How Listening to Music Can Have Psychological Benefits
Listening to music can be entertaining, and some research suggests that it might even make you healthier. Music can be a source of pleasure and contentment, but there are many other psychological benefits as well. Music can relax the mind, energize the body, and even help people better manage pain.
A Few of the Psychological Benefits of Music
Music Can Improve Cognitive Performance
Research suggests that background music, or music that is played while the listener is primarily focused on another activity, can improve performance on cognitive tasks in older adults. One study found that playing more upbeat music led to improvements in processing speed, while both upbeat and downbeat music led to benefits in memory.
Music Can Reduce Stress
It has long been suggested that music can help reduce or manage stress. Consider the trend centered on meditative music created to soothe the mind and inducing relaxation.
In one 2013 study, participants took part in one of three conditions before being exposed to a stressor and then taking a psychosocial stress test. Some participants listened to relaxing music, others listened to the sound of rippling water, and the rest received no auditory stimulation.
The results suggested that listening to music had an impact on the human stress response, particularly the autonomic nervous system. Those who had listened to music tended to recover more quickly following a stressor.
Music May Help You Sleep Better
Insomnia is a serious problem that affects people of all age groups. While there are many approaches to treating this problem, research has demonstrated that listening to relaxing classical music can be a safe, effective, and affordable remedy.
In a study looking at college students, participants listened to classical music, an audiobook, or nothing at all at bedtime for three weeks. Researchers assessed sleep quality both before and after the intervention.
Music Can Improve Mood
Another of the science-backed benefits of music is that it just might make you happier.
In one examination of the reasons why people listen to music, researchers discovered that music played an important role in relating arousal and mood. Participants rated music’s ability to help them achieve a better mood and become more self-aware as two of the most important functions of music.
Another study found that intentionally trying to boost moods by listening to positive music could have an impact within two weeks. Participants were instructed to purposefully attempt to improve their mood by listening to positive music each day for two weeks.
Other participants listened to music but were not directed to become happier intentionally. When participants were later asked to describe their own levels of happiness, those who had intentionally tried to improve their moods reported feeling happier after just two weeks.
Music May Reduce Symptoms of Depression
Researchers have also found that music therapy can be a safe and effective treatment for a variety of disorders, including depression.
One study found that music therapy was a safe, low-risk way to reduce depression and anxiety in patients suffering from neurological conditions such as dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease.10
While music can certainly have an impact on mood, the type of music is also important. Classical and meditation music offer the greatest mood-boosting benefits, while heavy metal and techno music are ineffective and even detrimental.
Excerpted from “How Listening to Music Can Have Psychological Benefits” in VeryWellMind. Read the full article online to learn about more additional benefits from listening to music.