Most U.S. kids not meeting sleep, exercise and screen time targets

Share Button

Most U.S. kids not meeting sleep, exercise and screen time targets

By Lisa Rapaport

Just one in 20 U.S. children and teens gets the amount of sleep, exercise and screen time that doctors recommend for optimal health, a new study suggests.

Children and teens are supposed to get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day and limit screen time to less than two hours. Kids ages 6 to 12 old also need 9 to 12 hours of sleep, while teens need 8 to 10 hours nightly.

Too little sleep or exercise, or too much screen time, can increase their risk of chronic health problems. These include obesity, mental health issues like anxiety and depression, poor academic achievement and unhealthy behaviors like smoking and drinking, the study team notes in JAMA Pediatrics.

For the full article check it out here.

If you would like help as a teenager or with your teenager(s), please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk to one of our licensed life coaches of clinical counselors.

6 Mental Health Benefits of Plants

Share Button

6 Mental Health Benefits of Plants: Does Flower Power Boost Your Mood?

By Dr. Adam Simon

We all know that flowers and plants have the power to make people happy. They can delight you on a special occasion, cheer you up when you’re sad or make a dull, dreary room much more appealing.

But what is it about flowers that puts you in a good mood? And do they really have that much influence over your mental health?

Our smart network of UK doctors have shared a few facts for you to bear in mind next time you’re buying a bunch for your home, or for someone you care about.

1. Flowers can improve anxiety

Stress and anxiety are part of everyday life. According to mental health charity Mind, 6% of the UK population experienced anxiety issues in 2016.

While there are many things you can do to manage your mental health, flowers can help restore some short-term calm to your situation.

It turns out that this is true even in very worrying situations. A 2008 study found that hospital patients who had flowers in their room felt less anxious. They were also more positive about their recovery and needed less post-operative care than patients without plants.

Before you turn up at your loved one’s bedside with a huge bouquet, it’s worth noting that many hospitals don’t allow flowers on wards. This is due to issues such as mould, hay fever and lack of space.

However, there’s nothing to stop you filling your home and garden with beautiful blooms to take your mind off things.

Have some in your bedroom to create a calming environment when you go to sleep and when you wake up, or make space for a plant in your study to help you keep a handle on work-related stress.

2. Flowers can help you sleep

Sleeping properly is really important. In fact, it’s so important that we’ve already written a whole post about it. So, where do plants come into it?

When it comes to sleep, we’re going to focus on one flower in particular. The smell of lavender is proven to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, which will help you to relax. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to drift off into a restful sleep.

Obviously, lavender can’t cure insomnia on its own, but it can certainly help as part of your bedtime routine.

3. Flowers can improve your memory

Specifically, rosemary can sharpen your powers of recall.

In 2015, researchers conducted a very interesting experiment, in which participants went into one of three rooms and completed a memory test. One room smelt of rosemary, one of lavender and the other wasn’t given a specific scent.

Each participant had to look at a series of objects hidden around the room and remember them for later. The project tested the impact of different smells on ‘future memory’ – in other words, how much you remember to remember.

In real-life terms, this could be posting a letter you wrote yesterday, or paying your bills on time.

The people in the rosemary-scented room scored highest in this test. The lavender room scored significantly lower, presumably because the people here were far too relaxed and sleepy to keep up with everything!

4. Flowers can change your emotions with colours

We all associate colours with different moods. Red can mean love, anger or danger. Yellow is usually associated with happiness and sunshine. Blue can signify calm or sadness.

Green is linked to safety, which could explain why having lots of leafy plants around creates such a comfortable environment.

On top of this, we each have our own personal relationships with colours that can bring to mind a happy or sad memory and influence our reactions.

Suddenly, choosing the colour of your flowers becomes a bigger decision than you thought! Of course, it’s also a great chance to create a particular emotion or feeling in whoever will receive the flowers.

5. Flowers can make you more productive

Studies have shown that offices with plants increase brain performance and encourage creativity.

Sparse, clean offices might look impressive to people passing through, but they don’t offer any visual stimulation for those that have to spend all day there, which could have an impact on productivity.

