The next time you crank up the tunes at an impromptu dance party or enjoy an instrumental playlist while studying, pat yourself on the back for taking an active role in your health!
For decades, people have sworn that music has the ability to heal. Billy Joel once said, “Music is an explosive expression of humanity. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” And according to Bob Marley, “One good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
Studies have shown that when you hear music you enjoy, your brain releases the feel-good chemical dopamine that has positive effects on mood. Music can make us feel strong emotions like joy or even sadness. Many people agree that it has the power to move us. More research is needed to confirm all the health benefits of music, but the studies below suggest that it’s indeed valuable.
Music improves quality of sleep.
Listening to classical music has been shown to effectively treat insomnia in college students—making it a safe, cheap alternative to sleep-inducing medication for some.
Music helps people perform better in high-stress situations.
This study found that basketball players who were prone to “choke” under pressure had better outcomes during free throws if they first listened to upbeat music and lyrics.
Music motivates you to exercise harder.
In a lab-controlled study, male participants worked harder peddling on stationary bikes while listening to fast, upbeat tunes.
Music improves aerobic endurance.
You can partially thank distraction for this benefit. One study found that listening to a catchy “Top Hits” playlist can boost physical performance and increase endurance during a strenuous workout.
Music eases pain.
In patients recovering from surgery, those who listened to music before, during, or after surgery had less pain and more overall satisfaction compared with patients who did not listen to music as part of their care.
Music provides comfort.
Music therapy has also been used to help enhance coping and expression of feelings such as fear and anger in cancer patients. Music is also a key tool in most integrative medicine programs at large cancer centers in the United States.
Playing music may improve cognitive sharpness later in life.
Middle-age and older adults who spent years playing an instrument correlated with a faster brain response to speech and sounds during an experiment reported by the Journal of Neuroscience.