Friday, May 25, 2007

Wham: Music's Positive Effects on Brain and Body

I came home from a trade show for the Spa industry with a CD that, when I first put it on, sounded like really boring elevator music. The box it came in raved about the success that this music has on the brain, and how it had been clinically tested to help people fall asleep faster, and get a better night's rest. Sure enough, when I put on this really boring music at bedtime, I can't get through three tracks without falling asleep. And I seem to get up a lot less as well, something that not even Saw Palmetto had been able to do!

When I started investigating how music affects the brain like this, I discovered that scientists who have done functional MRI's of the brain listening to music have found that it stimulates our brain in areas that they are still trying to understand. One expert, Dr. Daniel Levitin (Professor of Psychology and Music at McGill University) describes music as something that can lower blood pressure, improve sleep and reduce pain, depression and anxiety. No wonder that boring elevator music worked so well!

A 2006 Temple University study found that people who listened to music during the discomfort of a colonoscopy needed substantially less anti-anxiety medication during the procedure. Another study about Chronic Pain (Case Western Reserve University) showed that those who listened to music reported 12-21% less pain than those who didn't listen to music during the day. The type of music didn't matter, although we've probably all heard about something called the "Mozart Effect," which has been said to improve the intelligence of young children.

I'm convinced that my sleeping music really helps me (linked to the headline of this post) but of course it could be that it is just plain BORING, and perhaps a tape of my old boss discussing his fishing trips would work just as well?


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