It’s pretty fascinating how listening to a certain song can bring back so many memories or change your mood in a flip of a switch. People are born with the ability to distinguish the difference between the sound of music and the sound of noise. Our brains have pathways for processing all the different aspects of music such as melody, pitch, rhythm and tempo. Ultimately, music can affect the pace of your heart, increasing your heart rate with faster music or decreasing it with slower music.
Personally, music allows me to feel strong emotions that vary from happiness to sadness or even joy and fear. According to the research I conducted to understand more about this phenomenon, music has the power to improve health and well-being. Even though more studies are needed to confirm these potential health benefits of music, studies suggest that listening to music can have the following effects on your health:
1. Improves mood. Studies show that listening to music can benefit overall well-being, help regulate emotions, and create happiness and relaxation in everyday life. I notice when I am listening to music while performing everyday tasks, I perform them faster with a better attitude than if I were to be doing the chores in silence.
2. Reduces stress. Listening to ‘relaxing’ music that incorporates slow tempo and low pitch reduces stress and anxiety.
3. Lessens anxiety. In studies of people with cancer, listening to music combined with standard care, reduced anxiety compared to those who received standard care alone.
4. Improves exercise. Studies suggest that music can enhance aerobic exercise, boost mental and physical stimulation, and increase overall performance. When loud music is pumping, your heart rate increases helping you enhance your performance.
5. Improves memory. Research has shown that the repetitive elements of rhythm and melody help our brains form patterns that enhance memory. Listening to music helps me experience more verbal memory, less confusion, and obtain better-focused attention.
6. Eases pain. In studies of patients recovering from surgery, those who listened to music before, during, or after surgery had less pain and more overall satisfaction compared with patients who did not listen to music as part of their care.
7. Provides comfort. Music therapy has also been used to help enhance communication, coping, and expression of feelings such as fear, loneliness, and anger in patients who have a serious illness, and who are in end-of-life care.
8. Improves cognition. Listening to music can also help people recall seemingly lost memories and even help maintain some mental abilities.
9. Helps children with an autism spectrum disorder. Studies of children with autism spectrum disorder who received music therapy showed improvement in social responses, communication skills, and attention skills.
10. Soothes premature babies. Live music and lullabies may impact vital signs, improve feeding behaviors/sucking patterns in premature infants, and may increase prolonged periods of quiet–alert states.