Reading can make your brain more fit. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia used functional MRI’s to see how reading affects brains. They found that engaging in a good book will fire up not only the language centres of the brain but the sensory areas as well. And it will stay activated as an “afterburn” for up to a day or more afterwards. Sensory activation was an unexpected outcome and the conclusion was that the imagination mimics what the brain is reading. So if you’re reading a high action adventure, your brain “feels” what the character is doing and you are vicariously living through the book.
Research conducted in 2009 at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex showed that reading relaxes the body and brain faster than listening to soothing music. Other research has pointed to reading as one of the key activities that can help stave off Alzheimer’s and senile dementia.
A common phenomenon in our culture is to gather our information from audio/visual mediums. In an age of the internet and massive repositories of videos (e.g.: Youtube) people are reading less and less. Screen time is replacing study time.
Unfortunately, passively gathering information from audio/visual sources does not work the brain as well. In fact, it places it in a state that is less active than sleep. It is essentially a brain-numbing activity.
Furthermore, research is showing that screen time in bed works against good sleep. Staring into a light source actually tricks the body’s circadian rhythm into believing it’s time to wake up, so your brain is being woken up just when you should be winding it down. Reading at bedtime will expose your true fatigue and will put you to sleep at the appropriate time and will not disturb your sleep.
Reading also is known to stimulate creativity and memory skills. Not to mention getting all the overall cognitive improvements that result when you regularly give your brain a workout.
Whether you love fiction or non-fiction (or both) adding a good 15 to 30 minutes of reading into your day can have a powerful impact on your mental health.