It’s common knowledge that being around loud machinery or listening to music with the volume too high can be detrimental to our hearing health. But sound is powerful. Most of us have also been touched by a beautiful song or kind words. Music, laughter and the voice of a loved one can soothe us and spark joy. So, it may not come as a surprise that sound has restorative properties as well. Let’s take a look at sound therapy and its benefits.
Sound healing, as the name suggests, involves using tones—whether music, speech or vibrations—to promote health. The ancient technique has been practiced for centuries, initially as a way to treat mental illness in ancient Greece. Today, sound therapy is used to promote physical and mental health, and the benefits are multifold. Different approaches vary based on the desired result. These techniques can reduce stress, mood swings and blood pressure, lower cholesterol, help manage pain and improve sleep. Although there are many methods, a few common ones include binaural beats, tuning fork therapy, vibrational sound therapy and music for healing. There’s plenty of research still to be done, but studies have demonstrated its ability to boost relaxation and overall well-being.
Several types of sound therapy use music for healing. But why is music important? Research shows that it can improve stress levels. In fact, one study found that listening to music before a taxing event sparked a physiological change in the nervous system, helping participants’ cortisol (the stress hormone) return to a normal level more quickly than it did for participants who didn’t listen to music beforehand. Simply listening to music can help us keep calm, but there are also more formal treatments.
Here are three ways to use music for healing:
Sound therapy may be an unfamiliar idea, but it’s gaining research-based traction. Several studies found that music has anti-inflammatory properties and can strengthen the immune system while lowering stress levels. With less tension and anxiety, the body can maintain healthy cell activity and protect itself from illness.
Research also suggests that group singing and group drumming, which have been in practice since prehistoric times, improve well-being. Spending quality social time together while making music creates a positive atmosphere that can lessen psychological stressors.
Evidence shows that using lullabies as music therapy helps premature infants’ heart rates and breathing and can even improve their feeding behaviors.
There’s also good news for those suffering from tinnitus—that pesky buzzing sound that comes from inside the ear. Tinnitus won’t disappear, but “Tinnitus Retraining Therapy” (TRT) uses sound therapy to teach the brain to ignore the irritating ringing sensation.
Whether you’re hoping to enhance relaxation, get a better night of sleep or manage pain, sound healing can help you find relief. With so many different forms of the practice to choose from, consider trying out a few different types to discover what works best for you.