If you love listening to music, youâ€™re in good company.Â Charles Darwin once remarked, â€śIf I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.â€ť Albert Einstein declared, â€śIf I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.â€ť Jimi Hendrix called music his â€śreligion.â€ť
Recent research showsÂ that listening to music improves our mental well-being and boosts our physical health in surprising and astonishing ways. If we take a music lesson or two, that musical trainingÂ can help raise our IQs and even keep us sharp in old age. Here areÂ 15 amazing scientifically-proven benefits ofÂ being hooked on music.
1. Music Makes You Happier
â€śI donâ€™t sing because Iâ€™m happy; Iâ€™m happy because I sing.â€ť â€“ William James
Research proves that when you listen to music you like, your brainÂ releases dopamine,Â a â€śfeel-goodâ€ť neurotransmitter. Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist at McGill University, injected eight music-lovers with a radioactive substance that binds to dopamine receptors after they listened to their favorite music. A PET scanÂ showed that largeÂ amounts ofÂ dopamine were released, whichÂ biologically caused theÂ participantsÂ to feel emotions like happiness, excitement, and joy.
So the next time you need an emotional boost, listen to your favorite tunes for 15 minutes.Â Thatâ€™s all it takes to getÂ a natural high!
2. Music Enhances Running Performance
â€śIf people take anything from my music, it should be motivation to know that anything is possible as long as you keep working at it and donâ€™t back down.â€ť â€“ Eminem
Marcelo Bigliassi and his colleagues found that runners who listened toÂ fast or slow motivational musicÂ completed the first 800 meters of their run faster than runners whoÂ listened to calm music orÂ ran without music. If you want to take your running up a notch, listen to songs that inspire you.
3. Music Lowers Stress and ImprovesÂ Health
â€śI think music in itself is healing. Itâ€™s an explosive expression of humanity. Itâ€™s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture weâ€™re from.â€ť â€“ Billy Joel
Listening to music you enjoy decreases levels of theÂ stress hormone cortisolin your body, whichÂ counteracts the effects ofÂ chronic stress.Â This is an important finding sinceÂ stress causes 60% of all our illnesses and disease. OneÂ study showed that if peopleÂ actively participated in making musicÂ by playing various percussion instruments and singing, their immune system was boosted even more than if they passively listened.
To stay calm and healthy during a stressful day, turn on the radio. Be sure to sing along and tap your feet to the beat toÂ get the maximum healing benefit.
4. Music Helps You Sleep Better
â€śMusic washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.â€ť â€“ Berthold Auerbach
Over 30%Â of AmericansÂ suffer from insomnia. A studyÂ showed that students whoÂ listened toÂ relaxing classical musicÂ for 45 minutes before turning in slept significantly better than students who listened to an audiobook or did nothing different from their normal routine.Â If youâ€™re having trouble sleeping, try listening to a little Bach or Mozart before bedtime to catch some Zs.
5. MusicÂ Reduces Depression
â€śMusic was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.â€ť â€“ Maya Angelou
More thanÂ 350 millionÂ people suffer from depression around the world. A whoppingÂ 90%Â of themÂ also experience insomnia. TheÂ sleep research aboveÂ found that symptoms of depression decreased significantly in the group that listened to classical music before bedtime, but not in the other two groups. Another studyÂ by Hans Joachim Trappe in Germany also demonstrated that music can benefitÂ patients with depressive symptoms, dependingÂ on the type of music.Â Meditative sounds and classical musiclifted people up, butÂ techno and heavy metal broughtÂ people down even more.
The next timeÂ you feel low, put onÂ some classical or meditative music to lift your spirits.
6. Music HelpsÂ You Eat Less
â€śThereâ€™s a friendly tie of some sort between music and eating.â€ť â€“ Thomas Hardy
Research at Georgia Tech University showed that softeningÂ the lighting and music while people ate led them to consume fewer caloriesÂ and enjoy their meals more. If youâ€™re looking for waysÂ to curb your appetite, try dimming the lights and listening toÂ soft musicÂ the next time you sit down for a meal.
7. Music ElevatesÂ Your Mood While Driving
â€śThatâ€™s what I love. Not being interrupted, sitting in the car by myself listening to music in the rain. There are so many great songs yet to sing.â€ť Â â€“ Alison Kraus
A studyÂ in the Netherlands found that listening to music canÂ positively impact your mood while driving, which can lead toÂ safer behavior than not listening to music. The next timeÂ you feel frustrated in traffic, turn up the tunes to improve your state of mind. It wonâ€™t hurt your driving performance â€“ it may even help youÂ drive more safely.
8. Music Strengthens Learning and Memory
â€śMusic is the language of memory.â€ť â€“ Jodi Picoult
Researchers discovered that music can help you learn and recall information better, but it depends on how much you like the music and whether or not youâ€™re a musician. Subjects memorized Japanese characters while listening to music that either seemedÂ positive or neutralÂ to them.Â The results showed that participants who were musiciansÂ learned better with neutral music but tested better when pleasurable music was playing. Non-musicians, on the other hand, learned better with positive music but tested better withÂ neutral music.
Memorize these results. You now have aÂ strategy to study more effectively for your next test.
