When it comes to our brain, there is no better superfood than reading a book.
As humans, our brains constantly crave stimulation. Due to the increase in technology, many of our reading habits are centered around tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram feeds. Fewer individuals are taking time out of their day to sit down, open up a novel and indulge in a few chapters.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than 26 percent of American adults have not read even part of a book within the past year. Those who are reading fiction, nonfiction or poetry for as little as 30 minutes a day over several years, are living an average of two years longer than those who read nothing at all.
Although we are taught as children to read to increase our intelligence, researchers are arguing that reading may be just as important in adulthood. What most adults are unaware of, are the numerous benefits that reading a book can give us.
Setting aside just 15 minutes a day can provide you with the following benefits:
1. Increased vocabulary
The more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, inevitably making their way into your everyday vocabulary. A University of London longitudinal study tested vocal skills of the same individuals at ages 16 to 42, discovering that those who are adults scored a higher percentage. 63 percent of adults proved that humans continue to learn language skills even as adults with the help of daily reading.
2. Reduced stress
No matter the amount of stress caused by your work, personal relationships or any other daily issue, losing yourself in a great story is a way to alleviate your worries. A study conducted at the University of Sussex found that only six minutes of reading was enough to distract and reduce participant’s stress levels by 68 percent.
3. Expanded knowledge
One of the biggest takeaways of reading books is the opportunity to gain knowledge. Books are a rich source in information, varying from subject-to-subject while increasing our depth on certain topics.
4. Improved writing skills
This goes hand-in-hand with expanding your vocabulary. Being exposed to published, well-written work will affect your individual work for the better.
5. Improved memory
When reading a book, you are required to remember an abundance of things: characters, backgrounds, history, ambitions and plots. That is a lot to unpack, but our brains are actually meant to store these particular bits of information. Every new memory you create makes new brain pathways and strengthens existing ones; Reading a book will do just this.
6. Improved focus and concentration
Many of our day-to-day lives involve our attention being drawn in many different directions. We tend to find ourselves multi-tasking most of the day, dividing our time between many different things. However, when reading a book, all your attention is focused on the pages directly in front of you. With your eyes and thoughts immersed on one particular task, this will help improve your concentration in the long run.
7. Increased empathy
According to Readers Digest, reading books, especially fiction, has been proven to increase one’s empathy. One 2013 study found that participants who read just the first part or chapter of a book showed noticeable increases in empathy just one week later, while news readers showed a significant decrease.
8. Better sleep
It is no secret that a lack of sleep leads to low productivity. Creating a regular de-stressing routine before you sleep can help calm your mind and increase your hours of sleep. Reading a book is one of the best walks to calm your nerves and brain before going to bed.
9. Portable and cheap entertainment
Compared to many other forms of entertainment, books are quite inexpensive. Saving that $10 for your movie ticket could be put towards a novel of your choice, one where you get to read every day.
10. Better health
There are thousands of great self-help books waiting to be purchased. Many of the books can help towards the improvement of your mental and physical health. According to UCSB Geography, the brain stimulation caused by reading can slow the progress (or possibly prevent) Alzheimer’s and Dementia, since it helps keep your brain active and engaged.
We are individually responsible for keeping our bodies and minds healthy. Although many may not see it as such, reading a book each day can affect our life span, all the while keeping us entertained.
Even setting aside 10 minutes a day can go a long way. Why not put your phone down, pick a novel of your interest and start your first chapter.