It’s not just workers, either. Studies have also shown the putting plants in classrooms and lecture halls increases attendance. It turns out that having plants around can make you happier and more attentive, wherever you are!

Going back to the idea of colour, red is connected to concentration and attention to detail, while blue is considered a better way to encourage creativity and free-thinking. So, if you notice a lot of plants with the same colour around your office, your boss might be trying to tell you something!

6. Gardening and your mental health

Why wait for someone to present you with flowers, when you could grow your own? We know that flowers can make you feel great and there’s also evidence that gardening itself can be good for your mental health.

A 2015 study found that 88% of people cited mental wellbeing as a reason for heading out into the garden. All that digging, planting and pruning provides fresh air and a sense of achievement.

Some people find value in having something to care for that relies on them to survive. Gardening is also an activity you can do as a group, such as tending a community garden, and spending time with friends and family is a sure-fire way to boost your mood.

If you would like more help in boosting your mood, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

The Importance of Sleep When Dealing With Bipolar Disorder

Share Button

Bed

Putting the Reins on Your Active Brain 

By Melvin G. McInnis, MD

How important is sleep, really, if my brain seems to be telling me I don’t need it?

Sleep is critical for a healthy balance in the brain and emotions. As many people living with bipolar know all too well, the sense of a lack of need for sleep is often the first sign of a manic or hypomanic episode. When your brain is telling you that you don’t need sleep, there is something wrong, or about to go wrong—and potentially in a dangerous way. Most individuals with bipolar have learned that a manic or hypomanic episode can be devastating for one’s personal, social, and work life. Recognizing dramatic changes in the urge to sleep (whether too little or too much) can help prevent the onset of full-blown episodes.

How can I “repair” my disrupted sleep to make things more regular and help improve my symptoms?

Strategies for repairing disrupted sleep depend on the severity of disturbance. Anyone who is totally unable to sleep should seek medical help immediately, either from your usual health-care provider or from emergency services. Be sure to discuss all sleep disturbances with your regular provider to develop short- and long-term strategies to manage them.

Emerging sleep difficulties could indicate that the illness is not properly managed and that medications are not at optimal doses. Your care provider may want to check levels of meds or increase doses and evaluate the results of the changes. If the medications are at the maximum dose, or the side effects of the medications are at the maximum level of tolerance, the clinician will review and discuss additional options. If your care provider has tried a number of options without success, it can be helpful to seek a consultation with a different provider.

Not all sleep difficulties require medical changes or specific interventions. There are a number of self-care strategies to manage sleep and energy. Although sticking to a consistent sleep schedule can be incredibly difficult for someone with bipolar, the importance of a regular routine is tantamount. Ensuring that bedtimes, waking times, and the evening meal follow a regular schedule will help tremendously.

For those with bipolar, often the challenge is dealing with the amount of energy that can escalate in the late evening. The urgency for tasks—anything from a term paper to housecleaning—becomes compelling, and before you know it, it is 3 a.m. Developing a successful winding-down routine in the evening to prepare for sleep is necessary. A calming activity, such as an hour of reading or playing a mundane board game, can be very helpful. Taking evening medication at a planned time in consultation with your care provider (usually an hour or two before the agreed bedtime) is also key. A calm, steady routine is so very helpful when dealing with an illness that has the potential to cause life-threatening instability.

Better sleep and a healthy routine help your energy level over time and contribute significantly to maintaining wellness and preventing episodes of mania and depression. Engaging a family member or friend in your routine and sharing your plans for stability with your care provider will add additional links in the wellness chain.

—————————————

If you or a loved one is struggling with Bipolar Disorder and would like help, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Sleep and Mood

Share Button

Sleep and Mood

By Harvard Medical School

sleepPoor sleep harms concentration.

You probably know firsthand that sleep affects mood. After a sleepless night, you may be more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress. Once you sleep well, your mood often returns to normal.

Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.1

Not only does sleep affect mood, but mood and mental states can also affect sleep. Anxiety increases agitation and arousal, which make it hard to sleep. Stress also affects sleep by making the body aroused, awake, and alert. People who are under constant stress or who have abnormally exaggerated responses to stress tend to have sleep problems.

