Music not only has charms to soothe the savage beast. It
also may help ease pain, relieve stress, and improve overall well-being. Here’s
what science says about the health benefits of listening to music.
One way to manage pain is by diverting your attention elsewhere—and
music can be a pleasant diversion. It has been used to help manage the pain
associated with surgery, physical rehab, childbirth, cancer, burn treatment,
and other conditions.
As the demands of the music task increased, their pain decreased.
And people who were most anxious about pain got the most benefit. The
researchers noted that anxiety-prone people tend to be easily absorbed in their
thoughts, so anxious volunteers may have been more caught up in the music.
Music can calm your mind as it soothes your soul. In a study from Tzu Chi University
in Taiwan, new nurses with high stress levels were randomly assigned to either
listen to slow, soothing music or simply rest quietly.
Those in the music group
reported feeling less stressed, and they also had lower blood pressure, heart
rate, and stress hormone levels.
Some studies have suggested that music may give your immune
system a boost. And it doesn’t only affect humans. Mice are susceptible as
In a study published in the Journal of
Cardiothoracic Surgery, Japanese researchers played music for mice which
had undergone heart transplants. Opera music by Verdi and classical music by
Mozart reduced rejection of the heart transplants, but single-frequency
monotones and new age music by Enya did not. (Draw your own conclusions, music
The benefits seemed to be due to music’s influence on the
immune system. Among other changes, mice exposed to opera had increased numbers
of certain cells that regulate peripheral immune function.
Music at the gym or on a run can motivate you to work out longer
and harder. In research presented at the 2012 meeting of the British
Psychological Society, music psychologist Alexandra Lamont found that competitive
athletes felt more in the zone when they listened to their favorite music
during workouts. They also reported lower levels of perceived exertion.
Mom had the right idea when she sang you a lullaby. One common
use of music is to promote sedation and sleep. And it seems to really help,
even for people with chronic insomnia and those who have undergone stressful
medical procedures. Among other effects, soothing music at bedtime may prolong
REM sleep, the stage during which dreaming occurs.
Get the information you need to improve your health and wellness on Healthline.com.
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