Simple Ways To Use Music To Improve Your Health & Your Life

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato

A post on the BBC website provocatively named the “chills” induced by pleasurable music listening as “skin orgasms” in its headline. Drawing this kind of link between musical pleasure and other kinds of pleasure may at first come off as a click-bait, but it actually is backed up by scientific research.  Research has shown that the experience of chills and pleasure during music listening was connected to activation of a system in the brain that is also activated by other types of pleasurable stimuli: good food, drugs, and yes, sex. Recent studies published in the journal Nature connected the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine to peak emotions as well as anticipation of peak emotions during music listening. 

“Music changed my life.” — Unknown


Listening to music at work. It is not uncommon now days to find people with headphones on listening to music at work. Current research indicates that music in the workplace can be a core component to a healthy, and productive workplace-and there’s scientific evidence to back it up:  A recent study showed listening to music during stressful activities positively effects stress hormones like cortisol, thereby keeping us calmer. In short, we should avoid music with lyrics when we need to focus or learn new stuff, but music with lyrics can be helpful when performing repetitive or mundane tasks, as it can lighten the mood. Overall though, ambient music punctuated by occasional bouts of no music is probably best for productivity These findings suggest that music may help to prepare the body for stressful situations and reduce the harmful impact stress has on the body overall. These findings in particular should resonate for both employees and their managers.

Sleep.  Americans on a whole seem to have a problems with getting enough sleep.  More than 33% of American adults report getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, and an estimated 60 million have a sleep disorder.  Music can help people with and without sleep disorders get the restful and invigorating sleep they need. Studies indicate that listening to low tempo and low energy music before bed can help people fall asleep. Another way that music may help sleep is through altering the release of hormones. Music listening has been found to increase the release of endogenous opioids and oxytocin. Also, for those who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia, research has shown music can help you fall asleep faster and experience overall better sleep quality. 

Studying. Music is known to improve memory, increase focus, and expand creativity. Along with the fact that music reduces stress, music can also block out distractions and background noise—promoting focus and concentration. That said, the effects of using music as a background to studying depends on things like the specific cognitive demands of the task, the characteristics of the music, the context of the task, and the personal preferences of the individual exposed to the music. For these reasons, if you do use music to help study and do homework, make sure to avoid songs with lyrics.

Exercise The benefits of music and exercise begin during the warm-up, where music raises the heart rate and increases peak anaerobic power during their workout.  Music has even been shown to accelerate recovery after a workout, by activating the nervous system responsible for lowering blood pressure and heart rate. It turns out music can even make you like exercise: a recent study showed when people listened to music or watched music videos when exercising with considerable effort they reported more enjoyment than without it.

Improve mood.  Even when you have nothing to do, music can simply help boost your mood! Music can alter brain chemistry and trigger neural pathways that can increase positive emotions. Music has the power to stimulate strong emotions within us, to the extent that it is probably rare not to be somehow emotionally affected by music. Music activates the brain areas typically associated with emotions, such as the pathways that transmit dopamine (for pleasure associated with music-listening) Music has been reported to evoke the full range of human emotion from sad, nostalgic, and tense, to happy, relaxed, calm, and joyous.

Reduce Stress. If you’re reading this, you have probably used your favorite song to change your mood during a tough time. But did you know music has also been shown to effect the physiological indicators of stress, like lowering blood pressure, breath and heart rate?  Singing along to music can help release two important hormones important for regulating responses to stress. Endorphins reduce the impact of pain on the body, and can foster euphoric feelings that boost people’s moods. Also, oxytocin can reduce stress and anxiety within a person. When people sing, both hormones are released, creating a one-two punch that lowers stress levels, while also promoting a more positive outlook within the singer.

“Music can change the world, because it can change people.” — Bono

Bonus benefit. One theory for the emergence of music during human evolution is that it strengthens the bond between people. Sharing a musical experience synchronizes movements, and oscillatory brain activity between the people involved. Thereby supporting feelings of empathy and narrowing the gap between individuals.  Music, therefore can be used as a method for increasing the quality of interactions, help individuals understand each other’s feelings and share a heightened sense of connectedness? In summary, including the right music at our holiday and/or family gatherings can lead to improved social interactions and relationships.

“Dear Music, thank you for always being there for me.” – Unknown

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Artist, Writer, Graphic Design, Jazz Radio Host here to Inform, Inspire & Ignite you to live the life you really want.

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