9. Music Relaxes Patients Before/After Surgery
â€śHe who sings scares away his woes.â€ť â€“ Miguel de Cervantes
Researchers foundÂ that listening toÂ relaxing musicÂ before surgery decreases anxiety. In fact itâ€™sÂ even moreÂ effective than being orally administeredÂ Midazolam, a medication often used to help pre-op patientsÂ feel sleepy that also has gnarly side effects such asÂ coughing and vomiting. Other studiesÂ showed thatÂ listening to soothing music while resting in bedÂ after open heart surgery increases relaxation.
Globally,Â 234 million major surgeriesÂ are performed each year. If you or someone you know is going into surgery, be sure to bring some soothing tunes to ease anxiety. It may work better, and will certainly have fewer adverse side effects, than the meds they dispense.
10. Music Reduces Pain
â€śOne good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.â€ť â€“ Bob Marely
ResearchÂ at Drexel University in Philadelphia found thatÂ music therapy and pre-recorded music reduced painÂ more than standard treatments in cancer patients.Â Other research showed that music can decreaseÂ pain in intensive care patients and geriatric care patients, but the selection needed to be eitherÂ classical pieces, meditative music, or songsÂ of the patientâ€™s choosing.
Bob Marely was right about this one â€“ listen to music you love toÂ take your pain away.
11. Music Helps Alzheimerâ€™s Patients Remember
â€śThe past, which is not recoverable in any other way, is embedded, as if in amber, in the music, and people can regain a sense of identity.â€ť â€“ Oliver Sacks, M.D.
A non-profit organization calledÂ Music & MemoryÂ helps people withÂ Alzheimerâ€™s Disease and other age-related dementias remember who they areÂ by havingÂ them listen to their dearest songs. The awakening is often dramatic. For example, afterÂ HenryÂ listens to music from his era, this wheelchair-bound dementia sufferer who can barely speak sings Cab Calloway songs and happily reminisces about his life .
Dr. Laura Mosqueda, Director of Geriatrics at the University ofÂ California at the Irvine School of Medicine, explains that becauseÂ music affects so many areas of the brain, it stimulatesÂ pathways that may still be healthy.
One in three seniorsÂ die with Alzheimerâ€™s Disease or another dementia, so odds are you know someone who has it.Â To connect with loved ones who suffer from age-related dementia, try playing some of their best-loved music.
12. Music Improves RecoveryÂ in Stroke Patients
â€śI know why the caged bird sings.â€ť â€“ Maya Angelou
Research at the University of HelsinkiÂ showed that stroke patients who listened to music they chose themselves for two hours a day had significantlyÂ improved recovery of cognitive functionÂ compared to those who listened to audio books or were given no listening material. MostÂ of the music contained lyrics, which suggests that itâ€™s the combination of music and voiceÂ that bolsteredÂ the patientsâ€™ auditory and verbal memory.
Stroke is theÂ number 5 cause of deathÂ in the United States. If you know someone who has suffered a stroke, bring their favoriteÂ songsÂ as soon as you can. Listening to them can significantly ramp up their recuperation.
13. Music Increases VerbalÂ Intelligence
â€śMusic is to the soul what words are to the mind.â€ť â€“ Modest Mouse
After only one month of music lessons (in rhythm, pitch, melody and voice), a study at York University showed that 90% of children between the ages of 4 and 6 had a significantÂ increase in verbal intelligence. Researcher Sylvain MorenoÂ suggests that the music training had aÂ â€śtransfer effectâ€ťÂ which enhanced the childrenâ€™s ability to understand words and explain their meaning. Other research foundÂ that musically trained adult womenÂ and musically trained children outperformed those without music training onÂ verbal memory tests.
NoÂ matter whether youâ€™re an adult or a child, if you wantÂ to boostÂ your verbal skills, try taking music lessons!
14. Music RaisesÂ IQ and Academic Performance
â€śMusic can change the world because it can change people.â€ť â€“ Bono
Research shows that takingÂ music lessons predicts higher academic performance and IQÂ in young children. In oneÂ study, 6-year-olds who tookÂ keyboard or singing lessons in small groups for 36 weeks had significantly larger increases in IQ and standardized educational test results than children who tookÂ either drama lessons or no lessons. The singing group did the best.
To help your childrenÂ achieveÂ academic excellence, encourage them toÂ sing or learn to play an instrument.
15. Music KeepsÂ Your Brain HealthyÂ in Old Age
â€śMusic is the true breath of life. We eat so we wonâ€™t starve to death. We sing so we can hear ourselves live.â€ť â€“ Yasmina Khadra
A study withÂ healthy older adults found that those withÂ ten or more years of musical experience scored higherÂ on cognitive tests than musicians with one to nine years of musical study. The non-musicians scored the lowest.Â â€śSince studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older,â€ť saysÂ lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy.
Business magnateÂ Warren BuffetÂ stays sharp at age 84 by playing ukulele. Itâ€™s never too late to play an instrument to keep you on top of your game.
PlatoÂ had it right when he said,Â â€śMusic and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.â€ť No matter whether youâ€™re young or old, healthy or sick, happy or sad, music can improve the quality of your life in numerousÂ ways. It reduces stress and anxiety, lifts your mood, boosts your health, helps you sleep better, takes away your pain, and even makes you smarter.
New research shows that music â€ścan communicate basic human feelings regardless of the listenerâ€™s cultural and ethnic background.â€ť Weâ€™ve only just begun to understand all the ways thisÂ universal languageÂ can profit the world. Rather than cut funds for music and art programs in schools, why not invest in exploringÂ all the secret places that music reaches so that we may continue to reap its amazing benefits?