Readers Sleep Better, Have Lower Stress, More Empathy, Says Study

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Curling up with a good book pays off BIG-TIME.

I've always prided myself on being an avid reader. When I was younger, I practically lived at the library; I'd read as many books as I could get my hands on and even carried around a "word journal" so I could record any fascinating and new word that I encountered.

Fellow bibliophiles will be excited to hear that all of those years we spent curling up with a good book every night are about to pay off in a huge way. 

The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently published a study that examined the correlation between sleep deprivation and readers who prefer printed books versus those who use an e-reader. The study found that reading on your iPad or smartphone disrupts your natural sleep patterns.

Researcher Dr. Annie-Marie Chang from Brigham and Women's Hospital's Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders says that "We found the body’s natural circadian rhythms were interrupted by the short-wavelength enriched light, otherwise known as blue light, from these electronic devices. Participants reading an LE-eBook took longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock and reduced next-morning alertness than when reading a printed book."

The Telegraph builds on this study's findings by saying that reading also reduces stress levels by a substantial 68 percent. 

Researchers analyzed the heart rate and stress levels of participants while they performed different activities such as exercise, reading, listening to music and playing video games, hoping to see how effective reading is as a relaxation method.

The results revealed that reading was the most rewarding method. Cognitive Neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis mentioned that "Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles, he found. In fact it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started."

In even greater news, science proves that bookworms are more empathetic than non-readers.

The New Yorker highlighted a study published in The Annual Review of Psychology which found that "when people read about an experience, they display stimulation within the same neurological regions as when they go through that experience themselves. We draw on the same brain networks when we’re reading stories and when we’re trying to guess at another person’s feelings."

The perks of being a lover of the printed word keep on getting better and better.


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