It’s not because a boring book will have you nodding off soon enough. It’s because it helps you put your consciousness on another plane. In other words, reading makes you forget your own worries because it takes you into another world. It’s even better than music or taking a walk.
You don’t even have to read the whole book. (although those of us who have one of those page turners will know how hard it is to put that book down!) Research has shown it only takes six minutes of reading to get the benefits, such as easing of tension in your muscles and your heart.
As well as getting a restful sleep, reading can also help reduce stress levels, which is another bonus.
However, if you think reading your way through a series of Facebook posts is going to help you, think again. There’s also research out there that shows using technology before bedtime compromises your sleep, and also less alert the next day. Part of the problem is the light from the screen, but it also has to do with the content. Even scrolling through your phone keeps your mind alert as you look for something of interest.
Reading an e-reader can be just as bad, due to the light from the screen. If that’s your preferred reading method, make sure you turn down the brightness, or even better, reverse the text so you have a black screen with white writing.
And why is a good sleep important? Poor sleep has been linked with an increased risk of developing anxiety, depression, weight gain, reduced immunity, high blood pressure and heart disease.
It seems we were onto a good thing when reading bedtime stories to the kids all those years ago. We just need to keep doing it for ourselves.
This article originally appeared on Starts at 60.