Insomnia and Psychological Problems

“There’s a big relationship between psychiatric and psychological problems and sleep. So people who are depressed or have anxiety often have trouble with sleep as part of those disorders,” says Dr. Lawrence Epstein, Medical Director of Sleep Health Centers and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Difficulty sleeping is sometimes the first symptom of depression. Studies have found that 15 to 20 percent of people diagnosed with insomnia will develop major depression.2 While sleep research is still exploring the relationship between depression and sleep, studies have shown that depressed people may have abnormal sleep patterns.3

Sleep problems may, in turn, contribute to psychological problems. For example, chronic insomnia may increase an individual’s risk of developing a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety. In one major study of 10,000 adults, people with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression.4 Lack of sleep can be an even greater risk factor for anxiety. In the same study, people with insomnia were 20 times more likely to develop panic disorder (a type of anxiety disorder).5 Another study showed that insomnia is a reliable predictor of depression and many other psychiatric disorders, including all types of anxiety disorders. Insomnia can be helped through simple measures like putting white noise on in the background and getting a memory foam mattress.6

Addressing Sleep Problems Makes a Difference

If you sleep poorly and feel depressed, anxious, or less emotionally responsive, there are many treatments that can help. First, look at your sleep habits and see if there are steps that you can take on your own to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. See Adopt Good Sleep Habits for tips on how to improve your sleep. If problems persist, you may wish to see a medical provider and ask about an evaluation for sleep problems and mental health concerns. After an evaluation and diagnosis, your provider can advise you on the best course of treatment. Options may include behavioral or other forms of therapy and/or medications. You can read about and watch a video of a behavioral sleep consultation in the Healthy Sleep module.

Even if you do not have underlying sleep problems, taking steps to ensure adequate sleep will lead to improved mood and well-being. Sheila, a Boston district attorney and mother, became sleep deprived due to the conflicting demands of a full-time job and caring for her young children. She began to feel cranky, irritable, and uncharacteristically depressed. When she got both of her children on a consistent sleep schedule, she herself started sleeping an average of seven to eight hours a night and her mood improved considerably. Read more and watch a video about this in Sheila’s Balancing Act.

Sleep Lessons From A Landmark British Sleep Report

Share Button

sleep

13 Sleep Lessons From A Landmark British Sleep Report

By Sarah DiGiulio

A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep. And now, a British report finds that no one is faring any better across the Atlantic. There are many websites online educating everyone on how to get a good nights sleep in bed, The Better You suggest that sleeping properly is so powerful that it can actually affect your weight! We suggest you looking at various websites in order to get the truest facts!

According to the Royal Society for Public Health — one of the world’s oldest health education organizations — Britons may be missing out on as much as a full night of sleep each week, on average.

“We do need to wake up to the benefits of sleep,” said Shirley Cramer, chief executive of RSPH, in a news release. “Poor sleep and sleep disorders impact on our ability to lead a healthy lifestyle… Our research shows there is a yawning gap in how much sleep the public are getting compared to how much they need.”

Along with calculating the extent of the United Kingdom’s sleep deficit, the report reviewed high-quality evidence on why our bodies need sleep, how sleep affects health and well-being (from cancer risk to mental health to behavior), which groups are most at-risk for poor sleep and types of sleep disorders.

And with the research mounting to show good sleep is essential for better health and preventing chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and depression, the conclusions from this report ring true well beyond the borders of the U.K.

