Books are fun for you, good for your brain
The study included 294 participants who died at an average age of 89 and found that those who engaged in mentally stimulating activities – like reading – earlier and later on in life experienced slower memory decline compared to those who didn't. It turns out that people who exercised their minds later in life had a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline than those with average mental activity. Conversely, the rate of decline among people with infrequent mental activity was 48 percent faster than the average group.
Seriously, books are like, really good for your brain
"'The brain is an organ just like every other organ in the body. It ages in regard to how it is used,'" lead author Dr. Robert P. Friedland told USA Today. "'Just as physical activity strengthens the heart, muscles and bones, intellectual activity strengthens the brain against disease.'"
You haven't had a good night's sleep since grade school
Sleep experts recommend establishing a routine to de-stress before bed so you can relax your mind and prepare your body for sleep. Just like washing your face and brushing your teeth (don't forget to floss!) reading should be a part of your nighttime ritual.
Bright lights like those from electronic devices actually signal your brain to wake up, so it may be a better idea to nix your nightly dose of Netflix and curl up with a novel instead. Reading a book in bed under a dim light is a sure way to soothe your body and mind – that is as long as you're not reading a page-turning thriller that will keep you awake all night.
Reading makes you care more
So go ahead, get lost in that story. Have a crush on the main character and cry when the author kills him off – it turns out it's good for you!
Reading can make you less depressed
Reading self-help books can also be beneficial in cases of severe depression. According to a University of Manchester meta-analysis published in 2013, people with severe depression can benefit from "low-intensity interventions," like interactive websites and self-help books, as much or more than those who are less severely depressed.
You need – and deserve – a break!
According to The Huffington Post, "Research conducted in 2009 at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex showed that reading was the most effective way to overcome stress, beating out old favorites such as listening to music, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and even taking a walk." According to The Telegraph, it only took the study participants six minutes to relax (which was measured by heart rate and muscle tension) once they started turning the pages.
When I'm stressed out and have a lot on my plate, I lock myself in my room and read. While this may not be the best thing for productivity's sake, my mental health really benefits from it. Whether it's reading just a few pages or a couple chapters that somehow turns into the whole book, set aside more time to read. You can thank me later, but not until I come out of my room with a newly finished book!