial for processing the information your brain has stored throughout the day. And if you can’t benefit from the experiences of each day, there would be no point in putting on pants in the morning.