We pulled the top 13 key facts, figures and recommendations from the report for some extra motivation to get to bed on time:

1. Sleep Is the Second Most Common Health Complaint After Pain

Studies have shown that as many as four in 10 people in the U.K. aren’t getting enough sleep, and one in five sleep poorly most nights, according to the report — making sleep the second most common health complaint after pain.
2. Poor Sleep Habits Make For Poor Heart Health
The report pointed out that consistent poor sleep has been linked to increased risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, and death (from any cause) in several studies. Researchers think prolonged routines of short sleep may raise 24-hour blood pressure, heart rate, salt retention, and activity of the sympathetic nervous system (what controls the body’s fight-or-flight response), all of which can lead to hypertension.
3. People Consider Good Sleep One of the Healthiest Things You Can Do
“The public ranked sleep the second most important activity for health and wellbeing — behind not smoking,” according to a poll of 2,000 U.K. adults RSPH conducted this year for this report.
4. Bad Sleep Makes It Harder To Quit Smoking
Skimping on sleep may make it tougher for a smoker to ditch the habit by impairing attention and cognition, changing cravings, affecting mood or increasing the reward value of cigarettes, according to several previous studies cited in the report.
5. Disruptive Sleep Patterns Increase Cancer Risk
The report noted that the evidence connecting shift work, disrupted sleep and cancer risk led the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer to issue this warning: “Shift work involving circadian disruption is probably carcinogenic in humans.”
6. Not Getting Enough Sleep Can Have the Same Effect As Being Drunk
Research has found that after 17 hours without sleep alertness and wakefulness is similar to the effects of a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent — after 24 hours of not sleeping, about the equivalent of a BAC of 0.1 percent, according to the report.
7. Americans Are Pretty Bad At Sleeping, Too…
As many as 50 to 70 million adults in the U.S. have a chronic sleep disorder, and one in three adults are sleeping less than seven hours per night, according to reports from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is paramount that you are aware of the Hours Of Sleep Needed to ensure you’re looking after your mental health. The British report blamed the “crave more, work more and expect more” attitude of Western culture.
8. Being Tied To Technology Is Keeping Kids Awake
Citing a troubling find in the U.S., the U.K. report noted that young people’s lifestyle affects their sleeping patterns. Adolescents with more than four electronic devices in their rooms were significantly more likely to report not clocking adequate sleep on the weekdays and weekends compared with kids who had three or fewer devices in their rooms, according to a 2006 survey of Americans conducted by the National Sleep Foundation.
9. The British Minister Of Public Health Should Make Sleep A Priority
It’s time for the government to take a stand for better sleep, the report says. “The Minister for Public Health has responsibility for a large number of important public health issues such as physical activity, sexual health and obesity. There is a wealth of evidence that shows sleep is another equally important component of health protection and improvement. Its value to the health and wellbeing of the population means that sleep should have parity with other public health issues and should be officially recognized in the remit of a government minister.”
10. Primary Care Docs Should Help Teach Better Sleep Habits
Doctors and primary care providers have a role to play in educating the public on good sleep health, too, the report says. “Sleep should be embedded in all primary health care training and should be assessed as part of all routine assessments.”
11. Employers Should Promote Work Policies That Foster Good Sleep
With more evidence of shift work being tied to disrupted sleep and the dangers of sleep deprivation that comes from working too many hours, employers, too, have a role in promoting better sleep, according to the report. “Employers have a legal duty to make sure reasonable measures are in place to remove or control the risks of work activities, including hours worked and how they are scheduled.”
12. Kids Should Be Taught Good Sleep Practices In School
13. Starting Good Sleep Young Is Key
Starting good sleep habits young is of the utmost priority, the report says. Reducing levels of sleep deprivation among adolescents should be a key public health priority,as it impacts on a range of other health outcomes for young people into their adult lives, and so research in this area is of the highest importance.”
****************
For more on how healthy sleep patterns can positively benefit your mental health, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Screens May Be Terrible for You, and Now We Know Why

Share Button

screens

Screens May Be Terrible for You, and Now We Know Why

By Brandon Keim

For more than 3 billion years, life on Earth was governed by the cyclical light of sun, moon and stars. Then along came electric light, turning night into day at the flick of a switch. Our bodies and brains may not have been ready.

A fast-growing body of research has linked artificial light exposure to disruptions in circadian rhythms, the light-triggered releases of hormones that regulate bodily function. Circadian disruption has in turn been linked to a host of health problems, from cancer to diabetes, obesity and depression. “Everything changed with electricity. Now we can have bright light in the middle of night. And that changes our circadian physiology almost immediately,” says Richard Stevens, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Connecticut. “What we don’t know, and what so many people are interested in, are the effects of having that light chronically.”

