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Benefits of reading

Do you read regularly? If not, can you remember the last book, or sizeable article you read? Most of our daily reading behaviours consist of consuming easily digestible social media posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. By not engaging in reading properly, you may be missing out on a number of important benefits that reading can offer you. Here are some of the scientific benefits of reading.

Improved Learning Outcomes

A recent study conducted by the National Literacy Trust, found that young people who are seen to enjoy reading show greater reading proficiency, vocabulary development, text comprehension and grammar accuracy, proficiency in mathematics and learning in general. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that books expose children to 50% more words than prime time TV. Importantly, the paper went on to explain how exposure to higher levels of vocabulary help children perform better in exams, when reading skills are high. This could be particularly useful and valuable for children who sit 11+ exams at earlier stages of their education.

Boosting Your Brain Power

Richard Steele suggested that “reading is to the brain, what exercise is to the body”. Not only does reading have the ability to help you become more intelligent, but it can also grow your brain’s functionality. If we want to improve our body’ strength or cardiovascular ability we can join the gym or go for a 5k run, right? However, what can we do to do boost our brain power? Neurology reports that regular reading has the power to improve memory retention, brain function and stem the decline of mental ageing by 32% in later life. So exercising your brain through reading can act as your brain’s very own personal trainer.

Reading is Relaxing

At the University of Sussex, researchers have found that reading for six minutes per day can reduce stress by up-to 68%. Neuropsychologist, Dr Lewis, stated that reading was a more powerful tool to de-stress than running, listening to music, drinking tea/coffee and even talking a walk (42%). Find out more about the benefits of taking a short walk in one of our recent blogs. Does it matter what book I read? Definitely not! As long as the book allows you to absorb yourself in its engrossing features, any book can provide a sanctuary to escape the pressures and stresses of everyday life. This can be particularly helpful for children with busy week days. Encouraging your child to take a short amount of time out of their day to read, can be a great way to help them de-stress, away from school, sport or their social commitments.

Reading to Help You Sleep

One way to incorporate reading into a busy schedule, is reading before you go to bed. See our blog on sleep, for 6 more creative ways to prepare for a better more beneficial sleep. Reading a book before bed can help relax the mind and becomes a great substitute for a tablet or smartphone, which can actually make you stay awake for longer. A good book that is built into your routine helps the mind ready itself for a better sleep. Interestingly, this can be applied to children as well. Gateway researchers have found that children who sleep near a small screen or have used one before bed, are more likely to have a poorer night’s sleep than children who read before bedtime.

Take-Away Points

Take these points away and use reading to benefit your everyday life, enjoy reading for its benefits, not for approval.

  1. - Read every day before bed, even for a short amount of time.
  2. - Use reading to improve your brain’s functionality.
  3. - Reading improves vocabulary, comprehension skills and exam performance.
  4. - Reading can help improve sleep, pivotal for learning and brain development in children.
  5. - Exercise your mind for a healthier brain in later life (in the same way as you do your body).