Sound has the ability to produce strong and significant reactions in listeners. Whether it is a loud siren jolting you awake or a relaxing melody lulling you to sleep — sound can elicit negative, positive, or even neutral responses. Why? Because sound has a powerful effect on our brains. Using the right sound at the right time can be hugely beneficial. In this blog, we go over relevant findings to understand the effect of sound and how we can take advantage of it to boost our mood and well-being.
Throughout history, human beings have taken advantage of the effect of sound on our minds. The ancient Greeks used music to treat mental health issues and many middle eastern nations erected “houses of health” where music was a key healing method. Music has been used to lift military topes’ morale, ward off “evil spirits” and even calm down physical pain. Even though that most of these holistic approaches have been lost, there has been a renaissance in sound-based therapies.
More recently, researchers have linked sound to several well-being benefits. Sound therapy may reduce stress and anxiety, change your perception of pain, support premature babies, and much more. It may seem hard to believe, but you can agree that sound has even a tiny influence on you. Think about it — is there a sound that makes you sad? What about a melody that makes you feel happy and energized? I bet you came up with a few examples!
And why is that? Because sounds (in the form of musical notes) travel into our ears as a series of vibrations. Once there, they transform into electrical signals that are sent to the brain through the vestibulocochlear nerve. Essentially, your brain tells you that you are hearing a sound and what that particular sound is.
The effect of sound on health
For many of us, the effect of sound is deeper when it comes in the form of music. Music therapy, for example, uses music’s mood-lifting qualities to improve a person’s health and well-being. Typically, such interventions consist of listening to music, playing an instrument, or meditating. In his book Klangtherapie!, Dr. Otto-Heinrich Silber writes that sounds have the “capacity to, by circumventing our rational consciousness, enter into deeper levels of our physical bodies, but also into our psyche.”
Recent studies seem to confirm these ideas, demonstrating how music supports both healthy and critically ill people. Illnesses, especially serious ones, cause a great deal of mental distress. Yet, music can abate the so-called “stress response” and reduce anxiety levels during mechanical ventilation. What’s more, music elicits our relaxation response — our physical way of reversing the effects of the physical stress response. In addition, by facilitating relaxation, music promotes quality sleep, which is crucial for healing bodies.
Most amazingly, music has the potential to help us control pain. How? It’s still unclear. However, many studies indicate that our favorite music can change our subjective pain perception. Music interventions can also help those suffering from chronic pain. Music provides just the perfect stimulation to evoke a response, reducing the amount of pain a patient perceives and helping them enjoy greater peace of mind.
“All of nature begins to whisper its secrets to us through its sounds. Sounds that were previously incomprehensible to our soul now become the meaningful language of nature.” — Rudolf Steiner.
What about nature sounds? Moving water, distant thunderstorms, or singing birds put us to sleep. American doctor Patch Admas called nature the number one tranquilizer and stress reducer. In fact, the field of environmental psychology supports the idea that humans are deeply connected to nature. Environmental psychologists have identified many benefits of nature and natural sounds, including greater focus, efficient stress management, and emotional regulation.
A 2016 study suggested that taking trips into the forest is ideal for emotional regulation and positive well-being. In the study, participants wandered around the natural landscape and found it calm and pleasing. Moreover, they felt great happiness by observing the beauty of their surroundings. As a result, this activated the system associated with joy (parasympathetic nervous system). By contrast, those who spend time in urban settings activated the system associated with anxiety (the sympathetic nervous system).
Channeling the power of sound
If you made it to the end of this article, you are probably wondering how can you channel the power of sound to boost your well-being. Or, perhaps, you already have a couple of good ideas. In any case, here are some handy tips:
- Create a playlist with relaxing and/or uplifting music for whenever you need
- Visit your nearest forest, park, beach, or botanic garden
- Play the drums, harp, or singing bows
- Listen to sound meditations
Synctuition combines nature sounds, soothing music, and soothing vocalizations — all recorded in immersive spatial audio. Listen to our soundscapes to reach a placid meditative state in a matter of minutes!