Stevens, one of the field’s most prominent researchers, reviews the literature on light exposure and human health the latest Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. The new article comes nearly two decades after Stevens first sounded the alarm about light exposure possibly causing harm; writing in 1996, he said the evidence was “sparse but provocative.” Since then, nighttime light has become even more ubiquitous: an estimated 95 percent of Americans regularly use screens shortly before going to sleep, and incandescent bulbs have been mostly replaced by LED and compact fluorescent lights that emit light in potentially more problematic wavelengths. Meanwhile, the scientific evidence is still provocative, but no longer sparse.

As Stevens says in the new article, researchers now know that increased nighttime light exposure tracks with increased rates of breast cancer, obesity and depression. Correlation isn’t causation, of course, and it’s easy to imagine all the ways researchers might mistake those findings. The easy availability of electric lighting almost certainly tracks with various disease-causing factors: bad diets, sedentary lifestyles, exposure to they array of chemicals that come along with modernity. Oil refineries and aluminum smelters, to be hyperbolic, also blaze with light at night.

Yet biology at least supports some of the correlations. The circadian system synchronizes physiological function—from digestion to body temperature, cell repair and immune system activity—with a 24-hour cycle of light and dark. Even photosynthetic bacteria thought to resemble Earth’s earliest life forms have circadian rhythms. Despite its ubiquity, though, scientists discovered only in the last decade what triggers circadian activity in mammals: specialized cells in the retina, the light-sensing part of the eye, rather than conveying visual detail from eye to brain, simply signal the presence or absence of light. Activity in these cells sets off a reaction that calibrates clocks in every cell and tissue in a body. Now, these cells are especially sensitive to blue wavelengths—like those in a daytime sky.

But artificial lights, particularly LCDs, some LEDs, and fluorescent bulbs, also favor the blue side of the spectrum. So even a brief exposure to dim artificial light can trick a night-subdued circadian system into behaving as though day has arrived. Circadian disruption in turn produces a wealth of downstream effects, including dysregulation of key hormones. “Circadian rhythm is being tied to so many important functions,” says Joseph Takahashi, a neurobiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern. “We’re just beginning to discover all the molecular pathways that this gene network regulates. It’s not just the sleep-wake cycle. There are system-wide, drastic changes.” His lab has found that tweaking a key circadian clock gene in mice gives them diabetes. And a tour-de-force 2009 study put human volunteers on a 28-hour day-night cycle, then measured what happened to their endocrine, metabolic and cardiovascular systems.

Crucially, that experiment investigated circadian disruption induced by sleep alteration rather than light exposure, which is also the case with the many studies linking clock-scrambling shift work to health problems. Whether artificial light is as problematic as disturbed sleep patterns remains unknown, but Stevens thinks that some and perhaps much of what’s now assumed to result from sleep issues is actually a function of light. “You can wake up in the middle of the night and your melatonin levels don’t change,” he says. “But if you turn on a light, melatonin starts falling immediately. We need darkness.” According to Stevens, most people live in a sort of “circadian fog.”

Just how much health risk can be attributed to artificial light rather than sleep disruption? If breast cancer rates jump 30 percent in women who work at night, and prostate cancer rates nearly triple in men, what proportion of that circadian disruption comes from artificial light rather than sleep cycle problems? And just how much blue light must be absorbed before things get risky: a few minutes a night or a few hours, a few years or a few decades? These are now pressing research questions, yet it may be difficult to know for sure, says Stevens. Conclusively settling the matter would likely require studies both rigorously controlled and terribly unethical. In the meantime, it might make sense to let a little nighttime back into your life.

 

How To Recover From a Sleepless Night

Share Button

Woman waking up

It is beyond question that a lack of sleep impacts a person mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  At some point in our lives we will likely experience a night of no sleep, interrupted sleep, or little sleep.  What is the best way to cope and function after such a restless night?

