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Reading a story to your child at bedtime has many health benefits – physical, mental, and emotional. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your child’s heart, weight, mind, and more.

Some of the health problems researchers have discovered associated with a lack of adequate sleep are:

  • Children between the ages of 10 and 16 with sleep problems are more likely to have problems with attention and learning.
  • Children lacking sleep may exhibit ADHD-like symptoms.
  • Children who lack sleep tend to be hyperactive, and can also be inattentive and impulsive.

Physical Benefits of Reading a Bedtime Story

The routine of sharing bedtime story with your child each night will help your child relax and go to sleep. Studies have shown the importance of a relaxing, restful, night’s sleep to help a child’s physical development.

Books actually grow brain cells. Researchers found that struggling readers have fewer cells in some regions of the brain. However, after six months of daily reading, the weak spots improved so much that the struggling readers’ brains looked the same as those with the stronger reading skills.

Emotional Benefits of Reading a Bedtime Story

Your child experiences different emotions empathizing with the main character in the story. Being exposed to happiness, sadness, and anger helps your child realize that these emotions are natural. The result is an increased ability to accept and control their own emotional responses.

Many children’s stories are about solving a problem for the character, or about a difficulty that must be overcome. Most children’s stories have a happy ending. Therefore, your child learns about life’s challenges in a subtle and gentle way.

A good night’s sleep reduces stress. An important part of your child’s development is learning how to cope with stress causers, such as a new baby, moving to a new school, or being bullied. When a child is stressed, their body produces the hormone cortisol, which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. If you child has too much cortisol, the resultant stress can affect your child’s sleep and learning. Snuggling up with a parent and reading a favourite story actually reduces stress, which leads to a good night’s sleep.

Bedtime Story

Mental Benefits of Reading a Bedtime Story

Studies have shown that reading a bedtime story helps develop cognitive skills. Some of the cognitive benefits of reading aloud include:

  • Listening to a story develops a child’s imaginations and creativity.
  • Following the complexities of a plot facilitates logical thinking and problem solving skills.
  • Reading aloud has been shown to increase cognitive ability and IQ scores.
  • Reading promotes longer attention span, an important skill for your child to be able to concentrate.
  • Reading builds listening skills.

Regular bedtime reading contributes to the predictability and routine of your child’s bedtime. If your child knows that every evening they will share a bedtime story, they feel secure. This feeling of security is part of why a bedtime story is healthy for your child. The multiple health benefits of reading a bedtime story makes it an imperative to add reading to your child’s bedtime routine.

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