Music has long been used in many cultures for meditation and healing. Shamans used rhythms and chanting, and many times music, to help with relaxation and concentration. More recently, doctors are beginning to recognize music as a therapeutic tool to help with a variety of ailments, such as depression, blood pressure, and PTSD. The Cardiovascular Society of Great Britain at Oxford University has found that listening to relaxing music with a repetitive rhythm on a regular basis can reduce heart rate and help in keeping blood pressure under control for longer periods of time. Further, studies at McGill University in Canada show that listening to relaxing music encourages the production of brain chemicals such as dopamine—increasing feelings of joy and bliss—which has been known to decrease symptoms of depression and stress. Studies have also shown that listening to relaxing music may also produce higher levels of human growth hormone, which is essential for regulating weight, bone growth, and metabolism, as well as increasing heart function. Music is a powerful tool that is only recently gaining recognition for its many health benefits, such as:
- Assisting patients with Alzheimer’s by reducing stress, improving mood, managing agitation, and facilitating cognitive function;
- Increasing brain plasticity, which helps with learning, changing, and growing;
- Helping veterans and others struggling with PTSD. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs has introduced an initiative to help veterans by giving them guitar lessons. Learning to play music has greatly reduced the stress and PTSD symptoms of those participating in the program.
- Assisting people struggling with sleep issues. Listening to music before and during sleep cycles can greatly help those who have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.