Take a look at this video for some tips on recovering from a sleepless night:

15 Biggest Reasons For Sleep Deprivation

Share Button

15 Biggest Reasons For Sleep Deprivation

By Dr. Daniel Amen

Sleep deprivationIn our hectic, 24-7 society, we could easily ask “what doesn’t cause sleep deprivation?” There are a seemingly endless number of reasons why millions of us are missing out on a good night’s sleep. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep has been associated with lower overall brain activity, which affects mood, focus, productivity, weight, health, and physical safety. According to the 2009 Sleep in America Poll, Americans are averaging only 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep each night, then squeeze in an average of 27 minutes of extra sleep on the weekends.Even more disturbing, the percentage of people getting less than 6 hours of sleep has risen from 12% in 1998 to 20% in 2009 – while the percentage of Americans getting a good 8 hours a night has decreased from 35% in 1998 to 28% in 2009. The numbers reveal that getting a good night’s sleep is becoming little more than an elusive dream for many Americans. Chronic sleep problems affect millions of us. Temporary sleep issues are even more common and will affect almost every one of us at some point in our lifetime. Here are a few of the most common reasons for sleep deprivation:

  1. Medications: Many medications including asthma medications, antihistamines, cough medicines, anticonvulsants, and many others disturb sleep.
  2. Caffeine: Too much caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate, or some herbal preparations — especially when consumed later in the day or at night — can disrupt sleep.
  3. Alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana: Although these compounds initially induce sleepiness for some people, they have the reverse effect as they wear off, which is why you may wake up several hours after you go to sleep.
  4. Restless Legs Syndrome: A nighttime jerking or pedaling motion of the legs that drives a person’s bed partner crazy (as well as the person who has it).
  5. Women’s issues: Pregnancy, PMS, menopause, and perimenopause cause fluctuations in hormone levels that can disrupt the sleep cycle.
  6. Chronic pain conditions.
  7. Untreated or undertreated psychiatric conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, or anxiety.
  8. Alzheimer’s disease: Dementia patients “sundown” or rev up at night and wander.
  9. Chronic gastrointestinal problems, such as reflux.
  10. Men’s issues: Benign prostatic hypertrophy causes many trips to the bathroom at night, which interrupts slumber.
  11. Snoring: Snoring can wake you or your sleep mate, or everyone in the house if it is really loud.
  12. Sleep apnea: With this condition, you stop breathing for short periods of time throughout the night, which robs you of restful sleep and leaves you feeling sluggish, inattentive, and forgetful throughout the day.
  13. Shift work: Nurses, firefighters, security personnel, customer service representatives, truck drivers, airline pilots, and many others toil by night and sleep by day. Or, at least, they try to sleep. Shift workers are especially vulnerable to irregular sleep patterns, which leads to excessive sleepiness, reduced productivity, irritability, and mood problems.
  14. Stressful events: The death of a loved one, divorce, a major deadline at work, or an upcoming test can cause temporary sleep loss.
  15. Jet lag: International travel across time zones wreaks havoc with sleep cycles.

Want Help Sleeping? Put Down That Bedtime Snack!

Share Button

food sleepSometimes we like to grab that extra glass of water or a bedtime snack to try to help us relax and go to sleep at night.  But is it really helpful or could it actually be enhancing your sleeping struggles?

The Mayo Clinic has the following suggestions regarding helping yourself get to sleep:

1) Avoid large, high fat meals late in the day.  Eating a large meal, especially one that is high in fat, will contribute to your sleeping woes.

2) Avoid caffeine in the last few hours of the evening.  It can take a few hours for the caffeine to be out of your system, so avoid that last minute cup of caffeinated tea or coffee.

3) Avoid alcohol before bed.  While you may feel sleepy due to the effects of alcohol, it will prevent you from entering into a deep sleep and may cause you to wake up during the night.

4) Avoid excessive fluids before bed.  Some little kids drink a lot of water on Christmas Eve to wake up to catch a glimpse of Santa (because they have to pee).  The results are the same on adults.

