Our relationship with music is complex. We listen to it when we are sad, joyful or angry. Some of our strongest memories are tied to music, and it has the capacity to transport us to another world.
However, our connection with music runs far deeper than that. Not only can it make you happier, it can also make you healthier in some very surprising ways.
1. Treat depression
Music that is described as calming, relaxing or joyful can be used to alleviate depression symptoms. For a more direct and powerful impact, playing a musical instrument has been shown to have the greatest effect, with researchers suggesting this may be due to the sense of purpose and active engagement.
2. Get a full night’s sleep
Studies have shown that nearly one in three people aren’t getting adequate rest. This has a wide range of negative effects on health and mood, not just the performance decreasing aspect of simply being tired. Thankfully, adding a calming, instrumental playlist to your nighttime routine can help you get to sleep quicker compared to silence, and improves the quality of sleep you have as well.
For what’s been dubbed the most ‘relaxing song in the world’, take a look at this collaboration between band Marconi Union and the British Academy of Sound Therapy.
3. Help you meditate
Music with a slow pulsing beat changes the frequency of your brainwaves as you listen to it. This is similar to how a meditation or hypnosis induced trance states alter your brain activity. Regular practice of meditation has been shown to have many positive effects on your physical and mental health, and using music to achieve similar results is an easy way to do this as part of your daily routine.
4. Lower stress and anxiety
Listening to music has been proven to be just as good as more obvious stress-busting methods like massages. Given that stress and anxiety are one of the most common mental health issues today, this can only be the perfect excuse to convince your boss to let you use your headphones whilst at work.
It’s also great if you’ve just had surgery or some other kind of serious trauma, as the reduced stress can speed up recovery.
5. Improve your cardiovascular system
A number of studies have shown that listening to music can improve your cardiac function, lower blood pressure and improve your heart rate. This allows you to exercise for longer and also helps maintain your health.
6. Reduce the risk of heart disease
Tying in with the previous point, anything that improves your circulation also helps to cut the risk of heart disease. Music has been shown to do exactly that. Not only does it help by improving cardiac activity, but music also helps to eliminate the main culprits of heart disease such as stress. Even better, the right kind of music can help patients to recover from invasive surgery faster and lower stress experienced during procedures.
7. Assist weight loss
If you were to picture a high-class restaurant, you might imagine soft, intimate lighting, while a pianist gently plays to add to the ambience.
It turns out that there’s a good reason for all of this. Music has been shown to reduce the speed at which you eat, as well as reducing the amount of food you consume in total.
8. Strengthen your immune system
Your immune system is constantly under assault. Virtually every single thing you touch is teeming with bacteria. It’s no surprise that so many people feel chronically ill.
But, it turns out that listening to your favourite uplifting music for an hour is enough to make your immune system more effective at fighting off infection, and it’s thought that this could actually be a way to help combat the spread of disease in hospitals.
9. Be your personal cheerleader
If you need a little motivation to help you run that little bit further, or lift that weight just once more, music can be the perfect workout partner. Music can increase your endurance and distract you from the monotony and pain that comes with exercising. If strength is your thing, don’t worry. Music has been shown to increase different types of strength, including grip and explosive strength – which are excellent overall indicators of health.