In this series, we will explore the relationship between health and music. To kick this off, we want to highlight three ways listening to music can positively impact mental, emotional and physical health.
Listening to Music Reduces Stress.
Listening to music can trigger feelings of calm, happiness and exhilaration while stimulating dopamine production throughout the body and bringing stress levels down. All of this works to shift the body from a state of stress to a state of relaxation and calm. It is no coincidence that spas, medical offices and even elevators have music playing in the background. Even when it’s a sad song, music has a way of resonating with our souls and providing a sense of connection and relief.
“Current findings indicate that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing alpha brainwaves (frequencies from 8 – 14 hertz or cycles per second). This alpha brainwave is what is present when we are relaxed and conscious. To induce sleep (a delta brainwave of 5 hertz), a person may need to devote at least 45 minutes, in a relaxed position, listening to calming music. Researchers at Stanford University have said that ‘listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.’ They noted that music is something that almost anybody can access and makes it an easy stress reduction tool.” –University of Nevada
So if you are finding yourself tense, under pressure or having trouble falling asleep, listening to music is a proven effective way to reduce your tension.
Listening to Music Improves Memory Skills.
Have you every noticed that when you hear a certain song it instantly brings you back to your grandmother’s kitchen, a messy break up with an ex or a seemingly random tidbit? This is the power of music! Music has a profound impact on the mind and emotions which together produces a powerful memory triggering effect.
“This ability of music to conjure up vivid memories is a phenomenon well known to brain researchers. It can trigger intense recollections from years past — for many, more strongly than other senses such as taste and smell — and provoke strong emotions from those earlier experiences.” -The Washington Post.
There have even been cases of music helping patients with dementia and memory loss improve their cognitive abilities. In many cases, people with memory loss will remember songs more readily than friends and family.
“Music evokes emotions and memories, which is why musical intervention has therapeutic benefits for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Musical interventions have been shown to decrease a patient’s agitation and improve communication and caregiver relationships.” -Northwestern Medicine
Listening to Music Reduces Pain
While it is true, that distraction is a powerful means of reducing pain, when it come to listening to music, something more is at work. The release of endorphins prompted by the enjoyment of music is an effective means to reduce pain.
“Recent studies have discovered that those with chronic pain such as fibromyalgia can decrease the chronic pain they feel by listening to music that they enjoy. By hearing music you know and love, you can experience relief without the help from medication or doctor visits. This phenomenon can mostly be tied to how music affects your brain when you hear it. Listening to music you like releases opioids in the brain that soon spread throughout your body. This natural pain reliever reduces the feeling of pain while you enjoy the music. Not only does this technique help fight pain, it also reduces depression and anxiety, which are also two causes of chronic pain.” (Advanced Pain Management)