5) Have a healthy lifestyle.  Eating a proper diet, including fruits, vegetables, and nuts, plus regular exercise will help keep you healthy which will in turn help with your sleeping.

Great News for Those Reading Non-Digital Books

Share Button

If you struggle with memory or comprehension, reading is a great mental exercise to strengthen those faculties.

As we are more and more submerged in the digital age, and as more people are starting to read books and news via the internet or a digital reading device, the question arises, “Is reading a digital book as helpful as reading an actual physical book?”

There have been arguments about the benefits of both categories, but now there has been a scientific study showing that holding a real, physical, non-digital book in your hands is better for you in the areas of stress, empathy, and sleep.  The article below explains the study.

Open Book Reading

Science Has Great News for People Who Read Actual Books

By Rachel Grate

‘s no secret that reading is good for you. Just six minutes of reading is enough to reduce stress by 68%, and numerous studies have shown that reading keeps your brain functioning effectively as you age. One study even found that elderly individuals who read regularly are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than their peers. But not all forms of reading are created equal.

The debate between paper books and e-readers has been vicious since the first Kindle came out in 2007. Most arguments have been about the sentimental versus the practical, between people who prefer how paper pages feel in their hands and people who argue for the practicality of e-readers. But now science has weighed in, and the studies are on the side of paper books. 

Reading in print helps with comprehension. 

A 2014 study found that readers of a short mystery story on a Kindle were significantly worse at remembering the order of events than those who read the same story in paperback. Lead researcher Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University concluded that “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does.”

Our brains were not designed for reading, but have adapted and created new circuits to understand letters and texts. The brain reads by constructing a mental representation of the text based on the placement of the page in the book and the word on the page. 

The tactile experience of a book aids this process, from the thickness of the pages in your hands as you progress through the story to the placement of a word on the page. Mangen hypothesizes that the difference for Kindle readers “might have something to do with the fact that the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you’re reading.”

While e-readers try to recreate the sensation of turning pages and pagination, the screen is limited to one ephemeral virtual page. Surveys about the use of e-readers suggest that this affects a reader’s serendipity and sense of control. The inability to flip back to previous pages or control the text physically, either through making written notes or bending pages, limits one’s sensory experience and thus reduces long-term memory of the text. 

Reading long sentences without links is a skill you need — but can lose if you don’t practice. 

Reading long, literary sentences sans links and distractions is actually a serious skill that you lose if you don’t use it. Before the Internet, the brain read in a linear fashion, taking advantage of sensory details to remember where key information was in the book by layout. 

As we increasingly read on screens, our reading habits have adapted to skim text rather than really absorb the meaning. A 2006 study found that people read on screens in an “F” pattern, reading the entire top line but then only scanning through the text along the left side of the page. This sort of nonlinear reading reduces comprehension and actually makes it more difficult to focus the next time you sit down with a longer piece of text.

Tufts University neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf worries that “the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing.” Individuals are increasingly finding it difficult to sit down and immerse themselves in a novel. As a result, some researchers and literature-lovers have started a “slow reading” movement, as a way to counteract their difficulty making it through a book. 

Reading in a slow, focused, undistracted way is good for your brain.

Slow-reading advocates recommend at least 30 to 45 minutes of daily reading away from the distractions of modern technology. By doing so, the brain can reengage with linear reading. The benefits of making slow reading a regular habit are numerous, reducing stress and improving your ability to concentrate. 

Regular reading also increases empathy, especially when reading a print book. One study discovered that individuals who read an upsetting short story on an iPad were less empathetic and experienced less transportation and immersion than those who read on paper. 

Reading an old-fashioned novel is also linked to improving sleep. When many of us spend our days in front of screens, it can be hard to signal to our body that it’s time to sleep. By reading a paper book about an hour before bed, your brain enters a new zone, distinct from that enacted by reading on an e-reader. 

Three-quarters of Americans 18 and older report reading at least one book in the past year, a number which has fallen, and e-books currently make up between 15 to 20% of all book sales. In this increasingly Twitter- and TV-centric world, it’s the regular readers, the ones who take a break from technology to pick up a paper book, who have a serious advantage on the rest of us.