Listen Up: Music is Good for Your Health

Music is powerful. It’s the creative and colorful backdrop in our daily lives. Sometimes it takes center stage, a vehicle to help process experiences, emotions and make a statement reflecting inner values and beliefs. Music is often carefully chosen, for symbolism and metaphor at weddings, parties, holidays and funerals. Music is powerful and can bring us to a particular time and place with a melodic tune.

Music is a layer in our sensory memory, provocative and evocative. It is the canvas of culture, art, emotion, time, and storytelling, wrapped in melody, rhythm, and lyrics. And as individuals, our music preference is highly varied and unique. Whether you prefer classical, country, pop, hip-hop, Alternative, Broadway and show tunes, Latin, Jazz, or Blues, or a combination of all, there is an endless supply of music genres. Regardless of your preference, there is extensive research showing the many health benefits of listening to music.

Here is some research finding on the health benefits of music:

  • Reduces perceived intensity of pain
  • Effective in the treatment of insomnia (college students listened to classical music had improved sleep quality)
  • Decreases stress by triggering biochemical stress reducer in the brain
  • Relieve symptoms of depression (classical and meditative music did this, whereas techno music made depressive symptoms worse)
  • Assist with improved performance in high-pressure situations (think of how popular music is before sporting events and most recently political rallies)
  • Helps patients before and after surgery relax, reduce anxiety
  • Ease recovery for stroke patients
  • Helps cancer patients manage stress and anxiety throughout treatment process
  • Parents and babies in the Neonatal Intensive Unit who listened to soothing music resulted in babies with improved eating and sleeping patterns and parents reported lowered rates of stress
  • Improves the bodies immune system functions and reduces stress
  • Listening to live music improved patients symptoms experiencing pain, depression and Alzheimer’s disease

Music has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Certain life events and memories are tied to favorite musicians. I have loved U2 since I was in high school, and each album is linked to memories. And what’s amazing, is whenever my teenage daughters hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers, they associate the music with our move from Virginia to Rhode Island, they were around four years old at the time. And while I cherish silence, music is my go-to stress reliever and mood elevator. At work when there is time in-between sessions I’ll listen to music that is calming and meaningful. And when I’m driving in the car, making dinner or cleaning the house, music helps to keep me focused and energized.

Here are some suggested ways how you can use music to improve your health:

  1. Trouble Sleeping: Listen to soothing, relaxing classical or meditative music in the evening and before bed.
  2. Stressed: Play your favorite music, sing, and dance to release tension and elevate mood.
  3. Big Meeting or Event: Listen to uplifting, energetic music prior to event.
  4. Feeling Depressed: Listen to classical or meditative music, stay away from techno beats which make depressive symptoms worse.
  5. Need a Boost of Happiness: Listen and dance to favorite music.
  6. Need to Calm Down: Listen to meditative or classical music.
  7. Want to Bring Back Memories: Listen to music important and relevant for a time in your life.

Music is a lovely gift. It enhances our senses and brings joy to everyday life. And with that, I leave you with this quote on music from one of my favorite poets:

“Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret life bringing peace, abolishing strife.“-Kahlil Gibran


© Copyright Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2016

3 thoughts on “Listen Up: Music is Good for Your Health

  1. Great article. I also saw a documentary about how it helps people with dementia/Alzheimers. One minute they were in their own world an then listening to music of their past helped bring some of the patients out of their shell. Amazing stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *