By Neve Wilkinson
The average person spent 20.1 hours a week listening to music in 2022, a continuously rising number thanks to the increasing popularity of streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.
Whilst music is there to entertain and inspire us, listening and creating music also has powerful psychological effects that can improve your physical and mental health. Let’s look at those positive impacts:
Physical Health Benefits Of Music
- It can be a helpful tool to lose weight
People who ate at low-lit restaurants with soft music consumed 18% less food than those who ate in other restaurants. This study suggests that the participants, who were more relaxed, consumed their meals slower and were more aware of when they began to feel full.
By playing music and dimming the lights during meal times at home, you can create a more relaxed setting and, therefore, consume less food in one sitting and feel fuller sooner.
- It can help you manage pain
Listening to music causes endorphins to be released. These act as natural analgesics, medications used to manage and treat pain.
In a study of fibromyalgia (a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body) patients found that those who listened to music for one hour a day experienced a notable reduction in pain compared to those who didn’t. The results suggest that music could be a helpful tool to treat chronic pain.
In addition, music provides a competing stimulus to the pain signals that enter the brain and can, therefore, assist in pain management.
- It can improve workout endurance, motivation and performance
Whilst your attention is on the music, you are less likely to notice the signs of physical effort, such as increased respiration, tiredness, sweating, and muscle soreness. This means you can endure the exercise for longer.
In addition, scientists have discovered that listening to a fast-paced song could motivate people to pick up the pace and improve performance.
If you are trying to improve your workout, consider listening to an upbeat playlist that will boost your motivation and keep you going for longer.
- It can keep your heart healthy
Research has shown that blood circulates more easily when music is played because listening to music produces more nitric oxide in your body, which causes blood vessels to dilate.
In addition, music can facilitate the recovery of patients suffering from heart problems. Of those patients, those who exercised while listening to music showed more signs of improvement than those who didn’t listen to music.
- It can improve your sleep quality
Whilst many like a silent and dark room whilst they fall asleep, it has been proven that music can improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels, leading to a more restful sleep.
A study where participating US college students listened to classical music, an audiobook, or nothing at bedtime for three weeks found that those who listened to music had a better sleep than those who had listened to an audiobook or nothing.
Mental Health Benefits Of Music
- It can reduce stress
Listening to music can be an effective way to help you cope with stress as it triggers biochemical stress reducers.
In a study by the National Library of Medicine, participants either listened to relaxing music, rippling water, or nothing before being subject to a stressor and taking a psychosocial stress test. The results suggested that listening to music positively impacted the human stress response.
- Cognitive performance
Music playing while the listener is primarily focused on another activity can help improve performance on cognitive tasks, so consider turning on background music next time you are working on a task.
In addition, research into music therapy for people who are deaf suggests that music can help people with hearing loss improve cognitive abilities.
- Improve memory
Several brain areas are activated when listening to music, including the part of the brain which maximizes learning and information retention.
In addition, one study found that participants learning a new language improved their knowledge when they practiced singing new words and phrases rather than regular or rhythmic speaking.
- Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
Music increases the brain’s production of dopamine, which helps relieve feelings of anxiety and depression. Findings from AARP’s 2020 Music and Brain Health Survey found that listening to music had a small but positive impact on mental well-being, depression, and anxiety.
While it’s proven that music can positively impact your mood, the type of music is also essential to consider. Classical and meditation music offers the most significant benefits, while techno and heavy metal music are ineffective for mood-boosting.
In addition, another study found that music therapy can reduce depression and anxiety symptoms in patients with neurological conditions such as stroke and dementia.
- Improves mood
Another science-backed benefit of music is that it can make you happier, as music is processed by the amygdala, an area of the brain involved with mood and emotions.
In one study, participants purposefully attempted to improve their mood by listening to positive music every day for two weeks. When later asked to describe their happiness levels, participants reported feeling happier.
- Builds community
Finally, singing or playing an instrument at school, in a band, or with friends can help you connect with a community of people with common interests.
In addition, if you don’t play an instrument or sing, you can also find people who share your love for a particular artist or genre – but feeling a sense of belonging is a great way to improve mental health.
Music + Mental Health
Although there is not one magical song or genre to make all the hard things in life easier, it is proven in this article that listening to and creating music can positively impact your physical and mental health. So, consider it more than just a pass-time or form of entertainment.
Take advantage of the music streaming apps on your smartphone, tablet, and laptop that suggest new songs, artists, or genres you might enjoy based on algorithms.
Neve is a content writer at Solvid Digital who is passionate about researching and writing. She is proud to have work published on The Sun, Yorkshire Evening Post, HackerNoon, and Future of Commerce. Feel free to check out her Gravatar and Twitter.