One of the most promising forms of medicine is all around us: sound. Insights into the healing power of music and sound can be traced all the way back to Ancient Greece. New research and technologies show us how sound healing can help us thrive in the anxiety-ridden 2020’s.
Heart disease, diabetes, addiction, and mental health issues have all been linked to stress and tension1. Meditation practices have been shown to alleviate anxiety and improve well-being. But most forms of meditation require time and discipline to achieve these effects.
Enter practices like Tibetan Singing Bowl meditation, which requires nothing more than lying down and listening to a combination of traditional singing bowls, gongs, and bells. A 2016 study showed that sound meditation participants reported significantly less tension, anger, fatigue, and depressed mood1. Clinics and sound therapists are becoming available all over the world as the benefits of these “sound baths” have become more well-known.
We are all familiar with the physical and emotional power of music, from the beat of war drums to the thrill of an arena rock anthem. Music therapy, a growing field in hospitals and universities, seeks to harness the power of music for healing.
Studies suggest that musical activities like drum circles and group singing may boost the innate or non-specific immune system2. Listening to music may also have anti-inflammatory effects2. Additionally, music therapy has been shown to improve overall emotional wellbeing in adults suffering from chronic diseases3. As a noninvasive treatment method with little to no side effects, music therapy stands out as a promising field in modern medicine.
Anyone who has had a poor night’s sleep knows the importance of sleep quality on physical and cognitive function. When we sleep, our ears stay alert to any signs of danger. This provides a unique opportunity for sleep intervention through sound.
The app Brain.fm, underpinned by ongoing sleep research, generates algorithmic music that can deepen users’ sleep. By generating sound that slowly modulates at low frequencies, the app can lengthen the time that users spend in Slow-Wave Sleep4. It is at this stage of sleep that Alzheimer's-related peptides and drowsiness-inducing adenosine are flushed from the brain4.
We are constantly immersed in sound, yet the medical benefits of sound and music are still being discovered. Studies suggest that the many noninvasive forms of sound therapy can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and boost sleep quality and immune performance. As research progresses, further benefits may soon reveal themselves in this growing field.