More than 7 billion people worldwide listen to music, with an average person hearing around 1.3 million songs over their lifetime. Music is the core of its own industry and has a crucial role in several other areas, ranging from movies to fitness to pedagogy.
While we mainly value music for its entertainment and motivational value, it also provides numerous health benefits. Let’s explore how music can boost your well-being.
Music can Improve your Mood
Often, we listen to music when we are trying to evoke a specific feeling. That’s because music has a natural influence on our mood. This ranges from lifting us up when we are down to calming us down when we are stressed.
Music has been known to increase the level of dopamine in our brains. This neurotransmitter is associated with increased happiness and pleasure. Another important factor to consider is that music is directly processed by our amygdala, the part of our brain which is involved in emotions and moods.
If you’re feeling sad, putting an upbeat tune on can be a great way to lift your spirit and inject some much-needed positivity into your soul.
The same goes for practicing music. If you’re not feeling particularly happy, singing or playing the guitar may be the best way to put a smile back on your face. It’s not a coincidence that we tend to sing or whistle naturally when we are feeling especially cheerful.
Music can act as a Stress Relief
Another great benefit of music is its ability to reduce our level of cortisol, a hormone that is associated with stress and anxiety.
Listening to a tune with a slow tempo can be particularly effective when trying to relax after a stressful day or episode. This has been confirmed by research. When you listen to music around 60 beats per minute, your brain will synchronize with the beat, thus causing alpha brain waves, which are typically associated with a state of relaxation.
Some of the most effective types of music when aiming for relaxation are Native American and Celtic stringed instruments and flutes, as well as light jazz and classical music.
Personal preferences also play an important role in determining the type of music that will have the most relaxing effect on you. Experiment with different genres and songs until you find the one that is most effective when trying to relieve some stress.
One great tip is to use soothing music in combination with other relaxing activities like going to the spa or spending time in some quiet natural location.
Music can Increase Energy
Music can also have an energizing effect. By releasing endorphins, it can generate a strong feeling of excitement. In a very interesting study, researchers found out cyclists managed to bike a further distance when listening to fast music. Increasing the tempo also had a positive effect on the power produced by each pedal stroke as well as the pedal cadence.
Music can Increase Mental alertness and Improve Cognitive Performance
Listening to uplifting music can positively impact mental alertness, cognitive performance, and concentration. According to researchers, this is due to music’s ability to slow heart and respiration rates.
Studies also show that exposure to music can improve attention and alertness.
Researchers had three groups of participants listening to four different music genres: lo-fi, jazz, and piano music. They were then compared to a control group of people who didn’t listen to any music.
The duration of the study was three days, during which sustained attention, acute attention, and heart rate variability was measured. Results showed that those who listened to music (regardless of the genre) had better performances than those who didn’t. Moreover, a follow-up test conducted three weeks later showed that the participants who listened to music had faster reaction times than the control group.
Music can Increase Sleep Quality
For centuries, mothers have sung lullabies to their babies and children to help them fall asleep. Nowadays, we also have scientific evidence that listening to music before going to bed can not only increase the time it takes for you to close your eyes but also increase the quality of your sleep.
As we mentioned earlier, music can increase the level of cortisol, which helps us relax, thus making it easier to fall asleep. Moreover, music can soothe the autonomic nervous system, which affects our body’s automatic and unconscious processes, such as those involving the lungs and the heart. This means that listening to music can lead to slower breathing or reduced heart rate, both of which can induce sleep.
Moreover, listening to the right type of music also has positive psychological effects and reduces states like anxiety and pressure, which can, in turn, have a positive effect on our ability to fall asleep.
Music can Reduce Pain
Researchers at the University of Utah highlighted that music has the capacity to alleviate pain by activating nerve pathways that can compete with those involved in the experience of soreness, thus, eliciting emotional responses and drawing cognitive focus.
In the studied subjects, those who had high levels of anxiousness regarding pain had the highest overall participation, opposite to the initial theory that anxiety would hinder an individual’s capacity to become absorbed in music-listening activities.
It was also found that comparatively low concern may have diminished someone’s ability to engage in the task. The findings demonstrate that endeavors such as music listening can be useful for lessening discomfort among people with considerable apprehension that can easily become enthralled in actions.
The correlation between unease and absorption is a novel revelation and points out why these temperament features should be considered when recommending participation procedures for alleviating agony.
Music can Enhance your Memory
There is significant evidence that music can boost your memory. Music elicits powerful emotions, which stimulate memory-building processes, thus explaining its involvement in creating memories that may include certain musical pieces or information associated with specific songs.
Research has established that verbal recall and attentive concentration can be greatly improved when individuals listen to their favorite music daily, especially as opposed to those who don’t regularly do so. A major factor contributing to not being able to remember things is anxiety.
This is where music’s power on memory recollection comes into play because of its aforementioned ability to reduce pressure, lift moods, enable clearer thinking, and heighten alertness.
Microsoft’s online learning platforms Take Lessons provides a list of songs that can help you evoke removed memories. Here are some of them.
- Eine Kleine Nacthmusik (by Mozart)
- Espiritual (by Marcus Viana e Transfônica Orkestra)
- Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Richard Strauss)
- Moonlight Sonata (by Beethoven)
- No Ordinary Love (by Sade)
Music can Help Fight Depression
Last but not least, music can provide great benefits to those suffering from depression. The British Journal of Psychiatry published a study on this matter. Researchers followed 79 participants (between 18 and 50 years also) who had a history of depression.
All participants received traditional treatment (which includes therapy, drugs, and counseling activities), but only half of them attended bi-weekly music therapy sessions.
After only three months, the group exposed to music therapy had a much more noticeable improvement than those who only attended regular treatment.
Further research has also proved that music therapy can provide numerous benefits to those suffering from depression. These include reducing muscular tension, lowering anxiety, boosting self-confidence, increasing enthusiasm, and improving personal relationships.
To Sum It Up
Research shows that music has numerous health benefits, ranging from increasing motivation to improving memory to help fight stress, anxiety, and depression.
While it can’t be the primary activity to resort to when dealing with these issues, it’s highly recommended to incorporate it into our routine in order to take advantage of its wellness-boosting qualities.
Based on your personal preferences and the type of result that you are trying to achieve, choosing the right music genre, tempo, and type of song can further enhance music’s positive properties.