Music constantly inspires us. It drives us to run that extra mile at the gym and we can’t help nodding along to our favourite song on the radio. We even feel emotional after hearing just a few bars of that track.
Scientists in Washington DC believe our connection to music is so strong that early humans sang before they even learned how to speak. And according to research, music has been improving our quality of life every day since.
That’s pretty interesting to know. From smartphones to smart speakers, developments in the latest technology allow us to listen to music much more easily and much more often.
With the booming smart home market using audio technology more and more, could music’s positive impact on our lives become even deeper?
Music can help you relax
Although it might not be a huge surprise that music helps you relax, now it’s scientifically proven.
A number of research pieces have found that “listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies”. The research claims that slow, quiet classical music can have a “beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones”.
Similarly, research in Zurich saw that people who listen to relaxing music regularly have a shorter stress response when put in stress inducing situations. “Our findings indicate that music listening impacted the psychobiological stress system,” they claim.
Everyone has those moments when they get home and are stressed out about something that happened at work, or something scary on the horizon. Playing music when you get home might just help settle those nerves.
Music can improve your immune system
According to research, music can make your immune system stronger. And it’s not just because music helps us force ourselves to go to one more Zumba class every month. In fact, just listening to music can help us fight off disease.
A study led by Dr. Ronny Enk, a neurocognition expert at the Max Planck Institute, found that when volunteers listened to 50 minutes of uplifting dance music, the levels of antibodies in their blood stream increased, boosting their immune systems. It also reduced stress hormone levels which weaken the immune system.
Dr. Enk said: “We think the pleasant state that can be induced by music leads to special physiological changes which eventually lead to stress reduction or direct immune enhancement.”
Music can make you eat less
Researchers at the University of Chicago found that different genres of music can change how much we spend on food and drinks, and can even affect our appetites. It’s all down to the atmosphere that music helps create.
A separate study conducted in a restaurant found that soft lighting and soothing sounds help us to relax and encourage us to eat more slowly. Up-tempo music has the opposite impact, as it builds excitement, bringing on a tendency to eat and drink more.
Music can help ease pain
While it should never replace actual help from a doctor or medication, a 2012 study found that music can actually help reduce the pain you feel.
As emotion and pain are strongly linked, music that conjures positive emotions triggers positive memories that improve your ability to fight pain. It’s a kind of distraction technique rather than actually improving the injury.
For example, women in labour sometimes listen to a playlist of their favourite songs to take their mind off painful contractions.
Music can help you learn more
Studies show listening to music while working makes us smarter. Known as ‘the Mozart effect’. The science was so compelling that websites such as mozarteffect.com are even selling music designed to “charge the brain”.
However, be careful what you listen to. Alternative research found that only listening to your favourite music can make students remember less. So, make sure to listen to new music when learning something new.
Music can make cities safer
In recent years, people have proved the social power of music. For example, classical music has been pumped into 40 underground train stations in London to help reduce antisocial behaviour since 2003.
Within 18 months of launching the initiative, robberies reduced by 33 percent, assaults on staff reduced by 25 percent and vandalism by 37 percent.
With all these potential benefits, it’s no wonder that audio is an intrinsic part of pretty much all smart home technology. It can make us feel better, it can help us learn more effectively and can even make our cities safer.