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Musical Medicine: How Music Heals

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

Music, a universal language that transcends cultures and borders, has long been cherished for its ability to evoke emotions and entertain. Yet, its impact on our health goes far beyond mere enjoyment - beyond its stress-reducing and sleep-improving qualities, music has a remarkable ability to impact various facets of our well-being. In this blog post, we will explore the multifaceted health benefits of music, shedding light on how it can enhance our lives in unexpected ways.

Relaxed woman lying down listening to music

Stress Reduction, Anxiety Management & Emotional Expression

  • Music has a unique power to soothe the soul and reduce stress. The act of listening to calming melodies triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural stress fighters, leading to a sense of relaxation and tranquillity.

  • Engaging in music-making, whether through playing an instrument or singing, offers an effective outlet for managing anxiety and processing emotions.

  • Music aids in developing emotional resilience by providing a healthy outlet for processing and expressing complex emotions. Many songwriters and composers use music as a form of catharsis, channelling their experiences and emotions into their compositions.

  • Music serves as a powerful medium for communication, offering solace and comfort during difficult times. It aids in coping with emotional turmoil and provides an outlet for the expression of feelings, such as loneliness, fear, or anger.

Improving Sleep Quality

  • When it comes to achieving a good night's rest, music can be a valuable ally. Gentle, soothing tunes create an atmosphere conducive to falling asleep and maintaining a restful slumber.

  • The rhythmic patterns of music can help synchronize brainwaves, promoting a deeper and more restorative sleep cycle. One study found that participants were able to fall asleep despite being exposed to stimuli, such as weak electrical impulses because they were regular and consistent.

  • Cortisol is a stress hormone, the levels of which have been seen to decrease as a result of listening to music. The reduction in cortisol levels will relieve stress and anxiety which is often the cause of sleepless nights, and can also induce a calm and relaxed state of mind ideal for sleeping.

  • The ideal music to listen to in order to achieve a better night's sleep is music with around 60bpm because it encourages our heart to drop to that rate as we are trying to induce sleep; usually when we sleep our heart-rate slows to around 40-50bpm.

Mood Elevation, Motivation, Focus & Boosting Endurance

  • Ever wondered why your favourite tunes make workouts feel easier? Music can enhance endurance and physical performance during exercise by synchronizing your movements and reducing perceived effort.

  • Music has the ability to elevate mood and boost motivation. Upbeat, energetic tunes inspire and energize individuals, making it easier to tackle tasks or exercise.

  • Background music can enhance focus and productivity, creating a pleasant ambience that reduces distractions and aids concentration in work or study.

Enhancing Memory & Cognitive Skill

  • Music serves as a vessel for memories and emotions. Listening to a particular song can evoke feelings and memories associated with it.

  • The emotional connection to music enhances memory recall. For instance, singing a phrase in an unfamiliar language can aid in retention more effectively than simply speaking it.

  • Repetition in music plays a significant role in strengthening memory.

  • Learning to play a musical instrument can sharpen other cognitive skills, including problem-solving and multitasking.

  • Music education has been linked to improved academic performance, particularly in mathematics and language arts.

Reducing Physical Pain

  • Music has the remarkable ability to alleviate pain by triggering the release of dopamine, commonly known as the "happy hormone," which modulates pain perception.

  • Some researchers believe that listening to music may also prompt the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain relievers.

  • Hospitals and medical facilities often use music therapy as an adjunct to pain management during procedures, reducing anxiety and discomfort for patients.

Regulating Eating Habits

  • Soft background music during meals can influence eating pace, helping individuals consume less food in one sitting and potentially promoting healthier eating habits.

Community and Social Bonding

  • Engaging in music-making activities, such as joining a choir or a band, fosters a sense of community and social bonding, combating loneliness and isolation.

  • Group music-making experiences encourage collaboration, cooperation, and mutual support, enhancing social skills and connections.

Aiding Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD

  • Music therapy has shown remarkable promise in aiding children with ASD. It can enhance communication, attention skills, and social responses in these children.

Prenatal and Infant Development

  • Music begins to influence our lives even before birth. Playing soothing music to a developing fetus can have a calming effect on both the baby and the expectant mother.

  • After birth, lullabies and gentle melodies can comfort and engage infants, potentially aiding in cognitive and emotional development.

Stroke Rehabilitation

  • Music therapy can improve motor skills, speech, and overall recovery in stroke rehabilitation by engaging the brain's plasticity and encouraging neural connections.

While music has always been an integral part of our lives, its health benefits are a remarkable bonus. Incorporating music into your daily life, whether by listening, playing an instrument, or engaging in music-related activities, can enrich your life in countless ways. These benefits extend across various age groups and can significantly improve overall well-being. So, the next time you turn up the volume on your favourite song, remember that you're not just enjoying the music—you're healing in more ways than one.

If you want to learn more about the health benefits of music, here are some more links for you to explore:

How does music aid your health?

  • Reduces stress & anxiety

  • Helps me express my emotions

  • Improves my sleep quality

  • Helps me focus

You can vote for more than one answer.

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