health

5 reasons why reading makes you a happier person.

Those of us whose ideal night in involves an open fire, a giant glass of red and a good old page turner might not need to be told of the benefits of reading, but it turns out being a book worm can actually make you a happier person?

Yep, it’s true. Here are six ways that reading can help you with the smiles.

1. Better sleep

Studies have shown that people who have a regular bedtime routine which involves immersing themselves in a book enjoy a much better quality of sleep.

This is because our bodies respond well to routine and we’re better able to set appropriate circadian rhythms with a wind-down technique like reading. The Sleep Foundation recommends tweaking your bedroom environment to have low lighting. If you’ve got a good novel and a lamp – you’re sorted. (Post continues after gallery.)

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2. Lower stress levels

Research conducted by the University of Sussex indicates that reading is the best method for fast stress reduction and found that reading silently for only six minutes can reduce an individuals stress levels by up to 69 per cent.

This research compared reading to other methods of stress reduction such as listening to relaxing music (54 per cent reduction in stress) and taking a walk (42 per cent reduction in stress levels).

Reading = Less stress. Image via iStock
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 3. Higher self-esteem

In a 2006 study commissioned by Quick reads, researchers found that people who enjoyed just 30 minutes of reading per week were on average 20 per cent more satisfied with their lives and noted that their self-esteem was higher during periods where they engaged more with books.

Related: The simple trick that will make your work day 40% less stressful.

What the study found was that although reading was primarily a solitary activity, regular readers actually felt more engaged with others and less socially isolated which lead to higher feelings of self worth within their community and social circles.

4. Lower rates of depression

The act of reading has not only been shown to aid a persons overall feelings of contentment but can also be used to treat some forms of depression.

Related: The signs of depression we rarely notice. 

'Bibliotherapy' is a a form of therapy first discussed back in 1916 which says that the act of reading itself holds therapeutic benefits.

The idea is nothing new with the ancient Grecians widely believing in the healing powers of the written word, but these days we see the emergence of specialised Bibiotherapists whose role it is to guide people in choosing books to suit their individual situation.

5. Better social perception and empathy for others

Studies have also shown that the act of reading actually makes people feel more connected to others emotions and provides them with a better understanding of social cues. Not only that but readers felt better able to identify with other people and had a deeper understanding of what other individuals may be going through in their personal lives.

Reading can help you with a better understanding of other peoples feelings. Image: istock
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Dr Josie Billington who assisted with the research told Express UK that this is because people feel better about their own issues and are capable of greater empathy for others.

Related: The 7 signs of stress you're probably not aware of.

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How often do you sit down with a book?

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