“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
– Berthold Auerbach
You know that rush you get when the first few notes of your favorite song come through the speakers? It’s similar to an electric charge where your body just can’t help but respond. That jolt of happiness arrives because your brain releases dopamine, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter, when you hear your favorite melodies. And while listening to music is a great way to lift your mood, it also brings countless other benefits. Even those who prefer silence may, ahem, change their “tune” after reading this.
Music Eases Pain
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
– Bob Marley
Research has revealed that patients who listen to pleasant music report having less pain than those who either don’t listen to any music or who listen to unpleasant music (as determined by the listener). Moreover, music can interrupt the pain signals before they even reach the brain by a reaction organized in the spinal cord. Researchers at Drexel University found that listening to pre-recorded music and participating in music therapy lessened pain so long as the tunes were meditative, classical or of the patient’s choosing.
The Right Compositions Increase Focus
When tasks are readily understood and repetitive, listening to music can provide a huge boost in productivity. It can also increase creativity and ideation. Before pulling out the iPod, however, it’s important to note: music should be played at a moderate noise level and shouldn’t contain lyrics for this benefit to be realized. Consider playing ambient tunes, such as beach waves or slower melodies, or the result could be distracting.
Music Brings Better Zs
Put away the sleep-inducing meds and consider music instead. Approximately 1 in 3 Americans contend with insomnia. If you fall into this category, you may benefit from listening to classical music for 45 minutes before saying goodnight. Studies show that doing so results in significantly better sleep even when the rest of a person’s routine remains the same.
Music Helps Improve Visual and Verbal Skills
Numerous studies report that music education at an early age helps children gain communication, verbal and visual skills. Even at an older age, children experience a greater verbal IQ after participating in extra-curricular music classes. For younger kids, a mere one month of musical training that includes basic musical concepts, such as melody, rhythm, pitch and voice results in a greater linguistic understanding.
Music Reduces Depression
“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
– Maya Angelou
Hearing music encourages people to reconnect with the healthy part of themselves. It boosts the immune system’s effectiveness by increasing the production of antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells. When people feel healthier physically, their moods naturally elevate. Next time you’re stuck in a funk or getting ill, try turning on the radio or jamming with your favorite beats for a quick upturn.