Ellen Scharaga contributes to Alegria Specialty Pharmacy’s mission of innovating drugs for conditions ranging from HIV/AIDS to arthritis. In her spare time, Ellen Scharaga enjoys reading a good book.
Science has discovered multiple physical and psychological benefits to reading. These include:
- Stress relief. Stress plays a major role in poor health, and but reading can help. A British study found that reading reduced stress levels by up to 68 percent, which is better than walking or listening to music. Even reading for as little as 6 minutes slows the pulse and alleviates tense muscles.
- Staving off cognitive decline. People who read (or write) tend to have less of the physical brain damage that leads to dementia. Furthermore, reading builds what researchers call cognitive reserve—the ability of the brain to recover from strokes and other damage. This is due in part to the large vocabulary of avid bookworms. And in all phases of life, reading has been shown to boost intelligence.
- Sleeping better. The old habit of reading at bedtime has been proven to help people move from wakefulness to drowsiness. In contrast, the modern habit of using a smartphone before bed actually interferes with the quality and duration of sleep.
- Enhanced social skills. Books, and especially fiction, lead to higher levels of empathy because they expose readers to the thoughts and feelings of others. This in turn improves one’s personal relationships.
- Longevity. Although the precise mechanism is not yet known, reading appears to increase one’s lifespan. A 2019 Yale University study found that people who read more than 3.5 hours per week were 23 percent less likely than non-readers to die during a 12-year study period.