“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of my violin.” – Albert Einstein
Humanity’s love affair with music is as old as humanity itself, and it is virtually present in every culture. Humans are hard-wired to love music, but does it serve a purpose? Scientists think that it does, and we have outlined a few of them below;
1. Music decreases pain
In one of Bob Marley’s song, he sings “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”. If the Ibuprofen isn’t doing a good job of reducing that throbbing pain, it could be time to try a dosage of creative analgesic.
Studies done on pre-op patients show that listening to relaxing music works better than orally administered Midazolam, a sedative drug with some unpleasant side effects. Other studies show that patients who listen to soothing music after their open heart surgery were more relaxed post-op.
It’s widely believed that music engages your body’s “happiness hormones” through the release of endorphins and dopamine. The other reason why music works so well is that music relaxes and reduces stress, and there’s a solid connection between stress and pain.
2. Music Reduces Stress
In his play The Mourning Bride, British dramatist William Congreve once said that “music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” Science says that listening to music that you enjoy reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol, thus counteracting the effects extreme stress metes out on your body. Over 60% of the illnesses in our bodies are brought about by stress, so if you would like to live longer, you need to get into the groove.
3. Music aids the memory
The “Mozart effect” is perhaps one of the most publicized of effects of music on the brain. While it was found to improve spatial reasoning temporarily, researchers at the University of California are focused on another Mozart-related observation. They observed that many musicians are endowed with unusual mathematical ability. They speculate that music does help activate the nerve cells in right half of the brain that deals with higher functions, warming up these brain cells and enabling process information optimally.
When assisting patients with memory loss, physicians employ music to help them retrieve lost memories. A 2008 study done on patients with stroke shows that when exposed to music, their verbal memory improved, and they were less confused and depressed.
4. Music Improves Workouts
Marcelo Bigliassi is the guy you should listen to if you love to work out. He studies psychophysiology at the Brunel University London, and he and his colleagues explored the effects of music on runners. The findings are that runners who listen to motivational music completed their first 800 meters run faster than those who ran without music or only listened to calm music.
So if that stair stepper has you beat, crank up the volume and get back to it. Listening to pleasurable music also releases endorphins, that ease pain and increase euphoria. After you are done with work out, music may be beneficial as well. Studies show that listening to it improves the recovery rate of your body from an extreme workout much faster.
5. Makes you sleep better
Studies show that listening to relaxing classical music 45 minutes before falling asleep, helps you sleep better. In fact music has been explored as a cheap and safe alternative treatment for insomnia, and this should be a most welcome reprieve for the 30% of Americans who live with it. This effect may lie in music’s powerful ability to reduce stress and ease pain.
6. Music Makes You Happier
Everyone is dying to be happy, and music may be the key. Music has the power to change moods, due to music’s ability to activate the body’s “feel good hormones.” Dopamine causes you to feel excited, euphoric, happy and joyful. So if you need a natural high that will not add any extra weight like chocolate can, go for music.