Music has been thought to be healing for thousands of years, but you won’t find most physicians prescribing Mozart. However, research is beginning to back up something we all know: that some types of music can be healing. But what’s the best kind? Here are the facts about music therapy and how it can improve longevity.
What Is Music Therapy?
Hospitals are usually noisy places and there isn’t a lot of soothing going on. There are monitors, TVs, people talking and endless sounds. It is hard for people to sleep and hard for them to relax. However, if people can relax they have a lower stress response and it is known that stress can slow healing.
That’s where music therapy comes in. More and more, researchers are looking how changing the environment can impact healing. Music therapy is an evidenced-based clinical approach to healing administered by music therapists. Like occupation therapy or physical therapy, it is a recognized and respected form of therapeutic treatment that can address physical, psychological, cognitive or social functioning for hospital patients or anyone with a disability or illness. It has been found to help people with respiratory issues, chronic pain, physical rehabilitation, diabetes, headaches, heart problems, surgical recovery and others.
Science of Healing Music
How music creates healing is not known. The most obvious route is the relaxation route. By creating a relaxing environment, the music gives the body a better chance to heal by reducing stress hormones. There are other possible explanations. It is fairly well established that music with a slow rhythm can slow the heart rate. Some music therapists have elaborate explanations of how music can “harmonize” various organs in the body and how healing music interacts with the brain.
These theories have yet to be proven. However the “why” doesn’t matter so much here, as it is just great that music helps healing in some cases.
Music and Longevity
Even if you are not sick and you do not visit a music therapist, listening to music can help keep your brain healthy as you age. Research has found that listening to classical music improves memory and processing speed in older adults.
Best Music for Healing
While there is no “best” music for healing, people seem to prefer classical music or instrumental music. The most common instrument used by music therapists is the harp. But the absolute “best” music for healing probably varies by individual. The characteristics of healing music should be calming, soothing and relaxed.