The Pfizer Medical Team published an article listing the 10 health benefits of music. We have all had that special song that brings back a certain memory or seems to make you feel happy or calm. We are born with the ability to tell the difference between music and noise. The brain has different pathways for processing different parts of music that includes pitch, melody, rhythm and tempo. For instance, fast music can actually increase the heart rate, breathing and blood pressure while the slower music tends to have the opposite effect.
These effects are not fully understood but the brain actually releases a chemical called dopamine that has positive effects on mood. Strong emotion such as joy, sadness or fear can be felt through music. It simply has the power to move us.
More studies are needed to confirm the potential health benefits of music but some studies suggest listening to music can have the following effects:
- It improves mood as shown through studies. Listening to music can benefit overall well-being, help regulate emotions, create happiness and relaxation.
- You can reduce stress by listening to relaxing music with slow tempos, low pitch and no lyrics.
- Music lessens anxiety as shown by studies of people with cancer. It can reduce anxiety combined with standard care.
- Music can improve exercise when listened during aerobic exercise, and will boost mental and physical stimulation while increasing overall performance.
- Memory improvement has been shown by research of listening to the repetitive elements of rhythm and melody. It helps our brains form patterns that enhance memory. Stroke survivors listening to music experienced more verbal memory, less confusion and better focus.
- Those recovering from surgery and listening to music before, during and after surgery had less pain and more satisfaction compared to those who did not listen to music as part of their care.
- Music provides comfort. This therapy has been used to enhance communication, coping and expressing feelings such as fear, loneliness and anger in those having a serious illness or at their end-of-life.
- It will improve cognition by listening to music. It helps people with Alzheimer’s to recall lost memories and help to maintain some mental abilities.
- Children with autism spectrum disorder receiving music therapy showed improvement in social responses, communication skills and attention skills.
- Playing live music and lullabies can impact vital signs, improve feeding behaviors and sucking patterns in premature infants. It may also increase prolonged periods of quiet-alert states.
So get out that CD player, turn on Pandora or go to a concert. There’s a million types of music out there to suit your every mood. Relaxation is something we all deserve and a great way to do this is through your choice of music.
Dr Fredda Branyon