You know that feeling your body gives when you hear the sound of your favorite song? You know how all of your stress seems to melt away instantly, your mind goes to a happier place and time and suddenly, anything that ails you seems a little less pressing? You might think it’s just because the jam is really great, and that’s part of it. However, there’s more to it. Neuroscientists have actually shown that listening to music is good for our whole body and can make someone both healthier and happier at the same time. Let’s check out four benefits you could reap the next time you listen to that favourite jam.
1. Our positive emotion gets heightened when we listen to music
Our brains have portions called “reward centers” that are triggered when we’re exposed to something that makes us feel positive or happy. When we hear a song we love, our neuons release a chemical in our brains called dopamine. In short, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that acts as a messenger, carrying signals between our brain cells. Scientists have connected dopamine specifically to the reward and motivational portions of our brains — in other words, the parts that make us feel elated.
Moreover, listening to music also stimulates almost every other part of our brain and regular exposure can lead to improved overall health and well-being. This has allowed researchers to discover new and innovative ways that the application of brainwave music can be used.
2. Music relieve stress/anxiety
We’ve all had days when we just want to come home, cue up a mindless movie, put on some slow tunes and veg out on the couch after a rough eight hours at the office. Turns out, there’s scientific proof that music can relieve those feelings of stress and anxiety. Especially when the song of choice features a slow tempo and a low pitch and is primarily instrumental, music can slow down those increases we feel in both heart rate and blood pressure as our stress levels rise.
After allowing patients recovering from hernia surgery the opportunity to listen to music, one study team of researchers found that those who did had lower plasma cortisol levels and weren’t as dependent on pain relief medication during recovery. Are you more prone to perform rather than listen to music? That’s great, too. Research reveals the same effects are enjoyed whether we’re just sitting in our room enjoying music or we’re onstage dancing to it.
3. Music can relieve our pain
You might read that above sentence and ponder its legitimacy. After all, is that really possible? Pain is an actual construct of the human body and music is a primarily mental experience, right? Actually, it’s true and there are plenty of research findings to back the claim.
Consider a recent study that followed 60 people suffering from fibromyalgia. This is a disease that wreaks havoc on the musculoskeletal system. Scientists randomly assigned patients to listen to music once daily over a month-long period. When compared to those who weren’t exposed to music, those who were reported less pain and were also less prone to experience depression.
While the production of dopamine has been linked to this phenomenon, it may also be related to the fact that music releases stress and allows us to rid ourselves of anxiety triggers.
4. Music can help us prevent disease
When it comes to our immune system, one of our first lines of defense against disease are our antibodies. In particular, one called IgA is especially combative. To this end, scientists have researched how listening to music affects our IgA levels, and what they found was both exciting and intriguing.
Exposing students to myriad noises, including a tone click, radio broadcast and a calming song, researchers discovered that after just 30 minutes, those students all experienced varying levels of IgA. Of all the stimuli, music had the greatest effect, heightening those students’ levels the most. Thus, the study concluded that it’s not just noise in general that improves our ability to fight disease. Rather, it’s music, especially any kind that is slow, calm and relaxing. Another study found that people who listen to music may also experience lower levels of interleukin-6 in their blood. This telltale protein is often linked to diabetes, cardiac issues, and early mortality rates.
You’ve never needed an excuse to cue up your favorite jam and chill out. Now, however, you’re more aware of the physical and mental changes you’re experiencing when you do. So go grab that instrumental blues record you only save for a rainy day. Get that turntable out, pour a warm mug of coffee, and settle in for the brain and body boost you need.