Updated: Jan 25, 2020
Calming and soothing music can transform our mood and help us feel relaxed. Similarly, a hard rock song or a driving dance beat can get us pumped up and make us feel like we’re on top of the world.
While there are many claims about what sound healing can or cannot do, there are certain benefits that are proven by scientific studies. Here are 5 proven health benefits of sound therapy backed up by science:
The most common mental health problem in the world is anxiety, and women are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders as men. A 2016 University of California study entitled “Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study” found that “sound meditation participants reported significantly less tension, anger, fatigue, and depressed mood,” adding that “Tibetan singing bowl meditation may be a feasible low-cost low technology intervention for reducing feelings of tension, anxiety, and depression, and increasing spiritual well-being.”
By helping people express their emotions, music therapy appears to be an effective treatment for depression. Twice a week, with the help of trained music therapists, the participants in a 2011 research study (published in The British Journal of Psychiatry) learned how to improvise music using a mallet instrument, a percussion instrument or an acoustic, West African djembe drum. Study results demonstrated that participants receiving active music therapy in addition to standard care had a significantly greater improvement in their symptoms than those receiving standard care alone after three months of treatment. According to a study by McGill University in Canada, music can increase the production of dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for elevating our mood and is often referred to as one of the happiness hormones, meaning it can be used to help alleviate depression.
Helps Patients Suffering from PTSD
Music therapy is often prescribed as a self-management technique for PTSD sufferers. A study took place from 2010 to 2011, and enrolled 40 veterans with significant PTSD symptoms, half of whom were returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. The six-week intervention, which was conducted with assistance from the Guitars for Vets chapter at the Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI, consisted of veterans receiving an hour of individual guitar training each week and a weekly group instruction session. Veterans also received a guitar, along with sheet music and other supplies that they were allowed to keep after the study concluded. In the study, it was found that music therapy did in fact positively benefit in terms of relieving symptoms of PTSD. In addition, findings suggest that the music therapy was effective in reducing depression symptoms and improving health-related quality of life.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Among the many benefits, it’s found that relaxing music and sound therapy can help lower blood pressure. Lowered blood pressure reduces cardiac risks and keeps other health problems at bay. This was also observed in the 2016 singing bowl study conducted by the University of California. This study conclusively proved that sound therapy can reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue, and overall stress levels. Stress, according to current medical research, contributes to nearly all disease and is a primary cause of such life-threatening illnesses as heart attacks, strokes, and immune system breakdowns.
Promotes Deeper Sleep
If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, you’re not alone and lack of sleep has got to be one of the worst feelings ever. There have been several studies that prove sound can help patients achieve a deeper sleep. White noise, in particular, can greatly improve the quality of sleep in people suffering from sleep disorders. White noise is a special type of sound signal with a full spectrum of frequencies which is used to mask background sounds. When used to promote healthy sleep, white noise helps to drown out sounds which might otherwise prevent you from either falling asleep or waking up. The benefits of sound therapy for sleep deprived patients are so widely accepted that doctors prescribe white noise machines and even hospitals use them.