Benefits of Listening to Music
Photo by Alireza Attari on Unsplash
Written by: Sabrina Sourjah
Date Updated: 6/8/2021
Reviewed by: Patrick D. Randolph, Ph.D.
Has a certain piece of music moved you to tears or given you tingles down your neck? Have you burst out crying at the end of a song because it brought back so many memories?
We have all experienced the impact of music on our mood, how a plethora of feelings emerges when listening to music. Slow, rhythmic music can calm us down, while the quick beats of electronic dance music can get us jumping around or working out.
Even listening to music you don’t understand — from a different country or language than your own — can evoke strong emotions in you because music is the universal language of mankind, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet, and educator, said 200 years ago.
What Listening to Music Does to the Brain
Listening to music lights up the whole brain. Experts state that music provides a full brain workout. Meaning, listening to music activates all four lobes of your brain: frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital. When you hear music that you like, your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone.
Types of Music
Based on our upbringing and temperament, we can choose from many music genres:
- Hip hop and rap — Uses a rhythmic musical style and rhyming speech.
- Techno — Electronic dance music that was created in Detroit in the 1980s.
- R&B — Rhythm and blues music that combines elements of pop, soul, and hip hop.
- Punk — This genre emerged as a rebellion against the classical music of the 1970s.
- Country — This genre has been around for a century and mainly uses string instruments.
What Music Is Best for You?
A few decades back, we believed that classical music made us smarter. But research shows that this is not the case anymore. Your brain simply likes the music you prefer and the music you grew up to.
Benefits of Listening to Music
Listening to music is important for your health and wellbeing.
1. Overall Health
Listening to music is proven to lower blood pressure and improve your quality of sleep. High blood pressure can damage your arteries, heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. Quality of sleep has many benefits to our physical health, mental health, surgery outcomes, longevity, and life satisfaction.
Music is also used to treat Alzheimer’s patients. It was observed that when these patients listened to their favorite music, their eyes lit up, and their overall mood improved. The positive effect lasted about 10 minutes after the music was turned off.
2. Surgery Outcomes
A recent study found that patients who listen to music under anesthesia can wake up feeling less pain after surgery. They may also require less pain medication for surgery recovery.
3. Mental Health
Listening to music is therapeutic as it can be a form of meditation when you mindfully listen to music. Research suggests that music can help reduce anxiety and improve mood and mental alertness.
Depression symptoms can also be improved by listening to music. However, melancholic music with sad tunes should be avoided if you’re feeling depressed. Studies also show that listening to calming, classical music can improve ADHD symptoms for some individuals.
Researchers from John Hopkins have stated that the best way to keep your brain engaged through the aging process is to listen to music. They say, “There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does.”
5. Life Satisfaction
In a COVID-19 study on university students, it was seen that listening to music predicted improved life satisfaction in students. This is not surprising given the stress-busting nature of music.
Despite all these benefits of music, there can be some negative effects of listening to music. If you listen to loud music for too long, your ears may get damaged, and certain types of music, especially ones with quick repetitive beats, can make you feel more anxious.
Additionally, using headphones while traveling, walking, or running can make you less focused on your surroundings, exposing you to accidents or other intrusive dangers.