Are you on the fence about starting a new reading habit and wondering what it can actually do for you? Many of us truly believe we don’t have the time in our day to start a new habit like consistently reading every day. When we think of reading, sometimes we tend to picture curling up with a book on a weekend and binge reading for long periods of time. But the good news is that reading doesn’t have to be time consuming to be part of your daily routine. It’s all about consistency. A person who reads at an average pace for 30 minutes every day will get through 33 books in a year. Here are some benefits of reading 30 minutes a day.

1. It can increase empathy. 

We think of reading as only improving our lives, but studies suggest it can improve the lives of those around us. This is because the research showed people who read literary fiction have an easier time relating to others, understanding emotions and sense them in those around them. So, taking yourself out of your own life for just 30 minutes can actually make you more tuned in to the lives of others . 

2. It’s a stress reliever. 

Everyone has their favorite way to relieve stress. Maybe it’s going for a walk, meditating or doing yoga. A 2009 study found that reading for 30 minutes a day has those same benefits when it comes to stress relief. It reduced cortisol levels in similar amounts as 30 minutes of doing low-intensity yoga. This means blocking out a half hour at the end of the day can take your mind off of whatever happened during the rest of it.

3. It can help you sleep better. 

This one’s only the case for paper books and audiobooks – no Kindle or e-readers. This is because many of us like to use our devices up until bedtime, whether it’s scrolling through Instagram, texting a loved one or watching a movie. But the blue light emitted by these devices throws off our biological clock and suppresses melatonin production, meaning it’s harder to fall asleep and stay in a restful sleep. Reading a book for 30 minutes before bedtime is a great transition period to stay off your phone and wind down for the night. 

4. Reading 30 minutes a day strengthens your brain.

A broad variety of research studies show that sleep can quite literally change your brain. When brain scans are taken after consistent reading for only 10 days, brain connectivity increases. This was especially true in the somatosensory cortex, the part of the brain that senses movement. The brain was more active and stronger due to the way reading affects it. 

Similar to scheduling a workout in your day, less is often more. You don’t need to run a half marathon every day to see improvements in your fitness, just like you don’t need to finish a book in a night to see the benefits of reading. Schedule 30 minutes a day, and know you’re doing something great for yourself, your mental health, your sleep schedule, and even your loved ones.